First drive Skoda Fabia

For many years, it was the butt of numerous jokes, but now Skoda is having the last laugh with the news that its global annual sales have broken the one million mark for the first 

With the latest sales figures up by almost 13 per cent since 2013, the company’s fortunes have been transformed since it was taken over by Volkswagen – and it’s time to consign those tired jokes to the bin.

And when you drive one of the latest models – in this case, a Fabia – it’s easy to see why Skoda is on the up and up

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Now in its third generation, the Fabia offers even more interior space than previous incarnations, combined with a facelift which gives the car a more distinctive look. It shares a grille and headlamp design with the Octavia and Rapid, with an overall more sporty apperance than its predecessor.

Inside, the revamp has given the Fabia a cleaner, more streamlined look – there’s an easy-to-use touchscreen display, controlling everything from the DAB radio to phone connectivity, while the other controls are also simple and precise.

Equipment levels are good too – from the height-adjustable driver’s seat (a boon for the vertically- challenged such as myself!) to the electric mirrors, leather steering wheel, air conditioning and parking sensors. It also gets a five-star Euro NCAP rating on the safety front – with curtain airbags, traction control, electronic stability control and tyre pressure monitoring. Space-wise, the Fabia leads the way with its very roomy interior – it’s only available as a five-door and there is ample room for four adults with plenty of legroom. A roomy glovebox and lots of little cubby holes mean plenty of space for storage too – while the boot is probably the biggest in its category, swallowing large loads with ease.

There’s a good choice of engines too – everything from a three-cylinder 1.0-litre MPI to a 1.4TDi.

The 1.2 four-cylinder 90bhp TSI unit does 0-62mph in 10.9s and claims a combined fuel consumption figure of 60.1mpg – ours certainly showed figures in excess of 50mpg on a regular 

It’s substantially lighter than previous models too, which not only adds to the efficiency, but shows in the handling. The Fabia handles well, with nice, positive steering and a comfortable ride, although there can be a bit of cabin noise either from the wind during motorway trips or on rougher surfaces such as 

So should you buy one? Well, if you’re in the market for a five-door supermini, then the Fabia scores highly when compared to its main rivals such as the Ford Fiesta, Renault Clio and, of course, the Volkswagen Polo, especially in terms of its high levels of spec and excellent interior space.

With our test model coming in at around £1000 cheaper than the equivalent Polo model, it’s hard to see why you wouldn’t seriously consider the Fabia unless you particularly covet that VW badge.

Opt for the Fabia and you’ll be the one who’s laughing – all the way to the bank.