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Drive

The Skoda Fabia

"I was actually really enjoying driving it as much as I enjoyed eating my delicious Chicken Pie"


At a personal level, I’m running between ‘Only Child Syndrome’ and the usual male mid-life crisis, but this Skoda Fabia is proving quite convincing as an alternative to the female seducing exotic Italian Sports car I have been contemplating to compensate for losing my hair

I simply couldn’t believe this. I booked a table at the trendy LP restaurant in New Cross, South East London the other night. Although they have ‘on the night’ recipe options, they like to ring up guests ahead and find out if they have any particular meal preferences. So after speaking with my mates we all settled on a chicken dish of the Chef’s choice. When we arrived, promptly displayed on the blackboard was ‘Kevin’s Chicken Pie’. What!!!

Word soon spread that ‘Kevin is here’ and several seated guests were eager to find out the ingredients of my special chicken pie before making their order. Rather embarrassingly; whilst I could legitimately claim to be ‘Kevin’, I certainly couldn’t claim to have anything to do with devising Kevin’s Chicken Pie, embarrassingly referring them on to the Chef, who kindly devised and cooked this special Kevin’s Chicken Pie just for me! How’s that for personalised service! What’s more it was preceded by some delicious starters and appetisers, a desert and drinks for an exceptionally reasonable price.


 

These fond reflections came to mind as I sat behind the wheel of the new Skoda Fabia, not only because I was actually really enjoying driving it as much as I enjoyed eating my delicious Chicken Pie, but equally so because it’s a car that’s really good value for the money and like Kevins Chicken Pie, I could personalise it too! Skoda’s new Colour Concept System allows owners to choose from 15 different body colours and three colour options for the wheels, roof, and exterior mirrors, meaning that it is unlikely that any two new Fabias will look the same – ‘Kevin’s Skoda Fabia’, naff as it sounds is a possibility too.

Time to put the brakes on a little and not let my ego run away with me – right now, at a personal level, I’m running between ‘Only Child Syndrome’ and the usual male mid-life crisis, but this Skoda Fabia is proving  quite convincing as an alternative to the female seducing exotic Italian Sports car I have been contemplating to compensate for losing my hair.

Most Fabias are bought by private retail customers, so this 1.0 litre 3 cylinder petrol engine 75 PS, manual five speeder, is likely to be the best retail seller in the range. With engines achieving 17%  better fuel economy over the previous generation car, it is exceptionally economical, achieving an average of 58.9 mpg and carbon dioxide emissions of only 108 g/km. Other engine options are 1.0 litre 3 cyl 60PS,  a 1.2 litre  at 90 or 110 PS and 1.4 litre diesel with 90 and 110 PS power options.

 A combination of compact dimensions,  responsive yet safe ‘chuckable’ handling, and an engine that delivers a surprising amount of poke for its size, brings the fun factor back into driving again at real world speeds. These days, when you can get a speeding ticket just for running too fast in your new trainers, a car that makes driving fun at legal speeds is a licence saver.

Practical

And then of course there is the issue of practicality. A few clever features, like an optional rubbish bin in the door are fine ways of proving to little Tom and Jerry, or Jack and Jill that Mummy and Daddy’s car really isn’t just a big dustbin with four doors. Add to that those inevitable mornings when we leave the house in a desperate hurry, and find the windows are caked with frost and you’ve forgotten to buy that bloody ice scraper again: no worries, for one is tucked neatly in the fuel filler cap of your new Skoda Fabia.

Still on the practicality front; while the new Fabia is 8mm shorter than its predecessor, the interior feels and is larger and more comfortable than the outgoing model. The interior length has increased by 8 mm, there’s more elbow room front and rear, and the boot is the largest in its class. A lower sill height makes loading much easier, so no longer will Tom and Jerry have an excuse (aka ‘We can’t reach it Daddy’) for not helping you to load the supermarket shopping into the back of the car. Why not be sneakier still, and let them load the whole lot! Opt for the Panoramic roof and they can pretend they’re in a spaceship while you’re driving too.

Reassuringly safe

Terrors as they are, you’ll want to keep T & J safe, so it’s a bonus that the new Fabia has achieved a top  5 Star NCAP safety rating. Standard from SE specification is the ‘City Integrated Emergency Braking’ function, bringing the vehicle to a complete stop to prevent you from having a head on collision at that very second your mobile phone rang and distracted your attention. And get this, you can even opt for a Driver Fatigue sensor that senses when you’re dropping asleep and says hey! Wake up! It’s time for a break.  Seriously though, something like this could well save a life.

On the technology  front, no car these days gets away without being a mobile computer on wheels. Smartphone connection via Bluetooth and USB are both standard on all models and via a new Mirrorlink system (standard from SE) that allows owners of selected Android handsets to integrate and interact with functions and apps via the Fabia’s touchscreen display. I am too old to understand it, and if you are too, just ask your five year old and she/he will show you how it works in 10 seconds flat. The new optional Smartgate function takes the Apps options to another level, so have a good sit down with your dealer to get the ins and outs of that one.

And if you need one last bit of reassurance, the new Fabia has just been awarded the prestigious  What Car? Car of the Year Award 2015. It’s clever, well thought through, a hoot to drive, well built, economical, and good value…….I really don’t need to go on do I?

- Kevin Haggarthy

Skoda Fabia 1.0 litre MPI 75PS

0-62 mph: 14.7 seconds. Max Speed: 107 mph. Average mpg: 58.9. CO2: 108 g/km. Engine: 3 cyl, petrol. Insurance group: 3E. VED Band: B.

 

Kevin’s Chicken Pie Recipe

Ingredients

Butter

1 large onion, finely diced

2-4 cloves garlic, crushed

1-2 leeks, sliced

2 carrots, diced

Fresh thyme

Cream

Bay leaves freshly grated nutmeg

Baby spinach

Fresh tarragon

Chicken breast, diced

Flour to dust

White wine

Shortcrust pastry, cut into circles roughly 15-20cm diameter, 2mm thick

 

Filling

Gently fry the onion, garlic, leeks & carrots in a generous amount of butter with the thyme and some salt, until soft.

Add cream, freshly grated nutmeg, a few bay leaves and simmer for 10 mins or so.

Meanwhile, dust the diced chicken in some flour, season with salt & pepper, and fry until browned, add a few glugs of white wine.  Add the chicken and wine to the cream sauce and simmer until the chicken is cooked through.

Take off the heat and stir in a handful of baby spinach and freshly chopped tarragon.  Check for seasoning.

Let the mixture cool and chill fully before using to assemble the pies.

 

Pies

Take one pastry circle and brush around the edge with egg-wash.  Spoon some chicken mix into the middle, leaving 2-3cm gap around the edge.  Make sure you have 2-3 pieces of chicken and not too much creamy sauce.  Gather the outside edges of the pastry into the middle to form a parcel.  Brush the whole thing with egg-wash, sprinkle a few pieces of thyme and chill.

When all pies are assembled, bake in a hot oven (around 180) until the pastry starts to brown (15-20mins).  You may need to flip over for the last 5 mins to ensure the pastry at the bottom of the pie is fully cooked.