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Family fortunes: Skoda Fabia range has something for everyone

The Skoda Fabia comes in many shapes and sizes suitable for families, big and small. Ryan Hirons checks out a recent refresh

Having been with us since 1995, the Skoda Fabia is a popular workhorse of the supermini, or small family car, class.

A refreshed third generation model has provided a timely update, and there are a variety of models, including hatch and estate, to accommodate those with small families, large families or no family at all.

What's new?

As far as facelifts go, don't expect a revolution with the latest Fabia revamp; but that's not to say there hasn't been some notable changes. A tweaked look comes thanks to new headlights, a larger grille and a fettled bumper, with LED daytime running lights now a standard feature.

New dashboard trims bring a revived lease of life to the cabin, while more assistance tech makes this the safest Fabia to date.

What's under the bonnet?

As for engines, there's been little in the way of change - although the line-up now consists exclusively of petrol units, with three set to be offered in the UK.

Powering our test car (an estate in Monte Carlo trim) is a 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder, here paired up to a five-speed manual gearbox, developing 94bhp and 160Nm of torque. It can take the estate from 0-60mph in 10.7 seconds and on to a 115mph top speed. As for efficiency, Skoda claims it can achieve 63mpg with CO2 emissions of 103g/km.

On paper, it doesn't sound particularly fast - in fact, quite slow - but in reality, it's fairly sprightly.

OK, we're not suggesting it'll give you a fright when you put your foot down, but there's certainly enough go to have some fun with, and it's definitely more than up to the job if you plan on using the car for getting around town.

What's it like to drive?

Nothing has really changed in the way the Fabia drives, which means it's still a pleasant experience behind the wheel. It's well suited for the town, thanks to light-but-not-overly so steering paired up with good all-round visibility, while the addition of a parking camera to our test car just made it that little bit easier to pinpoint.

Take it out on a B road, and it's not the most dynamic of machinery, but by no means bad. It's not quite as fun as rivals like the Ford Fiesta or Suzuki Swift when things get a little bit tighter, but it handles well and doesn't roll around a huge amount.

How does it look?

Although it looks largely the same as before, a little bit of nip and tuck has given the aesthetic a new lease of life. Revised headlights, combined with a larger grille, give it a little more presence on the road and even creates a mini Superb-like look.

LED daytime running lights as standard also means the whole range looks more premium than before.

LED rear lights now feature on the options list, but it's hard to see much difference than before without them. It remains a good-looking car, and the tweaks mean it's not yet showing its age - despite its VW Group stablemates brasher look as a result of the longer wheelbase on the MQB A0 platform.

What's it like inside?

The Skoda Fabia benefits from some new dashboard trims with this facelift, which keeps it up to date. Despite its relatively low price point, it doesn't feel particularly cheap to be in and it's genuinely quite pleasant.

Monte Carlo trims brings sports seats and carbon-effect finishers, and while we like the former, the latter doesn't really do more for the interior.

As for space, our estate test car offers 530 litres of boot space - although rivals don't come with such a body option. The hatch can store 330 litres of luggage with all seats in place, boasting more than the Ford Fiesta's 292 litres, although less than the Seat Ibiza's 355 litres.

What's the spec like?

Keeping in line with usual facelift formalities, the updated Skoda Fabia gains more tech as standard - with more also joining the options list. Every car now gets LED daytime running lights for no extra cost, while autonomous emergency braking also comes as part of the package.

There's a bunch of hatchback models and variations to choose from, including S, SE, SE L and fully-loaded Monte Carlo.

With the range starting at £12,840, the Skoda Fabia might just be one of the best bargains on the market. The entry level S model is well enough specced, including tyre pressure monitor, curtain/side airbags, stop/start and 6.5-in touchscreen display with Bluetooth and USB.

Range-topping Monte Carlo costs from £17,185 and adds climate control, LED rear lights and electric rear windows, along with styling upgrades in the form of a black-painted front spoiler, roof and matching floor mats.

For larger families, or bigger carrying requirements, the Fabia Estate, known in some markets at the Fabia Combi, also comes in S, SE, SE L and Monte Carlo trims.

Verdict

The updated Skoda Fabia is a facelift in its truest form, bringing minor touches and tweaks to a car that's recognisable to a point you won't immediately notice the difference.

That's no bad thing in this case, with the compact machine still proving that it has a lot to give despite the recent total refresh many rivals have gone for.

It may not offer the most engaging of driving experiences, but as a daily machine, it's definitely one of the best-valued packages in its segment.

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