Skoda Fabia Estate

  Think about it. How many superminis currently in production can you name? Corsa, Polo, Ibiza, Yaris, I20, Clio, Jazz, A1, Ibiza, MiTo, 500, DS3… There’s a dozen straight away. It’s not such hard question really is it?

    OK, now try this one: How many supermini estates currently in production can you name?

   Suddenly the list gets a lot, lot shorter doesn’t it? Full marks if you mentioned the Dacia Logan. The Hillman Husky and Mini Clubman estate no longer count I’m afraid; read the question again, carefully. And no, there’s never been a Fiesta Estate – ever.  

    Skoda on the other hand has always offered the option of an estate version of their somewhat solid and sensible Fabia. And, since it first appeared it’s always offered a good mix of space and practicality, as well as the promise of reasonable running costs. Also, because it’s essentially a stretched hatchback it’s never felt like you’re driving the family bus.

    It’s perhaps partly due the fact that so few other manufacturers offer an estate variant of their own and more often than not best-seller supermini that Skoda predict that this, the third generation Fabia Estate, will be the best selling model in its class. Just in case you were wondering, competition albeit scarce, comes from the aforementioned Dacia Logan (very much the budget option), and the almost mechanically identical (and VW fellow brand) SEAT Ibiza ST. In a world where car manufacturers seem to create niches we weren’t aware even existed simply so they can fill them, after a week in the company of the latest Fabia Esate I’m trying to fathom quite why everyone isn’t jumping on this particular band-(should that say station?)-wagon. Here’s why.

  With it rear seats folded down the new Fabia Estate offers the same boot space as a Vauxhall Insignia hatch, a car that if you were to park the Fabia Estate alongside would simply look gargantuan. Granted, the Vauxhall seats 3 across its rear bench with far more ease, but the Skoda will accommodate 3 abreast too - as long as their friendly. And ask yourself this: Which one would you rather find a parking space for in the multi-storey?

    You shouldn’t think that because it’s small that the Fabia Estate feels under-powered either. Tick the box for the 1.2 turbo-charged petrol engine (as tested here) and not only will it come with the promise of 60.1 mpg, the ability to hit sixty in a not-so-shabby-for-tiny-four-pot-motor 11seconds and CO2 emissions of just 107g/km, but also a liberal spread of usable and useful torque that when used in conjunction with the sweet shifting 5-speed gearbox makes this little engine feel that it’s punching way beyond it’s weight. It’s smooth, quiet and refined, and I rather like it.

    The ride and handling too could be described in a similar way. It won’t take a genius more than a second glance to work out that this is not a sports car, but then neither is trying to be one; comfort and predictability instead are the order of the day. The steering is light but direct, the ride is good on all but the worst of surfaces, and body roll is kept to a minimum. It’s comfy and undemanding. I like quite that too.

    I also like that fact that even if some of the plastics used in the cabin aren’t quite as plush as you’d find say, in a Polo, all of the bits you actually touch are. The indicator stalks, the switches for the air-con, the DAB unit, the rather lovely leather steering wheel… it’s all VW, and it all feels bullet-proof. Even the bits you can’t see are the same. The Fabia sits on the ubiquitous MQB platform - well a mix of that and the previous Fabia chassis – and a look under the bonnet reveals more Volkswagen stamps than there are in the Wolfsburg Post Office.

    Simply Clever is the phrase Skoda now uses to describe their cars and in the case of the Fabia Estate I’d say they’ve hit the nail right on the head.  To sum up by simply calling it a well equipped, comfy, and practical and pleasing little car somehow feels that I am in someway damning it with faint praise. And yet, that’s exactly what it is.

   And yet it feels more than just that

   All things considered, it’s (almost) in a class of its own.

 

Skoda Fabia Estate SE 1.2 TSI

 

Engine: 1,197 cc, 4Cyl, petrol turbo

Transmission: 5 speed Manual. Front wheel drive

Power: 90 bhp @ 4,400 – 5,400 rpm

Torque:  118 lbft @ 1,400 - 3500 rpm

0-62mph: 10.9 sec

Max Speed: 115 mph

MPG:  60.1 combined.

CO2: 107 g/km

Price: from £14,535 (as tested £15,480)

 

Many thanks to Amy and Nicki at Skoda’s UK press office for the loan of the FABIA

www.liam-bird.com

@bird_liam

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Liam Bird Liam Bird

I'm Liam Bird, a freelance Motoring Writer based in the South Shropshire Marches. I currently write car reviews and road tests for a number of regional lifestyle magazines and newspapers which are distributed throughout Cheshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, most of Wales and beyond.

As a member of the Welsh Group of Motoring Writers I'm as happy behind the wheel of a super-mini as I am in the latest super-car. I have press accreditation with most of the major motor manufacturers, meaning that as well as always being on the look out for further commissions, I always have a number of cars arriving each month ready to review.

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