Launchpad Skoda has launched the new Fabia with a host of improvements and has reduced the price too. Ouseph Chacko has the details

A fter the BS IV emission norms were enforced, the Fabia went on a bit of a sabbatical but it is back now with lots of improvements. But before we rave about the upgrades and performance figures and handling qualities of this car, there is the most important factor. Skoda has dropped the Fabia's prices across the entire range.

The top-end Fabia 1.6 Elegance at Rs. 5.99 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) is a full Rs. 75,000 cheaper than the earlier Fabia 1.2 Elegance. This is due to increased localisation levels in the Fabia (up from 15 per cent to 40 per cent). You now get a lot more car for much lesser money.

The engines from the VW Vento saloon and Polo will power the revised Fabia. The 1.2-litre 75bhp petrol motor will be accompanied by the 1.6-litre petrol that VW recently launched. It develops 105bhp, a substantial 30bhp more than the 1.2 petrol and makes 15.6kgm of torque. It's fast and great fun to drive and you don't need to put in much effort to make it go quick. Zero to 100kph comes up in 12.1sec and it hits 160kph under 40sec. There is enough pull even at low engine speeds, it has a good mid-range and, once past 4000rpm, power delivery is strong till the engine redlines at 6000rpm. Gearing is identical to the Vento. The Fabia is just 20kg lighter than the Vento so there is not much difference in the performance figures. From the earlier Fabia, this new car is a big step up, but in its new avatar, it's not blisteringly quick. The Palio 1.6, the closest we got to a hot hatch did 0-100kph run in 11.1sec, but that was before BS IV emission norms came into play.

So why are we so excited about the new Fabia? It's because it is now an excellent package.

The chassis' limits can now be put to a test with all that extra power to play with. Well-weighted steering, it stays true to the line. All bumps and undulations are managed with poise, just like a German saloon. The Fabia is a good driver's car with strong brakes and quick gearshifts. It is fun to drive and is also a practical hatch.

The upright stance of the Fabia creates plenty of space on the inside to comfortably seat five adults and it also has a 300-litre boot. The incessantly poor state of roads is not much of an issue due to the mostly pliant, well-controlled ride.

Tank-like build gives you that added impetus to go quicker. Quality of the interiors as before is top-notch but Skoda has cut down on some equipment to keep costs low. Even this top-end Elegance (the 1.6 is available only in this trim) comes without powered mirrors, a rear-wash wipe and even a demister for the rear windscreen. Skoda has also removed a lot of the silver-finished bits around the dashboard but added a few chrome highlights.

There is one issue with the car — it just looks too similar to the outgoing model. The front styling has been modified with stretched headlights and grille and there's a new front bumper with bigger foglamps. These changes are too minor to get noticed. The rear is the same and even the ‘16V' badging of the old Fabia 1.4 petrol carries forward to the 1.6.

The wheels and tyres haven't received upgrades either. Skoda would have done well to give bigger wheels and wider tyres at least on the 1.6.

As for fuel efficiency, it offers good figures — 10kpl in the city and around 16kpl on the highway.

There are hardly any faults in the new Fabia. It now has the performance to compliment its brilliant chassis and at this much-lowered price, Skoda has got a winner on its hands.

The upright stance of the Fabia creates plenty of space on the inside to comfortably seat five adults and it also has a 300-litre boot