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hussein

My Fabia 1.2 TSI Elegance DSG Review

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hussein    10

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The Fabia II 5J is not exactly a design masterpiece on the outside. Mine has Rosso Brunello metallic paint and 16” Comet wheels, which does look quite smart. But really, it is the kind of car that if it was going to drive past, no-one is ever going to take a second glance. No neat design details, it’s quite plain and not exactly a cool car. Maybe this is exaggerated since I’m coming straight from my futuristic Honda Civic FK3, aka The Mothership. But there is no arguing that the Skoda is a boxy little thing, and it’s already been named The Dorkmobile in my house.

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But its not the outside that made me want to buy this car, its the inside. Elegance spec with its neat dials, small leather pack, Chess Beige interior and Ivory dash. It is light, airy, and feels spacious. The roomy feeling of light colours as well as acres of headroom and not really having to fight for elbow space with your passenger. The interior is lush, it really feels like a de luxe little car, a miniature Skoda Superb. The materials are all excellent quality, the fit and finish has a precision that really makes it feel like you are driving something expensive. Glance away from the soft leather steering wheel, shiny chrome trim, maxidot display and perfectly damped controls to take a look in the back of the car. Passengers back there have a decent amount of room, but your eye catches on the black window winders on the Ivory rear door cards and it raises one eyebrow on my face. Surprising that the top of the range car isn’t electric back there, and what is more surprising is that they didn’t use a winder that was the right colour, just to rub it in.

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The seats don’t really offer anything in terms of side support, but are comfortable enough for short drives. They do feel really very similar to the seats in my 2003 Fabia 6Y Comfort which I owned in 2005. No cause for complaint on short journeys but not sure how they fare on those epic long road trips yet since I’ve only done ~500 miles of town driving so far.

In general sensible people buy Skodas, and so this little car has to be practical. The boot is decent, it comes with the little plastic section which stops things sliding around back there, but there is nowhere convenient to put that plastic bit if you are not using it. The back seats are pretty decent, four adults can travel in good comfort so long as there are not more than two tall people. Hey, even three in the back is not really all that much of a squeeze if the one with the short straw is below average size and they are all good friends. Folding the seats is something I do often to get my bike and other assorted junk in the back and it’s not as easy as it could be. Well, all of the steps are easy but like the Mk1 Fabia you have to half fold the seat to remove the rear headrests and they are very stiff to remove. Of course the light interior of my car is not practical either, but I like it so I guess its my own fault, and being careful is a good trade-off. That and some Autoglym Interior Shampoo.

There were no nice details on the outside of the car, but inside there are a few. The little elastic in the door pockets to stop magazines and maps falling out when you open the doors, cupholders everywhere, twin gloveboxes are handy too. There are nice little cubbyholes to put stuff, open up the armrest for a convenient little place to stash things... and then notice that after a while the nice felt lining has covered your mints and coins with a fine layer of fuzz. Also, it is pretty interesting that some smart designer has thought they would put the 12V power socket right down by the base of the handbrake so that it can be used by all of the passengers. Nice one, except I do feel sorry for folk who want to plug in their TomTom and end up with a cable going right across the car.

I shouldn’t really have that problem though because I splashed out on a Columbus. I bought a 3T0 035 680 E, HW: H60, SW: 3984 with V8 Western Europe Maps 7690 and installed it myself. Onboard navigation is convenient, and I did like the idea of SD Card music playback quite a lot. Everything I really want to listen to fits on one Sandisk 32GB SDHC card and it does what it says on the tin, even if it does do it slowly. The problem is, we are simply spoilt by mobile phones and their multi-core 1GHz+ clocked processors, and their capacitive screens. Of course a 400MHz satnav with a resistive touchscreen is going to feel a bit laggy sometimes, although once it has settled down after a few minutes it is fast enough. The Radio performance is fine, the sound quality is as good as the original ‘Swing’ unit, which is quite decent - it is plenty loud and definitely sounds okay enough to not really want an upgrade (and I’ve had some pretty bangin’ sound systems in my time). The navigation voice is not as nice and natural as the Honda (Alpine) system, sounding a bit more like a female Stephen Hawking, but it does work well and its routing is fast and sensible. If you want to copy files to the internal hard disk in the Columbus, be prepared for some amazingly slow file transfer and that makes it a task for long journeys only. DVD playback works without fuss, although I do wonder what exactly the point is. I bought a 5K0 035 730F, HW: H09, SW: 2902 Bluetooth Kit (includes the loom and original paragon microphone) as well to go with it and I think it is the best feature of the whole ensemble. The Bluetooth audio quality is excellent, A2DP audio streaming works really well, and it is all very easy to use. Even the voice control is pretty great. It may be expensive, but it is a really great bit of kit.

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As nice as Columbus is, the worst aspect of it is that majority of the time it is not very usable on the move. The screen being so low and having to look and press at the screen for many functions just means that fiddling with it is for passengers and traffic light moments only. Its exaggerated a little by the standard left hand drive design of having the volume control on the left side of the unit as well, and it is a shame that there is no software option to swap the functions of the knobs. I’m on the lookout for a multifunction steering wheel, I think it would be pretty useful.

When it comes to the actual steering itself, it feels very much remote control. Pretty much as if there is an infrared link between the steering wheel and the front wheels, there really is about as much driving feel as Mario Kart on a Nintendo. The DSG gearbox removes you even further away from the actual driving. But while it is changing gears smoothly all by itself and you are hustling the car around in town you realise that the fun of driving has really been sucked out of this little supermini. The tyres slip on a spirited getaway which just doesn’t give confidence in the amount of mechanical grip available from the Bridgestones. The reactions seem numb when you change direction, the tall narrow body leaning on its soft suspension. Even that smooth shifting DSG gearbox weighs in against you sometimes, getting confused and introducing lag when you squeeze the right pedal. It likes to be in a very efficient high gear, but that is outside the power band and it means that very often you gently ask for a little bit more throttle and nothing happens. Shift the Lever into ‘S’ and the car uses a lot more revs, and it just feels like you are missing out on the low down torque available in the engine. There is a manual mode too where you can push forwards to change up and pull back to change down - nice idea, but really with seven gears to play with it is a lot of pushing and pulling.

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So, I'm sure you probably think the conclusion is that it is not fun to drive. Actually, its a different kind of fun, to enjoy driving this car you need to be in a relaxed mood. Sit back, feel the excellent ride quality, the lack of noise and enjoy the refinement. It is so easy to drive, it encourages you to relax and be very stress free, even in London traffic. Let the DSG do its thing as you whisper your way around town at a sensible pace and it all starts to make more sense.

1.2 TSI might not sound like much, and it is definitely not going to blast you down the road leaving flames in your path but it does do its job well. Press on and it will seamlessly step down a couple of gears, the little engine comes on song and the exhaust makes a lovely burble noise. It sounds lovely even if you are never really going to win any traffic light grand prix no matter how hard you may try. According to the spec sheet it does 60 in 11ish seconds and maxes out at around 105 in true normal small car fashion. For normal relaxed driving though, it works just fine. So far it is giving me an indicated 45mpg which is okay I suppose - although it is a reasonable figure I did honestly expect a bit more since the Honda 2.2 iCTDI diesel I had before was giving me about the same, and that had another 350kg on this car, and another 35bhp. Maybe it’ll be a bit better after I’ve had a bit more time with the car.

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The brakes are progressive and they feel strong, which is useful because at least at the beginning it takes a while to get used to the lack of engine braking available. You can lift off early when you see an obstruction up ahead, but then before you know it the gearbox is in 7th and you are cruising towards it quite quickly. Also, I normally lift off slightly as I progressively come to a stop to avoid the suspension bounce, in the Fabia you have to lift off only slightly else it will want to creep forward if you lift off the brake all the way making it quite difficult to drive ultra smoothly. The Fabia with DSG does not make a good limousine. These things are not bugs really, more like things that you just get used to and adapt your driving for.

So, is it any good? I bought it to be an easy car for my wife to drive, something nice and good quality. Also something cheap to run as well, servicing is quite okay, fuel seems to be okay and insurance is definitely cheap. Road tax is band D and £100. For all of those things it ticks the boxes, and I’m happy with my choice. It is not really all that much fun, but it is very practical and it definitely feels like money well spent. Turns out that I do drive it more than she does though, and although the Skoda does make me happy I do wonder whether I would be happier in a vRS.

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Rsrob    218

Very good review love the colour rosso brunello is sweet not a fun of the interior to light for me looks a very nice car

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Ad Lav    858

lol - all that moaning yet you test drove it surely??

Beggers belief that people moan about a car so much but still buy it!

Still, a good, honest review which one can only give after owning/driving it for some time and getting used to the car.

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hussein    10

Don't get me wrong, its nice! I do like it a lot. It does what it is supposed to do very well, the light steering and DSG get you around in comfort. Sit back and glide around with some Duffy on the radio, there is no little car that does it better.

I only complain when driving it harder, but really it is not for that. The Fabia is a great weekday car, maybe I should get something for myself for the weekend. A 106 Rallye, Clio Williams, S1 Elise...

A lot of my review should be taken with a pinch of salt considering this is my first automatic car too.

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Ad Lav    858

The vrs is my first semi auto (I have paddles to play with) and can't complain. It's so much better than a normal slush box auto :)

The paddles help when driving hard - took a while to get used to it though :)

Love that colour!

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Mike Wrightson    167

Good honest review :)

I find it is surprisingly good fun to drive, but probably because it suits the way I like to drive. I haven't been left hopelessly behind on any of the Brisky meets I've been to against the vRS's, until we get to a decent straight :D

I really love the car and would have another without a second thought.

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skoda1982    234

The Fabia is a great weekday car, maybe I should get something for myself for the weekend. A 106 Rallye, Clio Williams, S1 Elise...

or a FABIA VRS ?

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don_kiddik    14

Here's a pic of my Elegance Estate bought new in March 2011, it has the dark interior, still in love with the colour and find the drive and all about it just fantastic

post-62057-0-27949900-1336862735_thumb.jpg

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FabFabFabia    9

I just collected my new Fabia Elegance Hatch 1.2 TSI 105 DSG with the Amundsen+ and MDI interface as purchased add-ons, but songs playing on my connected iPod swap the stereo image over halfway through each song! Has anyone else noticed this annoying malfunction? Time to trek back to the dealers after just one day of ownership....

Oh - and there's no DAB Radio despite the Amundsen+ book saying there is! Is this right??

Edited by FabFabFabia

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horkin    161

Nice review to read but I do wonder, as others, why you would be so critical of some of the 'drawbacks' which would have been obvious to you on test drive. However, if and when I swap my dear little 1.2 HTP I reckon it would be for a Tsi DSG and your colour is my favourite of all that are available. Nothing you have said would put me off and to be honest compared to othe supermini sized cars the Fabia is amongst if not the best. Too many people compare the Fabia to cars in a different class or price bracket and of course it will never be a Golf, A3 A1, BMW 1 etc. No, its a great little package for the price IMHO and I never tire of driving mine. :thumbup:

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hussein    10

I thought I'd do a little update on here. The more I drive it, the more I like it!

Settled into the rhythm of the car now, so much more relaxed when driving it around, the shock of having less torque compared to my monster diesels in the past has gone and I understand it way more. After a few more miles it feels a little more gutsy too which is nice, and when sitting back and chilling out it really is zero effort to drive and I appreciate that hugely. I guess it was a matter of time before I just got used to having DSG as well. The changes are just buttery smooth and for normal driving it really is perfection - I've stopped hooning about like an idiot and the gearbox now makes perfect sense.

I appreciate the refinement a lot. I think it was a trip from North London to Manchester, around a bit and back with three mates which made me appreciate the little car a little more. Cruise Control On, Climate Control On, iPod Bluetooth Streaming On... it got us all the way there and back on one tank with a weekends worth of stuff in the boot, no hassles at all. It turns out the seats are better than the ones in the Fabia 6Y and even after many hours behind the wheel I was still feeling fresh. Not bad for a little car.

So, as much as I am now much more in tune with the driving, I still am not a big fan of the steering. Its not vague, which is a good start. But there is no feel, it is a bit over assisted for my liking but it could be possible that that could be fixed with some VCDS tweakery. It also naturally wants to turn tighter rather than centering after 3/4 of a turn which feels strange when on a tight roundabout, parking or making a u-turn. Can live with it.

All the gadgets I am used to now as well. Fiddling with the Columbus for anything other than a jab of a button is still a job for pulling over or stopping in traffic only. But I can answer the phone with the stalk, twiddle knobs by feel to keep my eyes on the road so that is progress.

The car has done nearly 10k now. The front tyres are quite scrubbed so time to switch with the rears I think. Brakes holding up pretty well still. Nothing really needs any attention as such, it is still all thumbs up. Mods so far are a set of 4000K Xenons which improve the headlights hugely and some Cree Q5 LED DRLs which look neat.

The car does look good when it is clean, I get compliments on it often. The cat next door likes it a lot as well leaving a trail of muddy footprints as it walks all over it.

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FabFabFabia    9

Can I ask any users of the Amundsen+ and MDI interface some questions please as I have some sound problems on my new Fabia Elegance...

MDI - the stereo imaging keeps swapping around randomly, and the very beginning of tracks played off my iPod Touch is cut off most times when I select it. Anyone else have these problems?

Amundsen+ The "Amundsen+" Manual that came with the car says I should have DAB Radio, Sound EQ Presets and Surround Sound but none of these are present (I'm in England). Have I been short-changed on this £642 add-on?

Overall, my main quibble is that the overall sound quality of any source material (Radio/MP3/CD) sounds harsh, slightly distorted and a little "granular" compared to the standard Swing system sound that I auditioned before I ordered this new car. Also the rear speakers sound dull as dishwater. I'd assumed that the extra money I paid for this sound system upgrade would give at least the same sound quality as the Swing but this is not the case at all.

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vxh26    320

Thanks for a most informative review Dude. If you still have the same car, you will have driven it for 18 months now - any chance of a long-term driver review?

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4matt    12

Nice write up. It has everything thats important to say about the car. Most importantly the lack of engine braking that is something you really have to get use to and are constantly telling your other half to be aware of, because they only use the car once in a blue moon and forget to use the brakes early enough. Better to just drive it your self save the heart attack.

 

I was looking for a car just like yours in the same colour combination. Wish I had the luxury of waiting for one now and didn't go for the Black interior. Mine also has sunroof, a mistake on my part too. The addition of sunroof cuts down head room and we never use it anyway, why would you with climate control? I jumped in and bought mine because I needed to change cars quickly and it was the right price and loaded with extras on top of the Elegance spec. and came up a grand less than the others the same age on offer at the time.

 

I have to say though I love the Fabia and it comes close to being my favourite car only being toped by my 1987 Volvo, Now that really was a comfortable practical car.

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FabFabFabia    9

I've had mine a year now. It's still a stress-free experience to drive and overall I'm very happy with it. The dealer activated the alarm chirps on lock and unlock, and, because the MDI kept changing the stereo image over, he replaced my Amundsen+ upgrade with the Kenwood DNX521DAB at no charge and I now have DAB Radio, DVD Player, and a bigger screen but l lost steering wheel control for the bluetooth phone function. I still hated the harsh tweeters so I got a local fitter to put Audison Voce's in and a small Alpine rear sub and now it's a whole lot better. I also asked a forum member to connect his laptop and, in the software, make the steering much lighter and change the country from UK to Australia so I could have the large MPH digital display. And I fitted bright white Cree LED daytime running lights to the front (2x5w each side). I was thinking of upgrading the headlights to xenon but because I have cornering fogs and headlights I don't know if it's possible to mess with these.

Edited by FabFabFabia

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philhoward    304

With a new car, you do tend to pick up on the little niggles, but then you suddenly realise other things - even though mine is a vRS, I drove over 300 miles in 5 hours and only stopped once because I fancied a coffee, not because I had to stop because of aches, or for a stretch.  For what is theoretically a small car, its capable of doing daft distances in a single leap.

 

Perfect?  Nope.  Just a good value "Ronseal" car IMHO - it does what it says on the tin.

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horkin    161

Had my DSG Elegance 6 months now and have to say I still love driving it.

 

Totally stress free and the easiest of drives this is my third Fabia ( a MK1 1.9 Tdi PD, a Mk 11 1.2 HTP 70 and this one) and while the DSG is the ultimate luxury IMO., I loved all three cars.

 

The 1.2 Tsi married to the 7 speed Dsg box is a joy to own.

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logiclee    480

The dry clutch 7 speed DSG does take some getting used to, you have to learn how to drive it smoothly at low speed. The 6 speed wet clutch is a little easier as it slips more at low speed

 

That's the only real drawback to DSG compared with a good conventional auto.

 

Cheers

Lee

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horkin    161

The dry clutch 7 speed DSG does take some getting used to, you have to learn how to drive it smoothly at low speed. The 6 speed wet clutch is a little easier as it slips more at low speed

 

That's the only real drawback to DSG compared with a good conventional auto.

 

Cheers

Lee

Hi Lee,

 

it's the best auto/tiptronic type box I've ever owned and by some distance. The only issue I had was purely my fault as I didn't realise how good the hill hold feature really was and over compensated by using the hand brake for a while until some kind soul on here pointed me in the right direction :blush: .

 

I heard all the stories about the 'death trap' at roundabouts but driven sensibly (normally) I have never encountered the slightest problem I also read they cannot be manoeuverd same as a TC box and in this regard I would conceive that 'creeping' does take some practice if it means you need to park up really close.

 

But it's  the seamless changes, the way it wafts the car along effortlessly and the lightening fast response through the shift that does it for me. Always bearing in mind I'm long past being a boy racer :giggle: .

 

Add to that the 7 speed is also a sealed for life unit with no expensive 40k oil changes which are a feature of the 6 speed and it just doesn't get any better.

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sharkrider    3,753

I teach to drive in my vRS, and have never EVER had an issue with any pupil with roundabouts, manouvers ect ect , awsome gearbox :)

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logiclee    480

Hi Lee,

But it's  the seamless changes, the way it wafts the car along effortlessly and the lightening fast response through the shift that does it for me. Always bearing in mind I'm long past being a boy racer :giggle: .

 

Add to that the 7 speed is also a sealed for life unit with no expensive 40k oil changes which are a feature of the 6 speed and it just doesn't get any better.

 

I have a 7 Speed dry clutch dsg, a 6 speed wet clutch dsg and an 8 Speed ZF conventional auto at the moment.

 

The 7 speed has the crispest upchanges but requires a certain amount of skill for low speed work especially reversing on an incline, the 6 speed wet clutch is not as efficient but is nearly as quick changing gear, it will slip and slur in 1st, 2nd and reverse so is less on/off at low speed. Both boxes can be caught out if you are rolling to a junction and then stab the accelerator, I never have an issue with this hesitation as I've now learnt how to drive around this characteristic.  The 6 Speed Wet Clutch service is £150 every 4 years or 40k miles, just had it done.

The ZF 8 speed box is awesome, it will act as a Torque converter auto at low speeds with all the smooth maneuverability associated with a conventional auto but will lockup from 1200rpm in 1st, release for the change into 2nd then lockup from 1200rpm in 2nd and remain locked, So from 1200rpm in 2nd you have direct drive in each gear the same as a manual or DSG, no slurring. Even fooled Chris Harris into thinking it was a DSG box.

 

All three boxes are miles ahead of the old school conventional 5 and 6 speed auto's from a few years. Out of the three the ZF is a clear winner, the two DSG boxes are very close, the wet clutch is better in traffic and for slow speed work, the dry clutch is crisper and more efficient. I think the dry clutch DSG suits the lightweight Fabia very well.

 

I haven't tried one of the new high torque DQ500 dry clutch boxes yet.

 

Cheers

Lee

Edited by logiclee
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      The LED headlights are amazeballs, with a good crisp cut-off to the light. The dynamic adjustment works brilliantly in the UK, but is disabled when in tourist mode. I also noted that the car switched the lights over to tourist mode automatically based on our location when getting off the ferry in Ijmuiden & back again on arrival in Newcastle. Automatic high beam is ok, I suppose. It’s a bit dopey for my liking & I got a few angry flashes when driving in the Black forest.
       
      And now the bad bits. I’ll start with the worst offenders – performance and the sat nav.
       
      The engine is a dopey lethargic heap teamed to a gearbox controlled by Baldrick. It’s a 2 litre, turbocharged, directly injected, latest generation petrol. It should have a great big wave of torque from 3000 up to about 4700rpm. It does, but you never get to exploit it, because some cretin in VW has determined that the only way you are allowed to attempt to make progress is to rev the nuts off it from 5000 to 6500rpm. As soon as you tread on the accelerator, even lightly, it downshifts, one, two or even three gears. This takes time, during which the engine has come off boost & there’s a frustrating delay in it just getting on with the job. This is true both for normal and sport gearbox modes.
       
      My Abarth 595 has pretty much identical specific outputs & in that, I can either downshift one cog or get past just as swiftly by riding the torque wave – tread on the gas, watch the boost gauge zip around to 1.8 and awAYYYY WE GOOOOOOOO! It almost feels like the kind of unrelenting acceleration you get from jet thrust. A constant shove in the back. None of this is present in the Kodiaq & that’s really disappointing.
       
      You can counter this by switching to manual & forcing it to play with the torque – which is most definitely there. It makes for much more effortless Axxx and B-road progress. They need to work on a gearbox map - make the non-sport one more torque biased and the sport one less dopey. I’ve seen them do this with revised maps on both the Ibiza Cupra and Fabia VRS boxes & is something I’ll investigate.
       
      The next big pain is the sat nav / infotainment system. Firstly, the European map it ships with is unforgivably out of date – 3 years out of date! I have no idea where they dug this fossil up from. Route planning is ok, though it has a habit of throwing you through the centre of a city, (like Milan!) rather than stick to a motorway around the edge.
       
      Apple CarPlay works well, but the lack of CarPlay over wireless is a big miss. Worse though is that if you use CarPlay, you lose all other online connected functionality – wireless sharing from your phone, online navigation searching & everything that Skoda Connect gives you. It’s a bit pants really.
       
      If you prepare a route online with some application like Tyre or Basecamp there is no way to import that into the Columbus. Worse though is that if you manually build up a route in the Skoda online system, you’re very restricted in the number of waypoints you can have per route. I think you’re also restricted to 6 routes in total. Having built a 2550mile route in MyrouteApp, & split the thing into 21 days’ worth of tracks, it was incredibly annoying to find that it was impossible to upload it in any usable fashion (I did try using VCF files, but this didn’t work as planned).
       
      There’s some other niggles to go into briefly:
       
      ·       The interior lights above the 3rd row of seats are easily switched on by luggage, if you pack to the rafters.
      ·       Options for luggage retention in the boot are not great. There’s two loops at the bottom rear of the boot, inside the oddments compartments.
      ·       The exhaust vents for the aircon are in a location where they are easily obstructed by luggage.
      ·       The aircon can’t really cope when outside temp = inside temp and there is high humidity. It seemed to get really confused & started heating the place up.
      ·       In the Yeti, disabling the alarm’s interior monitoring (say you want to leave it on a ferry car deck overnight) involved pressing one button on the b-pillar. In the Kodiaq, you have to go into a series of menus, find the setting, unflag it, hope that you’ve done it right, turn the car off & lock it. If you’ve left anything in the car, you have to power the car up, wait for the infotainment to boot up and then dig through the menus again. Whoever designed this actual feature needs a lecture in user experience.
      ·       The start/stop system seems intent on wrecking either the engine or the turbocharger’s bearings. I’ve regularly come off a motorway run & had the thing shut the engine down while waiting at the end of a slip road for traffic lights. I know it’s got an auxiliary coolant pump explicitly for the turbo, but I can’t help feeling it’s a bit over-zealous in its desire to shut it all down.
      ·       Aircon Air Care setting – I’ve no idea what parameters they used to develop this. I suspect it may have involved dream catchers and mind-altering substances.
      ·       VWFS completely screwed up the loan extension, firstly by not extending it as they said, then continuing to take payments, despite them agreeing the account was settled three months previously.
       
      Overall, we’re very pleased with the car. It has some great features. It also has some annoying ones, but these don’t manifest themselves in day-to-day use generally. Except the performance bit, which is a pain. I’m going to look into both an engine and gearbox remap. I reckon 230bhp would be perfect, along with a general re-education of the gearbox’s brain.
    • By Fabia1602
      Hi All,
                I recently brought a 2008 fabia 2 estate without a towbar, but have a towbar of a 2003 skoda fabia estate, just wondering if the towbar from the 2003 skoda will fit the 2008 fabia 2, any advice would be greatly appreciated.
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