Skoda Fabia Review
The Skoda Fabia is a small car with a decent amount of space in the back and a fairly roomy boot, but alternatives are more exciting to look at and to drive
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
- Spacious cabin
- Feels solid inside
- Economical to run
What's not so good
- Dull to drive
- Uninspiring looks
- Entry-level petrol is very slow
Skoda Fabia: what would you like to read next?
The Skoda Fabia is a small but practical small car that’s available with a selection of frugal engines and loads of clever interior features to make it easy to live with. You can also get it as an even more practical estate if you need to carry lots of bulky luggage.
The Skoda Fabia was introduced in 2014 and received a few subtle revisions in 2018. You can now get it with brighter LED headlights, and all models come with a 6.5-inch infotainment display instead of the old car’s smaller 5.0-inch unit.
What hasn’t changed is how robust the Skoda Fabia’s interior feels. The plastics on the doors and dashboard are more solid than in many alternatives and high-spec cars come with the option of some brighter red or posh-looking brushed-metal effect dashboard inserts. Unfortunately, entry-level models look comparatively dull with their plain black design, but at least they come with a 6.5-inch infotainment display and Bluetooth connectivity as standard.
Go for a mid-range Skoda Fabia with the upgraded Swing Plus infotainment option and you get smartphone mirroring while the range-topping Amundsen system comes with a portable wifi hotspot for up to two devices. Each system is easy to use, thanks to a selection of physical shortcut buttons and bright, clear menu graphics.
It doesn’t just come with a decent amount of equipment as standard, however – the Skoda Fabia’s an impressively practical little car, too. There’s more than enough space in the front for tall drivers to stretch out and there’s still enough room left over in the back for two six-foot-tall passengers to get comfy. Three kids have more than enough room to get comfortable and it’s a doddle to fit a pair of child seats using the standard Isofix points.
Don’t think this generous cabin has come at the expense of boot space. Sure, it’s not quite as roomy as a VW Polo or SEAT Ibiza, but the Fabia has a fairly big load bay which comes with numerous handy hooks, partitions and straps to hold your luggage securely. With the back seats folded there’s even room for a bike with one of its wheels attached.
Some small cars trade on their fancy looks and entertaining handling – not so the Skoda Fabia. Instead, this compact hatchback comes with loads of family-friendly features that help make it a doddle to live with
Unfortunately, driving the Skoda Fabia can feel a little like riding a bike – if you go for the rather sluggish 75hp petrol engine, that is. Pick one of the perkier turbocharged petrols and it feels perfectly happy pottering around town or cruising along on the odd motorway journey.
Talking of motorways, while you can get a seven-speed automatic gearbox, you can’t get the Skoda Fabia with a diesel engine. As a result, you’ll be better off with a diesel-powered alternative if you regularly do lots of long motorway journeys.
Around town, the Skoda Fabia’s relatively soft suspension does a fairly decent job ironing out bumps, but very large potholes still send a rather unpleasant thud through the cabin. On a twisty country road, it doesn’t feel anywhere near as nimble as a Ford Fiesta, either.
Reassuringly, Euro NCAP awarded the Fabia a five-star safety rating in 2014 – it’s worth noting the tests have been made significantly stricter since then, however. That said, the Fabia’s still a safe small family car that’s well worth considering if you’re looking for something frugal and very practical considering its size.
The Skoda Fabia’s sensibly laid out cabin comes with a decent amount of standard equipment, but its numerous black plastic trims don’t feel particularly upmarket
The Skoda Fabia might be small, but there’s still an impressive amount of space in its back seats for adults – providing you avoid the bulkier sports seats in Monte Carlo versions
You can get the Skoda Fabia comes with a huge number of clever storage features – from a removable waste bin to a neat clip-on boot basket to stop groceries from sliding around
There’s plenty of seat and steering wheel adjustment to help you get comfortable in the Skoda Fabia. You’ll be treated to more head and legroom in the front than you’ll find in a Ford Fiesta or the Mazda 2, and all models come with a height adjustable driver’s seat as standard. SE models and above get height adjustment for the front passenger’s seat, too.
The standard seats are pretty supportive, but you can upgrade to more heavily bolstered sports seats in SE L models or fork out for a range-topping Monte Carlo version where they come as standard. Unfortunately, you can’t get adjustable lumbar support to help reduce back ache on long journeys in any Skoda Fabia.
Jumping in the back is as easy as pie. All Fabias come with five-doors and a flat roofline which means you won’t have to stoop massively to get in, even if you’re very tall.
There’s an impressive amount of space in the back seats for a small car, too, but if your passengers are particularly lanky they’ll feel slightly more hemmed-in than in the airier Honda Jazz and SEAT Ibiza. There’s enough legroom for your six-foot friends to get fairly comfy, but the thicker sports seats on Monte Carlo models slightly cut into your rear passenger’s knee and foot room.
Three adults will be less cramped in the Skoda Fabia than in a Vauxhall Corsa but a SEAT Ibiza has more shoulder room still. There’s more than enough room for three kids to get comfortable, however, and the Skoda’s wide-opening rear doors and clearly marked Isofix anchor points make fitting a child seat a breeze.
The Skoda Fabia has up a great selection of handy cubbyholes scattered throughout its roomy cabin. The door bins can easily hold a large bottle of water and there’s a pair of cupholders in the centre console. The square storage tray under the dashboard is perfect for holding a smartphone, too, and Monte Carlo models come with a light to help you find smaller items in the dark.
The glovebox is big enough for a large bottle, but only top-spec SE L models come with a front armrest and storage bin as standard. You can get this feature fitted to other versions, but it costs extra. You can also pay extra for the Simply Clever package which comes with a luggage net for the boot, a dedicated phone holder and a removable waste bin that slots into the driver’s door. SE models and above also get a small umbrella under the front passenger seat.
The Skoda Fabia’s 330-litre boot is roomier than the Ford Fiesta’s load bay, but not quite as generous as in a Honda Jazz, VW Polo or SEAT Ibiza. There’s still enough space to carry a baby stroller, a large suitcase and a few small suitcases without removing the parcel shelf, however.
Loading bulky items is relatively easy – thanks to the Fabia’s wide boot opening – but there’s quite a large boot lip that can make it more difficult to unload very heavy boxes. Its deep floor does mean you can carry two large boxes, but there isn’t quite enough space for a set of golf clubs.
You can fold the back seats down in a two-way (60:40) split as standard so you can carry long items and a rear-seat passenger at the same time. With both back seats flipped down, the Skoda Fabia’s boot grows to 1,150 litres – that’s roomy enough to carry a bike with one of its wheels removed. There’s a slight step in the rear floor to contend with once you’ve folded the seats, but it won’t prove too much of a pain unless you regularly carry very large or very heavy items.
All models come with handy luggage hooks to stop shopping bags rolling around in the boot and the optional adjustable boot floor is a sensible buy that’ll make it even easier to load heavy luggage. There’s space underneath to hide away a few valuables when it’s in its raised position, but not enough space to tuck away the parcel shelf.
You can also pay extra for the Simply Clever pack which comes with a handy divider that clips into the boot to stop small bags sliding around and a luggage net to securely tie down bulky bags or fragile items.
The Skoda Fabia’s cheap to run, very easy to drive and fairly comfortable, but if it’s fun on an empty country road you’re after, you’d be better off with something else
The entry-level 75hp petrol is best avoided if you often venture onto the motorway
You can get the Fabia with three petrol engines and with either a manual gearbox or a DSG dual-clutch automatic. All models are designed to be efficient and easy to drive rather than sporty, however, so don’t expect them to be particularly exciting to drive.
The most affordable 1.0-litre MPI model with 75hp is worth considering if you’re on a strict budget and spend most of your time pottering around town. It feels pretty slow when you accelerate hard, but it’s relatively smooth and fairly cheap to run. Go easy on the accelerator and it’ll return around 45mpg.
Pick a 1.0-litre TSI petrol model if you do a broader mix of town and country driving. It’s available with either 95hp or 110hp and both versions feel far perkier than the sluggish 75hp MPI model. These turbocharged engines will both return around 55mpg in normal driving conditions.
All Fabias come with a manual gearbox as standard, but you can upgrade to a DSG automatic in 110hp versions to help take the stress out of long journeys and long traffic jams. It’s a little jerky at slow speeds, however, and often changes up a gear too quickly when you accelerate out of a junction which can make the automatic Skoda Fabia feel a little sluggish.
The Skoda Fabia’s boxy body makes it easy to see out of and a breeze to thread through tight city streets. Its light steering and rear parking sensors – standard on SE models and above – help make it easy to park, too.
The Skoda’s suspension does its best to soften the blow of large potholes but it still fidgets over poorly maintained roads – especially at slow speeds. Head out of town and the Fabia settles down into a fairly comfy cruise. It’s smoothest on the motorway and you don’t hear too much wind or tyre noise.
Unfortunately, the Fabia leans quite a lot in tight corners – your passengers in the back may start to feel a little car sick as a result. This is less of an issue in sportier Monte Carlo model with their lowered suspension. Speaking of Monte Carlo versions, the larger 18-inch alloy wheels you can get on these range-topping cars are best avoided – they look great but they’ll make the Skoda Fabia less comfortable.
Euro NCAP awarded the Skoda Fabia a five-star safety rating in 2014. The tests have been made significantly stricter since then, however.
SE models and above come with a speed limiter and automatic emergency braking features while SE L, Colour Edition and Monte Carlo models get cruise control as standard. You can also pay extra to get blind-spot monitoring and cross-traffic alert systems to help prevent avoidable collisions on motorways and when you’re pulling out of parking spaces.