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Skoda Fabia long-term review

Find out how we're getting on with our Car of the Year

Words ByTom Webster

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The car Skoda Fabia 1.2 TSI 90 SE
Run by Tom Webster
Needs to Prove it's worthy of the Car of the Year title
Run by What Car? since June 2015

My rating

It’s not often I can claim superiority over all of my colleagues, but with my latest long-term test car I’ve secured bragging rights until the end of 2015 at the very least.

That’s because I am driving the 2015 What Car? Car of the Year, the Skoda Fabia, and it’s in the precise spec and trim that was named the best of the best. The engine is pretty much slap bang in the middle of the range, as the lower-powered version of the 1.2-litre TSI petrol, while the trim is the mid-spec SE.

Naturally it was assessed thoroughly before being bestowed with its prestigious gong, but the Fabia will now be subjected to even more scrutiny over the coming months, as it settles into the slightly less glamorous role of ferrying me to work and back, and serving as my weekend workhorse on the occasions I flee the capital in search of countryside.

To see exactly what the award-winning spec is like to live with, we have kept clear of the options list, with two small exceptions. The first is a steel space saver spare wheel at Β£85 - something that will hopefully never be needed – and the second is the metallic Race Blue paint, a Β£535 option chosen to add a splash of colour.

As it is, SE trim is handsomely equipped. There’s a large touchscreen that dominates the centre of the Fabia’s dashboard, and, having previously run a more expensive Seat Leon Cupra, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the basics of this system are much the same in the two cars. Elements like the favourites buttons on the Bluetooth phone screen, the chunky preset options for the radio, the clear DAB digital radio system and the easy to use menus are all fantastic.

One thing that is lacking on the Fabia range, for now at least, is a sat-nav. However, the car should pair up with an Android phone through the Mirrorlink system to allow a form of navigation. Unfortunately, as an iPhone owner, I am going to have to rely on maps, and pester my colleagues for a loan of their phone to test the system out further.

I’ve recently passed 1000 miles in the Fabia, and so far the 1.2-litre engine has proved up to all the tasks I’ve thrown at it. It’s spent a fair amount of its time shuttling me between my home and the office, and it’s been a wonderful companion on these trips, as it is quiet enough to allow me to enjoy a touch of peace on the morning commute. The only quibble so far has been with the gearshift, which has proved reluctant to shift into first on a couple of occasions. It seems to be getting easier as the miles rack up, though, so this may well be a case of the car settling down.

Otherwise, I have noticed that the city-brake system has been rather quick to warn me of obstacles ahead. It’s never got close to actually putting the brakes on (and I hope it never does) but it has made its presence known more than any other car I’ve driven with a similar setup.

More tests are ahead, with weekend trips planned to visit far-flung family members, and a bike that needs to be squeezed into the boot. Hopefully it will cope with everything as well as it has so far.

Skoda Fabia 1.2 TSI 90 SE statistics

Price Β£13,450
Target Price click here for latest Target Price
Price as tested Β£14,070
Extras Race Blue metallic paint (Β£535); Temporary spare saver steel wheel (Β£85)

Mileage to date 1065
Test fuel economy 37.5mpg
True MPG 44.9mpg
CO2/tax liability 107g/km/16%
Contract hire Β£191
Cost per mile 32p
Insurance group 8
Typical quote Β£367

Read more updates from the What Car? long-term test fleet