Driven: Skoda Fabia Colour Edition

It’s time to put my money where my mouth is…

The Skoda Fabia should fly out of the showroom, young drivers snapping them up thanks to the combination of good value, excellent finance deals, and low running costs. It’s just not a particularly exciting car to look at, which is why Skoda has the Colour Edition listed in its range.

Based around the well specified SE model, the Colour Edition adds cruise control and LED daytime running lights to the equipment list, a list that already includes air conditioning, parking sensors and a surround sound stereo system. More obviously though, it also comes in a choice of four bold colours, with contrasting roof and wheels. Dress it up in blue with black roof and wheels, or the bright green with white roof and wheels, and it looks as funky as Mark Wahlberg in the early 90s – that’s a reference the target audience for this car just won’t get.

There’s a suitably small engine under the bonnet of this small car, namely a tiny 1.0-litre petrol unit with just three cylinders, producing a rather meagre 75hp. There’s a slightly more expensive model that has a turbo bolted on, but the extra 20hp it provides won’t be enough to get anybody too excited. That means 0-62mph takes a rather pedestrian 14.6 seconds, but it’s lively enough around town to live with, and it’ll cope at motorway speeds. The five-speed gearbox helps mitigate performance issues a little, being quick, smooth and precise, although the ratios are widely spread.

Cross country work will have you relying on momentum rather than power, which means using the chassis to its best. Fortunately it’s well balanced with plenty of grip, while the light steering is precise if lacking in feel – it just doesn’t communicate what’s happening on the tarmac as well as the Fiesta or Swift. It rides well, too, the relatively soft suspension separating most of the road from the cabin.

Competent, but not exactly fun. Still, Fabia’s all about how much you get for your money, rather than proving who’s fastest to the McDonald’s car park. It’s as you’d expect upfront, with a conventional dashboard and instrument binnacle. It’s neat, inoffensive and undoubtedly high quality, but, again, not very exciting. The rear seats are excellent, with just about enough width for three friendly adults to squeeze into place, while the boot is huge. At 330 litres, there’s more space than you’ll find in a Ford Fiesta, and even a Ford Focus.

Then there’s the ‘Simply Clever’ bits that Skoda puts into its cars. These are small touches, often unnecessary, but help to separate the cars from its mainstream rivals. On the Fabia that means there are fold-down hooks in the boot to keep bags upright, an umbrella under the front passenger seat, and an ice scraper hidden away in the fuel flap – you won’t need to open the car door and let snow and ice in before you clear the windscreen!

And, of course, it’s cheap to run. That engine promises a healthy 57.6mpg, although real-world see will see a result close to 40-45mpg for most people. Service intervals are once a year, or every 10,000 miles, and there’s the option to buy a service pack for just £279 that’ll cover servicing for two years. At group three insurance, it’s just about the cheapest car on the market to insure, which will appeal to younger drivers especially.

Is the Colour Edition the best Fabia to buy? If you’re using just your head, probably not, as the SE on which it’s based is cheaper and offers everything bar cruise control. However, the £540 upgrade to the Colour Edition brings that bold paint and coloured wheels and roof, which will appeal to the fashion conscious. It’s such a small difference, it’s probably worth it.

I hope it is worth it, as I’ve just bought one for my daughter!

Model Tested: Skoda Fabia Colour Edition 1.0 MPI
Price: £14,165
Range: £10,500 – £18,720
Top speed: 107 mph
0-62 mph: 14.7 seconds
Power: 75 PS (74 bhp)
Torque: 95 Nm (70 ft lb)
Monthly PCP*: £193
Official fuel economy: 57.6 mpg
Road test economy: N/A
CO2 Emissions: 111 g/km
Car Tax: £140
Insurance group: 3E
* Monthly PCP estimate based on 20% deposit, 36 month term, 5% APR, final payment of 40%.

Phil Huff

Phil is a motoring writer for print and web, failed racing driver, car hoarder and banger rally competitor. Nominated for the Headline Auto Rising Star award and a MGMW member, Phil freelances for outlets as diverse as Diesel Car magazine, DAD.info and Cambridge Magazine, amongst many others. He also maintains a fleet of unloved motors, but spends most of his time driving an old Corvette.

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