The Skoda Fabia is practical, frugal and well-equipped but its nondescript styling and dull interior won’t set your pulse racing
The Skoda Fabia is a small but practical family car that’s available with a selection of frugal engines and loads of clever interior features to make it easy to live with. It’s also available as a practical estate.
The Fabia was introduced in 2014 and received a few subtle revisions in early 2017. The old 1.2-litre petrol engine was replaced with a more efficient 1.0-litre version and the headlights were revised.
What hasn’t changed is the robust feeling of the interior. Its materials are harder wearing than a Vauxhall Corsa’s, although entry-level S models have a sea of dark plastics that are particularly unappealing on the eye.
Another reason to avoid entry-level S models is their basic-looking five-inch touchscreen infotainment system, although it does come with Bluetooth and DAB digital radio. The upgraded 6.5-inch screen – fitted to SE models and above – is clearer, brighter and easier to read on the move.
If you want satellite navigation, however, you’ll have to pay an extra £500. Really, you’re better off using Mirrorlink, Apple CarPlay or Android Auto (all fitted as standard to the 6.5-inch system) to mirror your smartphone’s navigation apps on the Fabia’s built-in screen.
The Fabia’s roomy whichever model you go for, though, and there’s plenty of space for you to get comfortable even if you’re very tall. Steering wheel and driver’s seat-height adjustment come as standard and all but entry-level S models get height adjustment for the passenger seat too.
There’s plenty of space in the back for two tall adults to sit fairly comfortably – providing you avoid the thick sports seats fitted to Monte Carlo models. Carrying three abreast is a tighter squeeze than in a Honda Jazz but kids will have no problem getting comfy. Fitting a child seat is dead easy, too, thanks to the clearly marked Isofix anchor points and the fact the rear doors open nice and wide.
A big boot is another string to the Skoda’s bow. Its 330-litre space is only outclassed by the likes of the 354-litre Honda Jazz and 355-litre SEAT Ibiza. It’s easily big enough for a baby buggy and some soft bags, and grows to 1,150 litres when you fold the rear seats down. The handy two-way (60:40) split-folding rear seats mean you can carry long items and two passengers in the back, too. With all the seats down, a bike will fit easily with one wheel removed.
The Skoda Fabia comes with bundles of clever, family friendly features that make it the small car equivalent of a Swiss Army Knife
You may as well stay on the bike if you specify the super-slow 60hp petrol engine. You’re much better off going for the nippier 95hp 1.0-litre TSI petrol, which will return fuel economy of around 55mpg in the real world and is brilliant for cruising around town. The 105hp 1.4-litre diesel – that’ll return 72.4mpg (officially, at least) – is a better bet if you cover many motorway miles.
Zippy performance or not, the Skoda will never be as fun to drive as a Ford Fiesta or as comfortable as a VW Polo, but the Fabia’s a good all-rounder. Its soft suspension can struggle slightly with bumps at slow speeds but it settles down into a relaxed cruise on the motorway.
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. 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.