Skoda Fabia performance isn’t exactly awe-inspiring but it’s a strong engine line-up nevertheless.
There are three petrols kicking off with a three-cylinder 1.2-litre unit which is available with 60bhp or 70bhp but despite the modest power outputs this little powerplant is impressive.
It provides a charismatic engine note and is great fun to drive, especially in and around town - you do have to work it quite hard but the snappy gearshift makes this more of a pleasure than a chore.
Buyers who do more motorway driving should try the 1.4-litre with 86bhp - it’s quick-off-the-mark which makes it an ideal urban runabout, while it can hold its own for short stretches on faster roads. Better still is the 104bhp 1.2 TSI turbocharged four-cylinder engine that gives 0-62mph in 10.1 seconds and can also be ordered with a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch gearbox to replace the standard five-speed manual transmission.
The 1.2 TSI engine is also offered in 85bhp form for SE, SE Plus, Elegance and Monte Carlo models and comes with a five-speed manual gearbox to provide 0-62mph in 11.7 seconds. Like all petrol engines in the Fabia, the 1.2 is smooth and surprisingly full of vigour for a small capacity motor.
Skoda has long since ditched the old 1.9-litre 104bhp turbodiesel from the Fabia range and replaced it with a range of 1.6-litre diesels that come in 74-, 89- and 104bhp forms.
These new 1.6-litre engines are much more refined, punchy and happier to rev than the old engine, as well as delivering improved economy and lower emissions. The mid-level 1.6 TDI gives 0-62mph in 12.6 seconds, with the 74bhp version 1.5 seconds slower and the 104bhp 1.5 seconds quicker for the same sprint.
All of these engines manage 67.3mpg average economy and 109g/km carbon dioxide emissions, which is good, but nearly as good as the Greenline model.
The Greenline II has a 74bhp 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine and five-speed manual gearbox, both of which have been optimised for economy and low emissions. The results are 83.1mpg and 89g/km of CO2 in a car that is little slower from 0-62mph (14.2 seconds) than the base 1.6 diesel. For the diesel engines in the Fabia, the only mild disappointment is they are not as refined as some rivals’.
While the Skoda Fabia Greenline II has superb economy and emissions, we reckon the 104bhp 1.2 TSI petrol is the better bet for everyday driving, especially if you need to take in a variety of differing road conditions.
The Fabia is easy rather than exciting to drive - the steering is light, it's simple to park and it's very comfortable on the motorway. On A and B-roads it steers precisely and corners well, although there's a degree of body roll.
But the ride is exemplary - it copes superbly with potholes and lumps in the road and the progressive brakes add to the surefooted feeling. It's not as agile as some rivals but feels well planted to the road with excellent road manners.