Skoda Fabia

Very capable, safe and well-made supermini

 

£10,600 - £18,275 Price range

 

5 Seats

 

58 - 78 MPG

8.3
wowscore
This is the average score given by leading car publications from 12 reviews
  • Spacious cabin
  • Well equipped
  • Decent ride
  • Underpowered 1.0 petrol
  • Styling won't set world alight
  • Not thrilling to drive

The Skoda Fabia is a supermini that is praised on its decent value and solid build quality. The closest rivals of the Fabia are its sister car the Volkswagen Polo, the fun to drive Ford Fiesta and the stylish Seat Ibiza.

Prices start from £10,600 and if you buy your new Fabia using carwow you can save £1,740 on average.

The Fabia’s interior might not be the most exciting place, but it is well built and robust. Passenger space is capacious and the boot, for a supermini, is quite big.

Testers describe the way the Fabia drives as safe and predictable, but lacking excitement or flair. The suspension is set-up for comfort and that translates to a very good ride on the motorway, however it also increases body roll.

There is a broad choice of engines for the Fabia and each has it’s own merits, except the base 1.0-litre that is described by critics as “gutless”.

Value for money is the Fabia’s strong point because it undercuts most of its rivals on price and also has a generous standard equipment including Bluetooth phone connectivity and digital radio.

With 330 litres of boot space, the fabia has one of the biggest boots in its class

Have a look at our colour and dimensions guides to see if the Fabia will fit in your life. 

Cheapest to buy: 1.0-litre S petrol

Cheapest to run: 1.4-litre SE L diesel

Fastest model: 1.2-litre SE L petrol

Most popular: 1.2-litre SE petrol

The Fabia’s connection to VW is clear when you get behind the wheel. There you’ll find plenty of high-quality plastics that feel expensive and should be robust, although there are some hard plastics to be found too.

While secondary controls are hidden in the car’s touchscreen display’s menus, items such as the stereo and ventilation system get conventional, clearly marked, buttons and knobs.

One complaint we could level at the Fabia’s interior is that it’s a little boring, lacking the flair you’ll find in retro-styled hatchbacks such as the Mini or even the more conventional Ford Fiesta.

Skoda Fabia passenger space

Although its smaller than the model it replaces, the new Skoda Fabia has a longer wheelbase (the space between the front and rear wheels), which means it is actually more spacious inside. In fact, it is one of the few models in its class that offers enough space for four six footers.

Skoda Fabia boot space

The 330-litre boot is also one of the biggest in class, too, and that extends to 1,150 litres with the rear seats folded away.

Another boost is Skoda’s range of simply clever features, which are supposed to make the firm’s car easier to live with everyday. They include things like extra pockets on the sides of the front seats, load bay partitions and an ice scrapper hidden under the car’s fuel cap.

The Fabia receives plenty of praise from testers for its cosseting ride and secure handling, both of which are helped by the average 65kg weight saving compared to the outgoing model. Overall, reviewers consider the Fabia to be “impressively fluid, comfortable and refined”, while a lack of wind noise makes for a capable motorway car too.

As with the interior, its a little down on character. Although accurate enough, the steering lacks feel according to several critics, and for some, the soft suspension causes a little too much body roll when cornering. One tester suggests that the soft ride can even feel a little ‘bouncy’ in some models. Overall, it’s not going to trouble the Fiesta on driver engagement, but in most regards the driving experience is accomplished nonetheless.

There is the usual crop of Volkswagen Group engines available here, with a selection of petrol and diesel units. A quick-shifting dual-clutch automatic gearbox is available on the top-spec petrol and diesel models, but the manual option is more than adequate for most drivers, and cheaper too.

Skoda Fabia petrol engines

The basic 1.0-litre petrol engine is available with either 59 or 74hp and is borrowed from the Skoda Citigo. Tasked with pulling along the heavier Fabia it can feel a little underpowered at times — even the quicker model takes nearly 15 seconds to get from 0-62mph, which is too slow for our liking.

Unless saving money is your absolute priority, then, it is worth considering one of the 1.2-litre models, with either 89 or 109hp. They accelerate from a standstill to 62mph in 10.9 and 9.4 seconds respectively, making it much easier to keep pace with fast-moving traffic. Nevertheless, they still return impressive fuel economy of around 60mpg and cost no more than £20 a year to tax.

Skoda Fabia diesel engines

The three-cylinder, 1.4-litre diesel Fabia is great too, but the higher purchase prices mean that it’s only really worth considering if you are going to be doing high mileages. It is claimed to get more than 80mpg and is free to tax. Buyers can choose from 89hp and 104hp versions, but both offer enough oomph to feel at home on the motorway.

 

Most testers agree that whilst this engine is characterful and fun in the Volkswagen Up!, the extra 100kg it needs to haul around in the Fabia makes it feel "painfully sluggish". Insurance groups are very low, but performance will be inadequate for most.

The extra 15hp that the more powerful version of the 1.0-litre three cylinder helps, but it still takes a rather pedestrian 14.7 seconds to reach 60mph. However, testers note that the engine is "seriously quiet and refined." One or two critics suggest that due to less weight over the front wheels compared to larger-engined models makes the ride feel a little bouncy though, so it may be best to make sure you’re happy with it before you buy.
This is the engine which comes in for the most praise, thanks to feeling smooth and refined, yet having more than enough power to never struggle amongst other traffic.

Whichever state of tune you choose, performance and economy are strong. Even the lower powered 89hp version will hit 60mph in 10.9 seconds, and thanks to the generous 118 lb ft of torque available from just 1,400rpm, overtaking flexibility is great. The one we'd recommend.
If fuel economy is your number one priority, then this is the model to have. A claimed figure of 83.1mpg is the best in the range, but performance is still fine, and it doesn’t sound gruff unlike some diesels in the class.

The more powerful 104hp diesel trades 3mpg for one second knocked off the 0-60 dash. Personally we’d pick the lower powered version, as the extra economy would be a greater benefit to most people.

Buyers can choose between a regular manual gearbox and the seven-speed DSG auto.

The Fabia scored five stars when it was tested by Euro NCAP in late 2014; one of the few cars in this sector to receive more than four stars in what is now a tough test for small cars.

Equipment levels are decent, with six airbags fitted as standard, Isofix child seat fittings in the rear, and a tyre pressure warning systems that alert drivers if the tyres are under-inflated or punctured.

The Fabia gets off to a very good start, thanks to a list price which matches the Fiesta and undercuts the Polo. It may not hold its value as well as those two – particularly the VW – but strong equipment levels should help to compensate slightly.

Even the most basic models come equipped with Bluetooth connectivity, digital radio, electric front windows and a tyre pressure monitor. Emissions are low across the range, which means that at most you’ll only pay £20 for annual road tax.

From 2015, Fabia buyers will be able to choose a sportier-looking Monte Carlo edition of the Fabia. This adds black 16 or 17-inch wheels, optional sports suspension (lowering the car slightly), a panoramic glass roof and tinted rear windows. Inside you’ll find a sportier, sculpted three-spoke steering wheel, and various red splashes around to brighten up the cabin. There’s also a Fabia estate if you need a small car with lots of luggage space.

Conclusion

Considering that Skoda hoped to aim the latest Fabia at a younger audience, they seemed to have missed a trick slightly.

Yes, it is a very capable, solid car, but despite the customisation options that Skoda offer, it’s unlikely that younger drivers will actively choose one over a Fiesta or Corsa. For those who don’t mind or care about looks though, there is plenty of reason to take a closer look at the Fabia. It isn’t quite class-leading, but it does offer a combination of solidity, refinement and frugality that you’ll struggle to find elsewhere.

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