It was the first car to use the platform that would form the basis of the current Volkswagen Polo and SEAT Ibiza and was a fine supermini in its own right without relying on a low price to sell it. It has taken a while, but last year Skoda introduced a second pumpe duse turbodiesel into the range with the frugal 1.4 TDi – a unit used by Volkswagen, SEAT and Audi.
Its 144lb-ft of torque is comfortably higher than the largest petrol-engined Skoda (a 115bhp 2.0-litre) and promises more than 60mpg on the combined cycle.
While this figure should win it a few friends with long intervals between fill-ups, Skoda has just missed out on a lower Vehicle Excise Duty band by 4g/km. It's a difference of £30 a year. I suppose engineering cars for the idiosyncrasies of the UK market can't be justified on a global scale.
Our test car, in Comfort trim, is priced at £10,168 on- the-road and includes plenty of equipment as standard.
There is a CD player, electric front windows and door mirrors, remote central locking and a fold-flat split rear seat.
The Fabia is a handsome car with a distinctive front end, giving it more road presence than the average supermini, while the rear is neat and tidy.
The three-cylinder engine is a little noisier than some modern common rail units, but on the move it settles down and does its job in a businesslike fashion.
While the traditional benchmark performance figures aren't that flattering, the Fabia's class-leading torque, alongside the Ibiza and Polo which use the same engine, makes for interesting mid-range acceleration figures.
Skoda claims the Fabia will accelerate from 60-100kph (37-62mph) in fourth gear in a shade over 10 seconds and this type of performance is invaluable when joining motorways on sliproads.
The Fabia has safe handling characteristics, which are well suited to the performance of the engine, although the electric power steering is lacking in feel.
The Fabia is also one of the roomier superminis around, making it a suitable candidate for downsizing for someone used to driving a lower-medium car. It might not be the obvious choice as an economical supermini, but it offers good performance and strong economy in a roomy package.
Model: Skoda Fabia 1.4 TDi PD 75 bhp
Engine (cc): 1,422
Power: (bhp/rpm): 75/4,000
Torque (lb-ft/rpm): 144/2,200
Max speed (mph): 104
0-62mph (sec): 14.2
Fuel consumption (mpg): 61.4
CO2 emissions (g/km): 124
Price (OTR): £10,168