Thursday 5 December 2019

Fabia has tempting price, but stumbles at base camp

The new Skoda Fabia
The new Skoda Fabia

Martin Brennan

Is Skoda underestimating the expectations of younger drivers? Their new Fabia entry-level price is a mouth-watering €13,995, but it comes without air conditioning and Bluetooth phone connectivity.

The price will definitely raise the interest of the new target, and lady buyers in particular are of interest. The smarter looks, a red roof and red wheels are available at a price, but it may be a big ask to forego what many drivers would say are essential items.

Skoda may well have under-estimated expectations on these items if they are to draw in the younger set. In fact, air conditioning is not a standard item on the next level up on the entry-level model, which is expected to sell at €15,500. Skoda say that not many Irish buyers had air conditioning as a priority item, but expectations are changing as manufacturers add more kit to their cars.

The top level of trim version, "Style," - which has air conditioning - is down in price compared to the outgoing equivalent version, but with a higher specification level. There is a top level of kit including 16" alloy wheels, electric windows, keyless start and parking sensors.

But Fabia is not short on technology even at entry-level "Active" version. There is a full level of safety devices and Stop-Start on all models. The mid-level "Ambition" gets a new touchscreen, 15" alloy wheels, LED lights, Bluetooth and multi-function steering wheel. Also available is a MirrorLink, which puts information onto an Android smartphone where date, music and driver feed-back can be stored. The new model arrives early next month for 2015 sales. Skoda say the new model will attract 1,000 sales compared to the 500 of the outgoing model this year.

Lower, wider and shorter, but on an extended wheelbase, there is more room inside with improved rear legroom. Expect to find improved levels of seating, dash layout and the best in its class boot space at 330 litres. The next nearest in the Renault Clio with 300 litres. Owners can choose two-tone colours with the roof matching the colour of the alloy wheels - a red roof and red wheels will certainly attract attention.

The Fabia is now 65kg lighter and with reworked power plants all petrol models only attract €190 road tax with diesel engines down to €180. Top sellers will be the one-litre three-cylinder 60bhp and 75bhp petrol units and there is also a gutsy 1.2 litre TSI 90bhp. On the diesel side there are two power options in the 1.4-litre unit.

Sunday Independent

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