SKODA is a brand that continues to over-deliver.
In terms of space and quirky owner-friendly innovation it is the flagship of the Volkswagen Group’s brands, despite not always boasting the highest profile in a stable shared with Audi, Cupra and Volkswagen.
From ice scrapers stowed in the filler cap, to umbrellas inside the front doors, the Czech brand offers that bit more to its owners.
In the case of the new Fabia, it sets out with the simple Skoda staple of offering more interior space than its rivals.
While styling updates ensure it still looks a little more conservative than a Toyota Yaris or Peugeot 208 – despite the option of contrasting roof colours – the interior space on offer is far superior.
Fairly upright dimensions coupled to a 4,108mm length, which sees the Fabia exceed four metres for the first time, deliver impressive head and leg room as the boot grows by 50 litres to a sizeable 380 litres – far exceeding the Ford Fiesta (290 litres) and Volkswagen Polo (280 litres).
Prices from £14,905 at launch also see it undercut most, with S, SE Comfort, SE L, Colour Edition and a sporty Monte Carlo versions making up the range.
There are three petrol engines, including a normally aspirated one-litre 80PS three cylinder, alongside turbocharged versions offering 95PS and 110PS power outputs.
Standard on all Fabias are LED headlights, automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane keeping assistance and a 6.5-inch colour screen infotainment system.
We tested the well-specced Fabia Colour Edition (from £17,495), which came in at £20,400 with the most powerful engine option and an automated seven-speed DSG gearbox.
However, that rose to £22,510 with the addition of 17-inch alloys and Comfort and Convenience packages which added perks such as: wireless phone charging; additional USB-C charging ports; and an adjustable boot floor.
As standard the Colour Edition features 16-inch black alloys, privacy glass and door mirrors painted in roof colour, along with a premium Bolero sound system coupled to an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment display, a 10-inch colour instrument display and that all-important umbrella in the door.
The cabin is more stylishly designed than Skoda Fabias past. The dashboard might miss the soft-touch squidginess of some in the class, but its tiered design looks the part, while sculpted door handles are tactile and smart-looking.
The undoubted highlight is a two-spoke multi-function steering wheel, though, which looks great with its gloss black spokes and chrome rotary controls.
Overall, the materials might not be up there with the likes of Peugeot, Toyota or the class-leading (but expensive) Mini cabin, but the design is smart, functionality good and space class-leading.
Out on the road, the Fabia served up a pliant ride familiar to the brand. In this trim, at least, this is not a car to rival the Fiesta or Mini for dynamic prowess.
It continued its large car feel with impressive refinement, however, and good levels of comfort and composure.
The 110PS turbocharged petrol engine is perky and non-too-intrusive.
That DSG gearbox did what DSG gearboxes do and felt a little indecisive at manoeuvring speeds, but was rapid-shifting once on-the-move.
Skoda claims the Fabia will reach 62mph in a none-too-quick 9.9 seconds on the way to a 127mph top speed as tested, with fuel economy of 47.9 to 50.4mpg and CO2 emissions of 128 to 136g/km possible.
Even as the hatchback market continues to shrink and falter in a market dominated by compact crossovers, the Skoda’s new Fabia delivers a class-leading range of usability.
Cheaper than many, it offers better interior space and a level of comfort and refinement that ensure it could be used as a family car – a role most rivals struggle with.
It might not be the most youthful or dynamic choice out there, but it is perhaps the most cost-effective car in its class as a result.