The Skoda Fabia has been a popular mid-size car since it was launched in 1999. I have driven a few versions over the years, like the RS, Monte Carlo and the estate or Combi version.

We got a second generation in 2007, a third gen. in 2014 and last week I got to drive the five-door hatchback version of the fourth generation of the Fabia.

In the supermini segment, the Fabia is competing with other popular brands like the Ford Fiesta, Toyota Yaris and VW Polo. However, unlike those three cars I have mentioned there are no electrified engine options for the Fabia. Instead, it  now gets an all-petrol offering with a range of engines sizes from 1.0 and 1.5-litre with manual and automatic gearbox options. 

The five-door hatch is larger than its predecessor and delivers more interior space and a bigger boot space than before, 380 litres to be exact. The car now comes with LED lights, improved assistance systems and more technology.

It has two important items that a lot of its competitors don’t have, an old-fashioned style hand-brake and a full-size spare wheel. Irish drivers are always re-assured when there is a proper spare wheel in the boot if we are unlucky enough to get a puncture. Roads and tyres have improved, but you never know where you can pick up a rusty nail.

I drove a grey-coloured version with a black roof and it certainly was very eye-catching. The 17-inch black alloys also added to the classy look. Inside you now get the word Fabia written on both sides of the display above the steering wheel. At the back the word Skoda is spelled out on the boot.

Skoda has a reputation for having neat, simple items in their cars to help motorists. The plastic clip in the windscreen to hold a parking ticket has been around for a while, then we got an ice-scraper inside the fuel opening. Now we get another neat plastic clip; it’s located where you might normally put your mobile phone and it can be used to hold a ticket or some item you might need access to in a hurry and it won’t blow away.

The driver’s seat is very easy to adjust. In the back you can accommodate three people at a squeeze, two in comfort. And if you do have only two back seat passengers they can let down the drinks holder.

For mobile phones you can charge your phone by placing it flat down. There are four USB ‘C’ charging points. Most new cars are now switching to ‘C’ charge points. But then the most modern Apple i-phones do have ‘C’ chargers.

As usual with Fabia there are three trim levels: Active, Ambition and Style. Prices start at €19,250 for the Active version. I drove the 1.0 litre petrol version with 95 brake horse power. As usual the higher the spec the higher the price and I always say you don’t have to opt for all the extras. Road tax is €190.

In the UK, Skoda has revealed the latest Fabia hatchback in police trim, continuing a tradition for the model that stretches back to 1999.

In Ireland the Gardai use a variety of cars, mainly Hyundai, but since the Coronavirus Lockdown you could see a Garda in various brands. So be careful out there, you never know who is watching you.