Models including the Vauxhall Corsa and Volkswagen Polo offer this set-up, along with the latest model in the Skoda Fabia range, which went on sale this month. At £6,995 on-the-road, it is the cheapest Skoda in the range. Offering 54bhp at 4,750rpm and 77lb-ft of torque at 3,000rpm, it staggers to 62mph in 18.5 seconds and can make 93mph when pushed hard.
But it is an absolute hoot to drive.
The three-cylinder engine sounds like a racing car and although it is slow off the mark, you still get the buzz of the engine roaring to its limit without breaking the speed limit.
Sounding like a cross between a V6 and a motorbike, you can 'red line' the engine in first, second and third gears and still be travelling at under 60mph – safe but fun. I imagine that after a few weeks the novelty would wear off and the performance limitations would become much more apparent, but I didn't become tired of it during a long drive.
Although the price is bargain basement, there is still a good smattering of standard equipment, including anti-lock brakes and driver and passenger airbags. Combined fuel economy is 47.1mpg, while CO2 emissions of 144g/km keep the Fabia safely in the lowest 15% company car tax band until at least 2005.
Skoda Fabia 1.2 Classic
Price (OTR): £6,995
Engine (cc): 1,198
Max power (bhp/rpm): 54/4,750
Max torque (lb-ft/rpm): 77/3,000
Max speed (mph): 93
0-62mph (secs): 8.5
Fuel consumption (mpg): 47.1
CO2 emissions (g/km): 144
CAP residual value (3yrs/60,000 miles): £2,250/32%