Although the demand for compact SUVs is high, the similar sized but less tall supermini hatchbacks are still the UK’s best selling new cars with the Ford Fiesta supermini range still leading the way as Britain’s most popular new car.
One of the Fiesta’s rivals is the not so new but cheaper and very popular Skoda Fabia. Other competitors are the very new SEAT Ibiza which uses the Volkswagen Group’s new supermini platform and the VW Polo which currently uses the same platform as the Fabia, but a new Polo arrives early next year with the new platform.
Where the Skoda Fabia has two distinct advantages over the Ibiza five door Hatch and Polo three and five door Hatchback is lower price and the Fabia line up includes three and five door Hatch and five door Estates versions.
The Fabia Hatch prices start from £11,100 and the Estates from £12,980 whilst SEAT’s Ibiza five door Hatchback prices start from £13,130 and the Polo five door Hatchback costs from £12,690. Of course all are available with either deposit contributions using their finance schemes or discounts and of course there are Scrappage Scheme savings.
In the case of the Fabia it’s a Scrappage Scheme saving of £2,500. This offer applies to owners of any make of pre Euro 5 emissions diesel car registered before 2010 and the customer must have owned the trade-in vehicle for at least six months. Under this scheme orders must be placed before 31 December 2017.
For this road test I’m looking at the Fabia Hatch, in particular the special Edition RedLine at £15,995. The full choice of specifications throughout the range are S, SE, SE L, Monte Carlo plus a new Colour Edition array of bright colours and the sporty looking RedLine variant which is only available as a five door hatch and only with the 110hp engine.
The full range of engine choices for Fabia models, depending on the specification level chosen, are 1.0 MPI normally aspirated petrol units with 60 and 75hp outputs, the 1.0-litre TSI 95 and 110hp turbo petrol units and 1.4 TDI turbodiesels with 90 and 105hp outputs. Price wise the test drive RedLine model appears to sit in the range between the SE L and Monte Carlo mainstream specification levels.
The RedLine Hatch is about sporty equipment more than rev-counter ‘redline’ speed. My test car had a bright Moon White body colour with a red line and parallel grey line side by side running from the front grille, over the roof and down the tailgate.
It had red door mirror cappings as well. Also included were black 16-inch alloy wheels, three spoke flat bottomed leather steering wheel, leather covered handbrake and gearlever, cloth covered sports seats, uprated surround sound system with six speakers, DAB radio, electric front windows, electrically powered and heated door mirrors, front fog lights, manual air-con, trip computer, Mirror Link connectivity, Bluetooth and alarm.
It also had radar rear parking sensors unlike the new SEAT Ibiza. But like the Ibiza it didn’t have electrically operated rear side windows or a spare wheel, but that is an £85 option unlike the £100 extra cost for the Ibiza.
This third generation Skoda Fabia does lose out on interior space compared to the latest generation SEAT Ibiza with the new VW Group supermini platform. It doesn’t have the same amount of rear seat legroom and the boot with the folding rear three seat backs in place is 330-litres and with them folded 1,150-litres whilst the Ibiza offers 355 and 1,540-litres.
The ride comfort is also not as compliant with impacts from potholes felt more inside. Compared to the Ibiza’s FR spec lower sports suspension the Fabia’s ride was more unsettled and harsh. The Fabia still offers neat handling but doesn’t have the fast steering response and sharp turn-in abilities of the latest Ibiza but that’s £635 more.
Skoda Fabia Hatch RedLine 1.0 TSI, 110hp manual £15,995
Engine/transmission: 1.0-litre, 3-cylinder turbocharged petrol, 110hp, 200Nm of torque from 2,000rpm, 6-spoeed manual
Performance: 122mph, 0-62mph 9.5-secponds, Combined Cycle 64.2mpg (48.7mpg on test)
CO2 103g/km, VED road tax £140, BiK company car tax 19%
Insurance Group: 11E Warranty: 3-years/60,000-miles
Dimensions/capacities: L 3,992mm, W 1,732mm, H 1,467mm, boot/load space 330 to 1,150-litres, 5-doors/5-seats
For: Well priced, high sports style specification, perky engine, slick 6-speed gearchange, good fuel economy potential, cost effective to buy and run for retail customers
Against: Unsettled ride over poorer urban road surfaces, road noise intrusion, uses an older platform than the new SEAT Ibiza, no electric rear side windows, spare wheel is an extra cost option.
© David Miles