Skoda Fabia review
A new Fabia supermini is due next year, but the current version remains a comfortable, practical and good value choice
The Skoda Fabia is a well proven supermini contender that builds on the dependable nature of its predecessors with more tech and a surprisingly enjoyable drive. It’s very roomy, handles tidily, has a couple of decent engines, and mid-spec trim levels and above are well stocked with kit.
A facelift in 2018 couldn’t quite transform the Fabia into the class-leader, but it still remains a refined and sensible supermini. The VW Polo is marginally more comfortable and gets more advanced infotainment tech, but the Skoda is cheaper to buy in the first place. Some rivals offer fancier tech and are more fun to drive, but as a safe, dependable small family hatchback, the Fabia is still very hard to fault.
About the Skoda Fabia
Even though it’s due for replacement in 2021 the Fabia, whether it's the five-door hatch or the practical estate, is still one of the best superminis for sale in the UK today. It offers lots of practicality, decent space inside and a pair of 1.0-litre petrol engines that will satisfy most needs. And while there's no vRS hot hatch, the Fabia is still a decent handling yet refined supermini, which helps to make it a front-runner in the class. That said, the current generation is being phased out in favour of an all new Fabia that’s due in 2021, but canny buyers should be able to use that fact in their favour when negotiating a price with dealers as they run down stock. Talking of which, buying from stock is the only way you can get your hands on a new Fabia now, as the factory isn’t taking any orders until the new one comes out.
This current third generation Fabia arrived in 2014, and was given a minor freshen up in 2018. This mid-life facelift saw the engine range revised with just 1.0-litre petrol engines available, more practical touches added to the interior, and the most subtle of exterior revisions.
Rivals for the Fabia are plentiful, and are led by the UK's best-selling car, the Ford Fiesta. Other mainstream models include the Vauxhall Corsa, Citroen C3, Nissan Micra and Toyota Yaris, while in-house rivals are offered in the shape of the SEAT Ibiza and VW Polo, although the latter is a bit pricier. Elsewhere, the Kia Rio and Hyundai i20 are practical choices, while the Honda Jazz has a more upright body. The Mazda 2 is a sporty alternative, and the Peugeot 208 and Renault Clio are also available.
Under the skin, the Skoda Fabia uses a mix of tech taken from the last model and the VW Group’s MQB platform. As already mentioned, the engine range changed in 2018, with the 1.2 TSI petrol and all diesels dropped and just 1.0-litre petrol units offered, each gaining exhaust particualte filters to pass the latest emissions regulations. The 1.0 MPI 59bhp three-cylinder unit is only available in the hatchback range, while the boosted 1.0 TSI originally came in 94bhp and 108bhp forms, before the more powerful unit was also dropped earlier in 2021. There was little to separate them in terms of economy or performance, and the 94bhp version is the one we'd have chosen anyway. Both remaining Fabia powertrains are front-wheel drive and come with a five-speed manual gearbox as standard, but the 94bhp variant is also offered with a seven-speed DSG auto 'box.
Prices for the Fabia start from almost £14,700, with the estate incurring a premium of around £1,000 over the hatch. Trims comprise S, SE, SE Drive, SE L and Monte Carlo, with the limited run Colour Edition available on the hatchback. S models are rather sparse, but SE comes with air con, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, rear parking sensors and Smartlink + smartphone connectivity.
Go for the plush SE L version and it comes with keyless go, cruise control and smarter trim. The Monte Carlo is a sporty model that's based on SE with a body kit and contrasting black roof and wheels, but apart from LED running lights it’s otherwise similar to the SE. Sadly, Skoda said there was not enough demand for a hot Fabia, so there hasn’t been a vRS option this time around.
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In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingA new Fabia supermini is due next year, but the current version remains a comfortable, practical and good value choice
- 2Engines, performance and driveNon-turbo, entry-level engines can struggle, but the 1.0 TSI petrol is surprisingly strong
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsThe Fabia includes a range of fuel-efficient engines, helping to reduce CO2 emissions and keep running costs low
- 4Interior, design and technologyThe Fabia's plain interior design is nevertheless well-built and includes some standout technology
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceVery roomy and practical, the comfortable Fabia also boasts one of the biggest boots in the supermini sector
- 6Reliability and SafetySkoda performs well in Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, while the Fabia includes good levels of safety kit