Skoda Fabia still

hard to beat

Skoda Fabia hatch
Skoda Fabia hatch, profile
Skoda Fabia hatch, dashboard
Skoda Fabia hatch, static
Skoda Fabia hatch, rear

COLOUREDalloy wheels do nothing for any car as far as I'm concerned.

I drove past one of the lovely Bentley Convertibles the other day and it was completely spoiled by them. They just made it look dowdy and uninteresting.

They don't look good on any car, be it a Bentley or the Skoda Fabia I was driving recently. I think the manufacturers are just trying to make some of their myriad models look a little different.

Each to his own I suppose, and no doubt there are owners out there who like them. But to me, they simply spoil the look of any good car.

In every other way, the Fabia I drove was right up with the best in the supermini one-litre class and it's just won an accolade for being the best value for money in the annual What Car? awards.

The one-litre turbo petrol engine is pegged down to 95bhp, whereas in other VW Group models it produces 115bhp, but actually, in this guise it's so sweet sounding and so willing, there is little difference.

It revs beautifully when you're in a hurry, picks up well from low revs in higher gears and is smooth and refined all the way through its rev range.

It has a five-speed gearbox with a lovely slick change and will pull happily from 1,500 revs or less in thirdand fourthgears, pulling hard by 1,700.

The combination of low down thrust and top end revs is a heady mixture that will appeal to anyone who loves cars and driving like me.

Because of the sweet sound and zesty nature, it feels much quicker than it is. The 62 miles an hour sprint actually comes up in 10.7 seconds.

As well as the super engine, it excels in every other way, with marvellously tactile point and shoot steering helping towards tremendous agility.

Yet the level of comfort is also pretty much unsurpassed in the class, taking very rough country roads easily and smoothly, and rolling over speed humps and oft-repaired roads in town without a murmur of complaint.

This ride needs fairly supple suspension and that could have caused handling problems.

But not a bit of it. The road-holding is sublime and it sticks to the surface - no matter how bad - like its running on superglue.

All in all, it is the most delightful car to drive, poised, agile and quick. It is excellent in every way and although I would like a little more power, I could live with it very easily.

Inside, there's plenty of room for four and a very good boot, with split folding back seats to make it bigger.

I managed to get a five drawer chest in the back with the seats down and the door closed. I never thought it would fit.

Everything is beautifully screwed together and the fit and finish is excellent inside and out.

Equipment in the range topping SE L includes those alloy wheels - which can also be had in silver or white - a black roof, DAB radio with a six inch touch screen, cruise control, traction control, heated mirrors, leather covered multi-function steering wheel and rear parking sensors.

It also has a smartlink for your phone, stop start, tyre pressure monitoring and excellent seat adjustment.

A multi-collision braking system stops the car after an impact to lessen the effect of a further accident, and it also has a front assist system that helps reduce the chance of an accident in the first place by warning the driver and then braking if no action is taken.

FAST FACTS

Price:£16,700

Mechanical:95bhp, 999cc, 3cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 5-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed:115mph

0-62mph:10.7 seconds

Combined MPG: 51

Insurance Group: 9

C02 emissions: 103g/km

Bik rating:24%

Warranty:3yrs/60,000 miles

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