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Skoda Fabia 1.4 16v

Skoda

Review

PURISTS would say Skoda belongs to the cheat's school of car production - if you can't beat 'em, get some help from someone who frequently does. Such has been the transformation from laughing stock to prime stock since the Volkswagen buyout in 1991. No other model epitomises this resurgence better than the Octavia hatchback. Now Skoda has further increased its appeal with the launch of the funky new Fabia.

Third place in the 2000 JD Power/Top Gear customer satisfaction survey compounds Skoda's fifth place last year and it's this success that undoubtedly helped the Fabia become one of only five cars shortlisted for the 2000 European Car of the Year Award. The Fabia is also the first car to be built on Volkswagen's new small car platform - set to underpin the Audi A2 and the next generation SEAT Ibiza and Volkswagen Polo in 2002. At 3,690mm, the Fabia is not only longer than most competitors, but at 2,462mm its wheelbase outstretches the Toyota Yaris, Ford Fiesta, new Fiat Punto - and is only 49mm shy of the Golf in the class above.

To date, three engine choices have been launched: the familiar 100bhp 1.4 16v as used in the Lupo and the new Polo, a 68bhp 1.4 8v and a 68bhp normally-aspirated diesel. By the summer we will see a 50bhp 1.0-litre petrol unit and a 100bhp 1.9-litre TDI on offer, followed by a 75bhp version of the 1.4 16v with automatic transmission only and a 120bhp 2.0-litre later in the year. Three trim choices suffice: Classic, Comfort and Elegance; expect an estate option to follow.

Prices start at ú7,594 for the 1.0-litre Classic and rise to ú12,399 for the 1.9 TDI Elegance, with diesels commanding a ú500 premium over the equivalent petrol.

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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