2012 SKODA FABIA DSG HATCH REVIEW
Vehicle type: Light Hatch
Price: Hatch: $21,290 | Wagon: $23,290
Fuel efficiency (claimed): 5.3 l/100km
(Wagon launched this week, not available for test at the DSG media event)
Until now, Skoda’s Fabia light car range has lacked the crucial automatic option.
The 77TSI and Monte Carlo Hatch models available to date have soldiered on with only a five-speed manual transmission, itself one ratio short of its more cutting-edge competitors.
As a result, Australian 2012 Fabia sales came to just 257 units to the end of May. Compare this with the 1952 sales of the auto version of the Volkswagen Polo, the Fabia's kissing-cousin.
Salvation is here though, with Volkswagen’s familiar seven-speed DSG automatic now available for the Fabia at a premium of $2000-$2300 in 77TSI and Monte Carlo models respectively.
Also available for the first time is the Wagon bodystyle (in both 77TSI and RS versions), with its increased cargo capacity promising a greater dose of practicality.
In both DSG and five-speed manual form, the 77kW 1.2 litre turbocharged petrol four-cylinder engine continues unchanged.
The Fabia misses out however on the touchscreen multimedia interface that’s an option in the Polo.
Also revealed at the event (tested only in RS form) was the new Fabia Wagon.
The Wagon version’s key advantage is 180 litres (seats up) of additional rear storage, making for a total of 480 litres. The cargo floor is also 256mm longer, for a total of 959mm.
Rear legroom and headroom retains the same generous-for-category measurements as the Hatch model, but the taller and longer cargo area of the Wagon presents a spacious but more compact alternative to many small SUVs and crossovers.
There’s heaps of headroom front and rear thanks to a tall glasshouse, and outward visibility is better than a lot of light hatchbacks.
Cabin plastics and fabrics feel strong and durable, and build quality is excellent, although nothing about the Fabia’s utilitarian interior is particularly exciting.
On The Road
Tested here in Hatch form, the Fabia 77TSI DSG's 1.2 litre turbo mill punches much harder than its meagre capacity would suggest.
The turbo not only provides a useful 77kW, but effective tuning sees maximum torque of 175Nm delivered from 1500rpm, all the way to 4100rpm.
The five-speed manual is no bad thing, but the DSG does an excellent job of choosing just the right gear (of seven) whether cruising or overtaking. Superb driveability is the result.
The test route at the launch was based around the mostly flat sugarcane country in Southern Queensland, so we can’t decisively comment on the Fabia 77TSI DSG’s hill-climbing ability.
However, with more closely-spaced ratios, we would expect the DSG to tackle hills better than the manual-equipped Fabia, which can struggle up inclines with a load on board.
The DSG version of the Fabia 77TSI gets along very well for what it is, comfortably maintaining highway speeds - on the flat at least - and having little trouble overtaking quickly.
Suspension tuning is in line with other Skoda products and dealt with the pitted rural roads on test better than we expected for a hatch weighing under 1200kg.
It’s a good match for Aussie road conditions; ride quality is definitely one of the Skoda’s strong suits.
The Fabia 77TSI DSG also betters the five-speed manual Fabia by 0.2 l/100km.
The improved fuel economy is thanks to the transmission’s preference to stay in the highest gear possible, whereas the human factor is likely to mean less ideal gear selection in the manual.
First Drive Verdict
Adding the popular DSG transmission to the Fabia range is a good move by Skoda.
Together with the unique Wagon bodystyle option (and RS flagships), these models should generate some increased showroom interest and improved sales for the range. The wagon in particular is a unique offering in the light car segment that we think should prove appealing.
Unfortunately, the Fabia Hatch is priced identically with its Polo 77TSI Comfortline cousin. With the Skoda handicapped by a smaller dealer network and less brand cachet, the Fabia Hatch could still struggle to compete.
The wagon, on the other hand, may enjoy different fortunes.
Watch for a full review of the new Fabia models in the coming weeks.
Note: 77TSI Manual Hatch pictured.
- Fabia 77TSI 5-speed manual - $18,990
- Fabia 77TSI 7-speed DSG - $21,290
- Fabia 77TSI Wagon 5-speed manual - $20,990
- Fabia 77TSI Wagon 7-speed DSG - $23,290
- Fabia Monte Carlo 77TSI 5-speed manual - $21,990
- Fabia Monte Carlo 77TSI 7-speed DSG $24,290
- Fabia RS 132TSI 7-speed DSG - $27,990
- Fabia RS 132TSI Wagon 7-speed DSG - $29,990
Note: prices exclude on-road costs.
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