£9,945 - £17,555 Price range
45 - 83 MPG
It wasn’t even fifteen years ago that people were telling Skoda jokes. The Octavia made people sit up and take notice and then when the Fabia replaced the Felicia in 2002, the jokes stopped overnight.
Based on the Volkswagen Polo – or rather based on the Polo’s platform even before the Polo was launched – the Fabia launched Skoda as a serious mainstream brand. The Mk2 currently sold is a good little hatchback and is a capable all-rounder. But it’s seven years old now and a replacement is round the corner, so is it still worth considering?
Space is excellent for a car of this type with one of the biggest boots in its class at 315 litres. There’s also plenty of room for 4 people – five is a bit of a squeeze but no more than in any other rival – and the seats are reasonably comfortable.
The interior is well built but there are cheap plastics in some areas and the interior design is more functional than stylish. That said, there’s considerably more joie de vivre in the Fabia’s interior than there is in the Polo’s even if the range-topping vRS model’s insides are an exercise in black plastic. You can specify the worst of it away if you try.
Getting comfortable behind the wheel is not a problem thanks to an easily adjustable seat and the steering wheel can be altered for height and reach. It’s easy to drive around town since all of the controls are light, there’s good visibility and the ride is pretty compliant even over significant road warts.
The well-insulated cabin and comfortable seats mean that the little Skoda is a good motorway companion too aside from a tendency to be affected by crosswinds.
It’s not a car for getting any driving pleasure though. The soft suspension gives way to lots of body roll and the steering is a little dense around the centre, so you can end up taking quite a few guesses at fast, sweeping corners. The vRS makes things a little less of a lottery but it’s not the hot hatch you might hope for. Still, if maintaining momentum driving is your thing, it’s not a bad car to thread down a rat run.
There’s the usual selection of little Volkswagen Group engines here, consisting of a phalanx of 1.2-litre petrol engines in differing states of tune, a 1.6 litre diesel and the frugal ‘GreenLine’ badged 1.2 diesel.
The entry level units are a pair of three-cylinder petrols, offering 59hp and 68hp. It’s a pretty noisy unit though and doesn’t perform with anywhere near the economy or pace of the newer, four-cylinder TSI petrols. These latter engines pack 85hp or 104hp and will return fuel economy in the mid-50s and much healthier 0-60mph times of around 11 seconds.
The 1.6 diesel comes in three flavours too – 74hp, 88hp or 104hp – and fits into VED (road tax) band B for only a twenty quid annual bill (free in the first year of ownership). It’s rated at 67mpg in any application and the 104hp unit shares the performance crown with the identically-rated petrol.
With the regular range out of the way, there’s the two headliners. First is the 1.2-litre GreenLine II, with an 88g/km CO2 rating – for free road tax – and an 83.1mpg economy on paper, but don’t be surprised if you don’t get too close to that. The other is the hot, 178hp vRS that’ll hit 60mph in 7.3s and run past 135mph. 45mpg combined isn’t shabby either, though some users report quite heavy oil usage.
The cheapest 1.2 petrol comes with 60bhp meaning a 0-60mph time of 16.5 seconds. Economy is good though with up to 47.9mpg and a CO2 rating of 140g/km.
Reviewers don’t like the fact that this 1.2 Petrol sounds as gruff as an old diesel engine and the fact that it takes a long time to get up to speed on the motorway. They do like how comfortable and quiet it is once it’s up to speed however. This engine is only available in S trim which comes with the average level of equipment such as front electric windows and a CD player.
Only go for this engine if you can’t afford the higher powered petrols or diesels or if the standard Fabia is all you need.
This 1.2 petrol comes with 70bhp (10 more than the basic 1.2) which means a 0-60mph time of 14.9 seconds. The 1.2 12V has a claimed mpg of up to 51.4mpg but one tester only managed up to 35mpg after driving through various roads.
This engine is available in S, SE, Elegance and Monte Carlo trims with the SE providing the best value for money. Reviewers say you’re better off spending your money on the turbocharged 1.2 unit since it has better performance while retaining similar economy or if you want more economy then have a look at the diesels, especially the 1.6TDI which provides the best balance of performance and economy. This engine is only available with a 5 speed manual gearbox.
The Fabia Greenline II is essentially a Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion since they share the same 1.2 three-cylinder diesel unit, but at a lower price. It promises up to 83.1mpg but one tester handed the car over to a professional driver who managed to get 127.8mpg on an economy run between Austria and Denmark!
This engine is good on motorways but not so good everywhere else due to the very noisy unit. You also have to adapt an economical driving style if you want to achieve the claimed 83.1mpg figure. This engine is only available with a 5-speed manual gearbox but also comes with stop/start technology to help boost the mpg and reduce the CO2.
Apart from the hot Fabia vRS, the 1.2 TSI petrol is one of the most fun units you can get for the car. It’s available with two power outputs: 85bhp or 105bhp which both have a 0-60mph time of around 10 seconds.
Economy is good, with up to 53.3mpg and a CO2 rating of 124g/km. You can get this engine in SE, SE Plus, Elegance and Monte Carlo trims but SE is the best bet as it’s the cheapest yet still gets good equipment as standard. The 85bhp version is cheaper than the 105bhp version but both give similar performance so the cheaper unit will be better value to most.
You can get Volkswagen’s DSG automatic gearbox with this engine which the reviewers praise highly but a 5-speed gearbox comes as standard.
According to one of the sources, this version of the Fabia, on paper, promises to be the best when it comes to performance and economy. It produces up to 105bhp and goes from 0-60mph in 10.9 seconds yet it promises up to 67.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 109g/km. This engine is available in all but the cheapest S trim but other lowered powered 1.6TDI are available for a lower price and they have pretty much the same economy figures.
It’s a good engine but is slightly slower than the old 1.9 TDI you used to be available to get. This version of the Fabia comes with a 5-speed manual gearbox.
It’s perhaps in part due to the decade-plus underpinnings that the Fabia didn’t do so well in Euro NCAP’s tests, but four stars is a poor showing next to rivals. The Skoda was last tested in 2007 though, prior to its facelift but also before current testing practices that could stretch the car even further.
Under these old tests, the Fabia rated four stars for adult occupant safety, three stars for child occupant safety and two stars for pedestrian impact. For context this is about on a par with the Ford Ka, Mazda 2 and Kia Rio, all tested at about the same time. The relative lack of safety equipment – curtain airbags are optional until the Elegance trim – also means the Fabia is one to think twice about here.
There’s three things that the Fabia does really well. It’s economical, the servicing value and satisfaction, and the residual values are good. It won’t be a high cost car to run and you’ll see more money back at the end of ownership than most other small hatchbacks.
It’s not really cheap to buy however. It’s pitched at about the same price as Ford’s Fiesta – darling of the supermini sector – but you do get a reasonable amount of kit for your money. All cars come with remote central locking, front and side airbags, front electric windows and a CD player with an aux-in socket for your phone or music player. It’s also a cheaper way of getting Volkswagen level build quality.
It has a few years under its belt now, with a 2007 launch and a 2010 facelift. There’s a replacement coming too in 2015. Nevertheless, the Fabia is still a competitive option in this sector.
If you’re looking for a small, reliable car with loads of space, a reasonable price and no obvious flaws that need to be excused away, then the Skoda Fabia is a worthy option. As this model is soon to be replaced, you should be able to get some attractive discounts from carwow’s trusted Skoda dealers too.
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