The Fabia’s cheap to run, as well as being comfortable and reasonably quiet on the motorway, but it won’t put an ear-to-ear grin on your face like a Ford Fiesta can
You can get the Fabia with three petrol and three diesel engines and with either a five-speed 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.
Pick a 1.0-litre TSI petrol model if you spend most of your time pottering around town. It’s available with either 95hp or 110hp and both versions feel far perkier than the rather sluggish 75hp MPI model. They’ll both return around 55mpg in real-world conditions.
You should only consider one of the Fabia’s 1.4-litre diesels if you spend more time on the motorway and rack up a high mileage. The 75hp version fitted to S models is best avoided. It’s noisy, rattly and will struggle to keep up with motorway traffic – especially if you’ve got passengers on board.
Go for a 1.0-litre petrol – you'll be surprised how nippy the more powerful 110hp version feels in the Fabia
The 90hp model has enough grunt to keep up with fast-moving traffic and will return around 65mpg in real-world driving. It’s a little louder than the petrols around town but they settle into a reasonably quiet cruise on the motorway.
All Fabias come with a five-speed manual gearbox as standard but you can upgrade to a DSG automatic for an extra £1,000. It’ll really help take the stress out of long journeys and seemingly endless traffic jams but it’s a little jerky at slow speeds which can make parking a little bit nerve-wracking.
The 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’ll still fidget slightly 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 manages to muffle most unpleasant wind noise and tyre roar.
Unfortunately, the softly-sprung Fabia leans quite a lot in tight corners – your passengers in the back may start to feel a little car sick as a result. Sportier Monte Carlo models with stiffer suspension lean less but you’ll feel bumps and potholes more clearly through your seat. The larger 17-inch alloy wheels present a similar problem – they look great but they’ll make the Fabia less comfortable to drive. Save yourself £350 and stick to the standard 16-inch items.
Euro NCAP awarded the Skoda Fabia a five-star safety rating in 2014. The tests have been made significantly stricter since then, however, so newer five-star-rated models – such as the Nissan Micra – will offer extra protection in a collision.
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.