CarsMotormouth Reviews

Skoda’s Fabia Combi impresses on all fronts

Skoda Fabia
Skoda Fabia

Bad news always seems to follow good news. A thriving motor industry has seen a good start to 2015 as forecourts have seen an increase in footfall in the first few months.

But sadly the industry is losing another manufacturer as Chrysler will be pulling out of Europe in the near future. They’ve struggled to meet sales expectations and their higher-emission cars haven’t appealed to the Irish, or European, market.

That’s what manufacturers are up against, and getting a formula that can attract buyers, with a line-up of models to suit varying lifestyles, is probably the biggest battle of all. Skoda seems to have succeeded more than most, and in recent years they have been increasing their market share.

You can see the success of the Czech brand with the amount of new Skodas on our roads. Even the underwhelming Rapid model – which has been improved and in Spaceback form is actually very good – has proved to be a good value choice for families.

If you look across the line-up, there isn’t a bad car, and my latest test was the new Skoda Fabia Combi. The Fabia is a very important car for Skoda as it appeals to those looking for real value, without compromising on space. Thankfully, the designers got it right this time, as the last version of both hatch and combi was a little ungainly, with a high roof line that was not that appealing to look at.

The new model is much more in line with the other new models from Skoda, like the brilliant Octavia and the stunning new Superb. 

The latest Fabia is a stylish little thing in hatch form, but is equally appealing in estate guise. And when you think that this is a compact car, then you will be amazed at the room it offers. 

All five passengers will be seated comfortably, with plenty of leg and head room. And a massive 530 litres of boot space makes this Fabia Combi a great motor for families that need that little bit extra. 

It also drives better than the outgoing model, and the 1.2 TSi (90bhp) engine that powered my test car was a cracking little engine. Why you would pick a diesel over this is beyond me as the petrol offers as much value as the oil burner, falling into tax band A3 (€190) a year and a fuel economy figure of around five litres per 100km.

It’s an engine that has good acceleration, but you could go for the 110bhp version which offers a little more punch for not a lot more cash. 

It handles really well also, as my skills were tested trying to catch a red-eye flight after sleeping through my alarm. All within the legal speed limits of course.

Inside, you get a well-built cabin and plenty of equipment to make this a seriously good value car. I was testing the top-of-the-range Style model which came with 16-inch alloys, rear parking sensors, air con, LED driving lights and a colour touchscreen. The entry-level model comes with steel wheels, but at €15,495 is a lot of car and space for the money. You’ll be more tempted by the mid-range Ambition model, which at €16,595 really is a bargain.

The Fabia Combi has really improved and makes the Skoda family even stronger. With a new found love and appreciation of estate cars, Irish buyers will be seriously impressed with the new Fabia estate, even before they see the price of it.

Paul Keown