The supermini class is one of the most fiercely contested segments. Not only are superminis more affordable than their bigger family hatchback siblings but, generally, they’re cheaper to run, easier to park, just as refined and, if we’re being honest, practical enough to perform everything we need to on a day-to-day basis.
The newly released Mazda 2 and Skoda’s third incarnation of the Fabia are not only considerably better than their predecessors, but they represent the best possible contenders to the supermini crown. Which is best then? Let’s find out.
The Mazda 2 doesn’t have as diverse a range of engines as the Skoda. The Mazda only comes with 1.5-litre petrol or diesel units where the Fabia ranges from 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrols to 1.4-litre diesels. They’re both equally matched when it comes to fuel efficiency but the Mazda has the better blend of economy and performance because, like-for-like, the Mazda is the quicker machine.
For example, the 89hp 1.2-litre TSI petrol in the Skoda achieves 60mpg and a 0-62mph time of 10.9 seconds, but the 89hp 1.5-litre SKYACTIV petrol in the Mazda achieves 63mpg whilst being able to sprint to 62mph from a standstill a second and a half faster.
On paper, this may seem like a clear win for the Mazda but, in reality, that’s not so – all its petrol engines are naturally aspirated where the ones in the Fabia are turbocharged. This means in real-world driving – where mid-range torque is essential – the Fabia feels like the quicker machine as the turbo punts you down the road. The Mazda doesn’t have a turbo meaning you have to thrash the engine to get the maximum performance because all the engine’s power is at the top of the rev range. There’s nothing between them when it comes to their diesel engines.
Styling and practicality
The Mazda is the one which divides opinion the most with its many curves and unusual angles. The Skoda is the more conservative looking with its serious looking front-end, straight-edged creases and a taller, boxier shape.
The Skoda is like a businessman’s suit to the Mazda’s attempt to be a supermodel. This means, in the flesh, the Skoda Fabia is the more classy looking vehicle while the Mazda 2 is the more striking to look at thanks to its ‘KODO Soul of Motion’ design language. They’re both great looking cars but they’ve gone about it in two different ways.
The Fabia’s boxier shape makes it the more practical of the two – it has a 330-litre boot with the seats in place and 1,150-litres with them folded down. The Mazda can only muster 280-litres and 960-litres respectfully. Plus, you can get an estate version of the Fabia which increases this even more. The boot opening is much larger on the Fabia, too, which means it’s easier to get large objects into and out of the car. It’s worth bearing in mind, they do both suffer from large load lips.
Both cars have wonderfully simplistic dashboards – long gone are the days when the more buttons a manufacturer fitted to a car, the better the perceived luxury. Neither can quite match the VW Polo when it comes to be having a plush feeling interior, but they’re both great quality items and you could easily spend many hours in either without any grumbles.
Like the exterior, the Mazda is the slightly more aesthetically pleasing on the inside with a large touchscreen that sits atop the dashboard, and some funky instrument binnacles that house a very large speedometer dominating your main focus of attention. There are also circular air vents which wouldn’t look out of place in the new Audi TT. The Fabia obtains a much more conventional styled interior.
Due to the boxy shape of the Fabia, it has the most interior space so adults will comfortably fit in the back. Even six-footers will have some headroom spare. The Mazda with its shallower roofline and smaller windows feels slightly more claustrophobic in the back – especially for six-footers – but it’s not what you’d call cramped back there. Space available for front occupants is great in both cars.
Both the Mazda and the Skoda are refined and comfortable machines – something superminis have struggled with in the past. You won’t get out of a long journey and feel tired, that’s for sure.
They both provide excellent grip levels which keeps you safe but also lets you have some fun if the need arises. They both have slick, precise gearboxes which work as smoothly when on the move as they does in town. Both are well damped, have excellent driving positions and they both have good levels of body control.
As a vehicle to get from A to B, all those qualities listed above are all that you ever need in a car, however between the two, the Mazda provides that bit more driver enjoyment. It’s not quite as good as the Ford Fiesta on pure driving dynamics, but against the Skoda, it has more communicative steering as well as a more driver-focused chassis which gives you a greater sense of what the car is actually doing. That’s not to say the Skoda Fabia is a bad car to drive – it most definitely isn’t – but, when really pushed, the Mazda shines slightly brighter.
Which one should I buy?
Both cars are excellent machines and you wouldn’t be disappointed in either. It’s an extremely hard decision to pick an outright winner – an impossible one really – so here’s some of the main aspects of each car which will help you come to the decision about which is best suited to you:
The Mazda costs from £11,995 and the Skoda costs £10,600. The versions you want, however, are the mid-level trims which work out at roughly the same price. Both cars come with excellent levels of equipment including air-conditioning, Bluetooth, cruise-control and smartphone connectivity. Sat nav is a very reasonable £275 in the Fabia and standard on all ‘Nav’ trims for the Mazda 2.
If the Mazda 2 or the Skoda Fabia have tickled your fancy, take a look at them in our car configurator to see how much you could save. See how the Fabia got on when compared to the Volkswagen Polo and how the Mazda 2 fared when we spent a week with it. For more options, have a look at our deals page to see our latest discounts.