Saying goodbye can be a hard thing. Be it to your brother who lives in Spain leaving again after Christmas, that beard you’ve finally given up on after three weeks of telling yourself it’s growing or the last half of a Domino’s Ranch BBQ pizza left in the fridge that you really should have thrown away yesterday.
Now, in my possibly enviable position of having a new car in on test pretty much every week (humble brag, sorry), it’s not something that tends to apply with me for a car. The normal procedure is a car arrives, it gets driven for a week or a few months, and goes back without so much as a second thought.
Things were a little different this time around, though. With a large chunk of my last six months spent behind the wheel of ‘our’ Skoda Fabia, the day had come to for it the keys to be handed over.
So I may not have gone as far as to hold on to them like say, a 13-year-old boy might his Xbox controller had he been on the cusp of a Fortnite ‘Victory Royale’ just as the moment mum comes up to tell him to get downstairs for tea, but passing the car to the collection driver did make me feel a bit sad inside.
From the perspective of a level-headed professional, the Fabia certainly isn’t the best in its class — particularly considering the £20k spec KY68 WXB was sporting. It’s not as engaging to drive as a Fiesta, as comfortable and refined as the latest Volkswagen Polo or as stylish as a new Renault Clio. But from a personal level, it ticked all of the boxes for me.
Finished in that grey/black bi-tone colour, complete with Monte Carlo trimmings, it looked pretty impressive. Perhaps even more crucially, I picked a girl up for a date once in the car, and she described it as “dead cool”. Being in my early 20s and spending most evenings alone cooped up with a Pot Noodle and FIFA, I appreciated this moment more than most.
I also live in Portsmouth — a city notorious for jammed traffic, impossible parking and Deliveroo riders flying about left, right and centre. A car with a reasonably-weighted clutch, direct steering and excellent visibility is something I crave. The Fabia provided those to a T — particularly on the visibility front, which for me is better as a result of it being on an older platform compared with its VW Polo and Seat Ibiza stablemates which sit on the newer VW MQB A0 platform.
It wasn’t without its faults. I’ll come back to that price tag — £20,065 to be precise. I don’t think any customer at a Skoda dealership would ever have to pay that admittedly after a bit of haggling and some good finance deals, but for a car missing cruise control, a decent infotainment screen and powered by a weedy little 94bhp engine, it’s just too much to ask.
The Fabia works best as a lower-spec, more affordable car. Monte Carlo trim is appealing, but at its price, there are better deals to be had on a new Ford Fiesta ST-Line — and there’s no contest there really.
Ultimately though, our time with the Skoda Fabia had proven joyous, and at the expensive heart of KY68 WXB lies a practical, frugal and recommendable car. Just don’t go crazy on the options if you’re in the market.
Highlight of the month: Saying a fond farewell to KY68 WXB
Model: Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo
Engine: 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol
Power (bhp): 94
Torque (Nm): 160
Top speed (mph): 114
0-60mph: 10.6 seconds
MPG (Combined): 61.4
Emissions (g/km): 106