|High on the highway: The petrol Fabia is an effortless car to drive
Dieselpower is catching on, but there will always be those who want the refinement of a petrol engine, or their higher-than-diesel rev limits. These people will not mind paying that extra bit at the pump. For them, the gains are worth it. Skoda has launched petrol versions of the Fabia for customers like these, beginning with the 1.4-litre version.
The Fabias relatively heavy door slams shut with a satisfying thunk. The tinny sound that you hear when you shut other small cars doors is mercifully missing in the Fabia. Its cabin is identical to the Fabias diesel version. This means that the build quality can rival cars from a few segments higher.
Making yourself comfortable at the Fabias wheel is easy, thanks to two-way adjustment for both the steering wheel and drivers seat. The dash has a simple, logical layout (except for the configuration of the headlight/wiper stalks), making it very easy and instinctive to use. However, the design is a bit plain. You get a good view of the road from the front seats, thanks to the thin windscreen pillars and the steering wheel feels quite nice to grip.
The Fabia is at the top end of the super-mini class, so it is very spacious. All the seats offer plenty of head-and-leg-room, enough for four strapping adults to travel in comfort, and five to squeeze in for shorter journeys. The boot is deep and well shaped, and easily capable of lugging all the baggage from your mall trips.
Start the motor and you will be instantly floored by its quietness. Slot into first, release the clutch (which is lighter than the diesels) and you get a taste of the cars instant responsiveness. This 1390cc, 16-valve engine uses four cylinders, unlike the diesels three. It puts out a modest 85bhp.
The standout feature of the engine is its refinement, even near the redline. In the power stakes, the car lies between the Swift petrols 87bhp and the Getz petrols 83bhp. But the Fabia weighs a bit more than these two cars, so you cant expect its performance to be quite as good as the other two.
Power delivery is very linear — its spread out over a wide 6000rpm powerband and this makes the petrol Fabia very easy to drive in traffic; even more than the Swift. In fact, this is an effortless car to drive — you do not have to wait to get past the 2000rpm mark to get the best power like you do in the diesel Fabia.
The Fabia is big by super-mini standards, but compact enough to excel in the city, and the controls are light too. The Fabia rides comfortably, doing a smooth job of levelling out patchy surfaces. It does lean a little through corners but the tyres grip the road surface reassuringly. The Fabias steering is well-weighted and while it doesnt have the greatest feedback, it is entirely consistent in its control over the front wheels.
The 1.4-litre engine is strong throughout most of the rev range, but you will have to downshift when overtaking to summon extra power for a quick move.
The Fabia scores in the areas of interior space, quality, comfort, ride and build quality. It is arguably the best-engineered small car available in India at the moment. What works against it is its steep price. If youre looking to replace your familys small car in the next few months, consider this Fabia.
Skoda fabia (petrol)
• Price: Rs 7.14 lakh *
• Length: 3992mm
• Width: 1642mm
• Height: 1513mm
• Wheelbase: 2462mm
• Engine: 4 cyls in line, 1390cc
• Installation: Front, transverse, front-wheel drive
• Power: 85bhp at 5000rpm
• Torque: 13.4kgm @3800rpm
• Gearbox: 5-speed manual
• Fuel tank : 45 litres
• Brakes (F/R) : Ventilated discs/drums
• Tyre size : 185/60 R14
• Boot: 300 - 1163 litres