I guess the first thing most people asked me do when I wrote an introduction was to write a review about my Fabia. Looks like no one is interested in a review of the Pulsar 180 UG IV!!
I think I will have to break up the review into two parts … the first will be pure car – I don’t think I plan to say much wrong about it. The second will be about the Skoda part of it – some unparliamentarily language may escape me!!
The love affair I guess started in the previous edition of the Auto Expo in 2008, where the Fabia was displayed … there was this gorgeous car in red with a white roof that stopped me in my tracks, an activity which was previously mostly limited to the hostesses!! Got the details, prices and all, and barely managed to keep my drool off the vehicle.
Shortly after that, I shifted jobs, and my “car of choice” as indicated to the new employer was the Fabia … top end, 1.4 Lit Petrol, with the works … Sun Roof, Projector Lamps and all. It cost, with an MH registration and with the corporate registration pretty much close to 8 lacs, and I think there were quite a few people in the company who were sure that the new employee was bonkers for having gone for a hatch when many a good sedan was available at that price!!
Had to wait nearly 2 months for the car to be delivered, and my one gripe at that point of time was that the Red colour that I chose was not available with the black trim which I wanted … Red only came with the beige interiors. Am not a fan of seat covers, but the grime that does show on the light seat fabric comes off easily during the regular shampoo sessions that I lavished on the vehicle.
Since the purchase and delivery was handled by the company, I did not have any experience of the showroom or the delivery time and procedures or whatever … in fact the vehicle was delivered to the office, and I remember then that there was a decent amount of petrol in the tank … Pleasant surprise no. 1. Pleasant surprise numbers 2 and 3 was the fact that there was no prescribed run-in period, I could thrash the vehicle from day 1 … and the first service was due in only 10K km.
Proximity to the Mumbai Pune expressway and a lot of other ghat sections saw a lot of early morning high speed runs … It never gave an impression of excessive power, but always was there to play, if you were willing to play with the gears. It really comes into its own in the twisting mountain roads, when the prodigious grip and the low squat stance gives the vehicle a road holding that I had not experienced before. And with dual airbags, ABS
and what not, you could be tempted to explore the limits.
The interiors are phenomenal … height adjustable seats, I agree you see a lot of those … but on both sides on a hatch? Lovely electric sun roof, cool controls and a deep deep instrument panel … wish it had auto aircon though. The indicator stalks on the wrong side (for us Indians!!) takes a bit of time to get used to, and the fiddly controls for the trip comp. will need that you actually read the owners manual!!
Mileage … Log book says 14.1 km after 26K of driving … it has been pretty constant … A/C on most of the time … and I would assume about 50% of those km are long trips … which predominantly see me trying to break the sound barrier!! Have managed an indicated top speed of 185 kmph on the eway, but since the spec sheet says that the top speed is 180, I am assuming either speedo error, or maybe a small downhill slope. To get decent slingshot overtaking, you need to work the gearbox a bit, the peak torque comes a bit high at 3800 rpm, but once you get into the groove, it is really great. That, coupled with amazing grip means you can enter into curves at a speed higher than, and exit faster than most other cars do.
One problem which I faced was getting a replacement for a tire that I managed to crack the sidewall of, that was achieved by going over a big sharp stone in the middle of the road just when I was overtaking a bus. 185/60 R14s are not very common, and I had to visit more than a few tire shops before I got a JK replacement … the originals are some European brand called Matador. Set me back a fair bit more than the typical tires too!!
The sound system that came as OE fitment is amazingly good. I had to fit rear speakers, but the pre-fitted front speakers are real good. The system display doubles us as a reversing display when you are backing up, so it provides a great (and pretty accurate) visual estimate of the distance you can go before you scratch your bumper.
OK …. Now for the gripes with the car … just one come to mind – It has a pretty low ground clearance … 146 mm, which means that you have to be very careful with speed breakers, there are those scattered all over the place!!
The service and the spare parts part of the story is a bit more morbid. I had actually to go back to the dealership twice past my initial visit to get them to rectify a niggling sound from the Instrument Panel … in an otherwise extremely quiet car, this was an irritant … finally had to get the blower replaced to rectify that. The spare-part for the same had to be ordered from the factory, and that meant a two week delay. In the process of replacing that, they managed to disconnect the blower direction selector, and I had to troop back to the dealership again to get that done right.
Free services are not really free … the oil change puts you back 4.5K, and I always get my wheels balanced at an external agency, where I can see the job being done, otherwise that is another thou. I had replaced my wiper blades, that 1500 that I kissed goodbye to, and I sorely missed the Maruti spares prices then.
But all in all, it is a car I have fallen in love with, again and again. And when I am on a hill road, listening to ‘Life is a Highway”, I am kind of willing to wait a bit for my BMW M5!!
Hope I have piqued your interest with this … any questions, please shoot, will answer them the best I can!!