Skoda Fabia Estate

Low price and excellent fuel efficiency ensure Czech carrier is tempting buy.

The supermini-based estate is still relatively rare, but grafting a load-lugging tail on to a cutting-edge small hatch can result in a very practical family car.

And with its reputation for value, it’s no surprise that Skoda leads the way in this class. From the outset, the firm offered an estate version of the Fabia.

The original was launched in 2001, and replaced this year. In all that time, Skoda has sold 630,000 of these little estates – 31,000 of them in the UK.

So what attracts space-conscious buyers to the Fabia carrier? As with the standard car, robust build quality and solid styling clearly appeal. Designers have done a good job of integrating the larger rear end into the overall shape.

Surprisingly, the load-lugger is only 247mm longer than the standard model. The sloping tailgate looks better than a flat rear end, and although that detracts slightly from the load area, it hasn’t stopped the Skoda from chalking up a space-per-pound victory.

The Fabia is much smaller than Peugeot’s 308 SW, but the boot is an identical 97mm deep with the seats in place. Fold them and the Lion’s longer wheelbase wins through; the Skoda’s load area is 17mm shorter.

Let’s not forget, though, that the French model is from the class above! With the rear seats in use, Fabia owners still have 480 litres below the parcel shelf – which is more than the Renault Clio Sport Tourer (439 litres) and the Peugeot 207 SW (325 litres).

There are plenty of neat touches in the boot, too. You get handy side pockets behind the wheelarches and a useful tray under the floor. The roller blind-style luggage cover is self-retracting – simply tap the handle and it slides back.

That’s not to say the luggage bay is perfect. The high boot lip means heavy items are tricky to load and you have to remove the rear headrests to fold the seats flat. But there’s little else to fault about the Fabia. Its simple cabin layout is easy to get on with, while build and finish are superb.

It’s very easy to drive, too; nicely weighted controls and composed handling mean the Skoda is very accomplished.

Body roll is an issue when cornering, but the ride is comfortable and there’s a decent amount of grip.

While the 1.9-litre TDI diesel engine is beginning to show its age, the 105bhp output gives the little Skoda adequate performance. It’s the combination of space, value and quality that gains this Fabia so many fans. Although it’s a no-frills choice, it’s roomy, well built and easy to drive.

Details

Price: £9,174-£13,495Model tested: Skoda Fabia Estate

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