We love the Skoda Fabia here at DriveLife, and in fact, the model won our $20K Challenge way back in 2015. With a huge 160Nm of torque in such a small car, a 6-speed manual, great build quality and huge amounts of fun, I wanted to go out and buy one. My wife on the other hand said, “no, we don’t need yet another car”. She was probably right, but that was the impact of the $20,000 Fabia on me at the time.

Fast forward 7 years, and here we are at the launch of the 2022 Skoda Fabia. With the demise of the VW Polo, is there still a place for a small 5-door euro hatchback in our market?

Skoda New Zealand – Supply & Back Orders

“It’s tough to get production, especially out of Europe,” says Rodney Gillard, General Manager of Skoda New Zealand. Not just actual cars, but still lingering out there is the issue of semi-conductor supply. “It always was a challenge we never saw.”

However, according to Rodney, Skoda NZ has an excellent relationship directly with the factory, and they “live supply daily and weekly”. He goes on to say that the Czech Republic is very much like New Zealand: a bit of an underdog that punches above its weight.

He claims that while there are brands throwing out figures like months or a year for delivery, with the ordering system that Skoda NZ has, they can see directly to the factory. “Our customers know when their car is being built,” he says.

Another spanner in the car supply works is the war in Ukraine. A high majority of wiring looms are made in Ukraine and so this affects the total overall volume. To counteract this, Skoda has been retooling their own factories and is gearing up quickly to bring the production of parts like this back into the factory. In saying that, the commitment from the factory is that once The Ukraine war is over, wiring loom production will go back there to support their economy. That’s a big commitment, as there are 10-15 locations in Ukraine making automotive components for them.

Skoda in New Zealand has been doing very well indeed. 2021 was the biggest year for Skoda NZ, even with the supply issues – and this record is excluding police sales. Rodney goes on to say that Skoda NZ won third place in International Skoda Auto Sales Award, beaten only by the UK and Europe. This was a first for Skoda NZ. “It was an amazing award for us to win – seeing who we up against.” Skoda NZ is forecast to do 25% better this year than last year and seems to be on track with April 2022 sales the highest ever for the company.

A few random news items were passed on; the facelifted Karoq coming soon, with the NZ Police looking at this vehicle for their fleet as well. There will be an announcement coming weeks regarding the Enyaq, Skoda’s first full EV. There are 7 in the country at the moment, mostly as grey imports.

We also got an update on the NZ Police contract. The first year of supply is over; the contract was won in November 2020, but the first delivery wasn’t until June 2021. To date, 500 front-line vehicles have been delivered, over Skoda NZ’s forecast of 300-400. In total, 548 cars have been delivered. There are 2,250 total front-line police vehicles.

Skoda Superb Wagons are going to be used as dog units, the first one being produced now. The Police are already using the plugin Superb, with some of these being used as front-line vehicles. The cars look much the same, with the only distinguishing features being a green wrap on the sill and a small green sticker across the back of the car.

2022 Skoda Fabia: Details

Today marked the launch of the fourth generation Fabia. The first car was launched in 1991, and over 1.8m units were sold. In 2007 the second-gen came along and also sold 1.8m units. 2014 saw the third-gen launched, with 1.05m sales.

Based on the modular MQB-A0 platform, the new model is longer by 120mm, 48mm wider, and 8mm lower – although headspace has improved. The Fabia is the last model of Skoda to move to the new platform. The extra space has improved boot space by a decent 50 litres, now at 380 litres. Compared to 400 litres in the Kamiq SUV, that’s a great result. With the seats down, boot space is listed at 1,190 litres, and Skoda NZ claims this is currently the biggest in this segment.

For the first time in a Fabia, the boot has a removable floor, so it’s a dual-level unit, handy for transporting those taller items.

A nice touch in the design of this new model is the triangle design on the front doors; it’s a nod to the Czech flag, which has a triangle on it.

There are active cooling shutters and air curtains at the front along with a covered underbody and wheels with removable aero-trims delivering a very good drag coefficient of 0.28.

Design-wise, at the rear, the taillights flow across into the hatchback to modernise it a little. A gloss-black roof is standard across all colours in the range, along with black power-folding mirrors. Wheel size is 17” alloy as standard, with 18” alloys as an additional option.

LED headlights are standard, and in fact, all lighting at the front is LED except for the fog lights. Automatic high beams are standard too, along with adaptive cruise control and automatic wipers. Also standard is wireless phone charging, keyless entry and start, and an 8” central touchscreen. A 9.2” Amundsen screen is available as an upgrade (price TBA). The screen itself is “free-standing”, so it’s not integrated in any way at all.

The standard features list is pretty comprehensive, and also includes a 3-stage heated steering wheel, dual-zone AC, ambient lighting, third-generation infotainment,

On the inside, there’s a protruding area out from the dashboard with FABIA on each side of it, and honestly, it’s not overdone or tacky at all. There’s just one interior colour (all black), and since the only model going on sale is the top-spec Monte Carlo, you get sports seats with fixed headrests. Being the sort-of sporty model, there is red trim splattered around the dashboard and cabin. This can’t be changed for any other colour, but it’s not too over the top to be a deal-breaker, and actually looks pretty good.

For those old-school buyers, the handbrake is a manual one.

For the 2022 model, there are two new colours: Graphite Grey, and Phoenix Orange. Both were on display, and the Phoenix Orange one is certainly the one to go for. It’s stunning. There are 5 other colours; silver, white, black, red, and blue.

2022 Skoda Fabia: Engine And Transmission

There is a new engine in this new Fabia, a 1.5-litre 4-cylinder TSi petrol motor that outputs 110kW of power and a huge (for the size of the car) 250Nm of torque. At 110kW, power is well up from the previous 85kW. This powertrain will get the car to 100km/h in 8.0 seconds.

The transmission is a normal 7-speed DSG, so a dual-clutch automatic. Combined fuel economy is listed at 5.4L/100Km, and with its low CO2 emissions, the 2022 Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo is eligible for a rebate under the Clean Car Programme.

2022 Skoda Fabia: Simply Clever

It wouldn’t be a Skoda without some Simply Clever features. The small Fabia seems to pack most of them in, like an umbrella in the driver’s door, an ice scraper on the fuel filler cap, mobile phone pockets on the back of the front seats, a net system for the boot, a double-sided boot cover, a large pocket under parcel tray cover, tether hooks in the boot, and a door-panel waste bin.

2022 Skoda Fabia: Models

For the launch, there’s just one model, the top-spec Monte Carlo. This car is priced at $39,990 (not including the Clean Car Programme rebate). Later we’ll see other models introduced, possibly including a mild hybrid.

2022 Skoda Fabia: Drive

For the first leg of our drive to Whenuapai, I’d be driving. The first impression on getting in the car is the all-black interior. It feels close inside the car, so I think I’d be opting for the panoramic sunroof option if it were my car.

On the move, the 2022 Skoda Fabia is excellent. The punch of the engine with 250Nm of torque reveals itself instantly. This car can get away from the lights very quickly and with no drama. It actually feels like it would get to 100Km/h in less than the 8 seconds suggested.

Around town and even when we got to the motorway, at times there was a “running in 2-cylinder mode” message on the dash. The Fabia will run on fewer cylinders if it possibly can, to save gas, a great feature.

The engine noise is very nice too; it has a great tone to it. The new Fabia has got that tuned-euro motor noise to it, and I like it.

On the inside, those newly designed grab handles are a feature, and they work really well for getting out of the car. The red trim about the cabin is fairly in-your-face, but after a while, it fades into the background, and you don’t notice it.

Driving the car from the central city to Whenuapai showed just how well this car sits on the road. It’s planted, and there is little road or tyre noise coming into the cabin. The overall drive is smooth and refined, and the driving dynamics of this car are a highlight.

After lunch, I took to the backseat to check it out. There’s plenty of room back there, and the sculptured back seat holds you in nicely. I could imagine that a Wellington-Auckland trip would be quite bearable in the back seat. Rear seat passengers get two air vents, and also two USB-C ports for charging devices.

The short verdict of the 2022 Skoda Fabia is positive. Yes, it’s up there in price over the old model  – $10k more in fact. But you get more car, more space, more features, more safety and in our short drive, the driving experience is excellent.

We look forward to carrying out our normal full review on the 2022 Skoda Fabia.

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How on earth to start this? I've been car/bike/truck crazy since I was a teen. Like John, I had the obligatory Countach poster on the wall. I guess I'm more officially into classic and muscle cars than anything else - I currently have a '65 Sunbeam Tiger that left the factory the same day as I left the hospital as a newborn with my mother. How could I not buy that car? In 2016 my wife and I drove across the USA in a brand-new Dodge Challenger, and then shipped it home. You can read more on www.usa2nz.co.nz. We did this again in 2019 in a 1990 Chev Corvette - you can read about that trip on DriveLife. I'm also an Observer for the Institute of Advanced Motorists - trying to do my bit to make our roads safer.

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