In-depth reviews

Skoda Fabia review: a safe and sensible supermini, but not the most exciting

If you’re after an affordable supermini that delivers plenty of space, comfort and on-board technology, then the Skoda Fabia won’t disappoint

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.5 out of 5

Price
£19,700 to £25,600
  • Interior space
  • Decent on-board tech
  • Comfortable
  • No hybrid model
  • Road noise at higher speed
  • Not particularly fun to drive
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Skoda clearly hasn’t lost sight of what has made its Fabia supermini so successful after more than 20 years in production. More practical than ever, with great space for passengers and modern onboard tech mean that the Czech manufacturer has finessed what was already a pretty compelling package. 

Throw in the fourth-generation Fabia’s sharper styling, reassuring levels of safety kit and some keen pricing, which undercuts its SEAT Ibiza and Volkswagen Polo siblings, and buyers might find it hard to resist the appeal of Skoda’s latest supermini.

About the Skoda Fabia

It’s fair to say that today’s superminis are not the compact runabouts they once were. Always a popular choice for its mix of affordability, practicality and ease of use, the humble small hatch has faced a new era of safety regulation, combined with buyers demanding improved quality, extra space and greater comfort. All of which has led to more sizable models being designed and brought to market.

In fact, the breadth of skills on offer from established supermini rivals such as the Renault Clio and Vauxhall Corsa mean that the gap between this segment and traditional family hatchbacks such as the Ford Focus and VW Golf is closer than ever. With extra competition from its SEAT Ibiza and Volkswagen Polo stablemates, and the likes of the Hyundai i20, Mazda 2, Peugeot 208 and Toyota Yaris offering strong appeal, Skoda’s fourth-generation Fabia certainly has its work cut out. 

Lucky then, that the five-door Czech supermini benefits from using the same MQB-A0 platform as its Polo and Ibiza cousins. This architecture also underpins Skoda’s Scala family car and Kamiq small SUV, and its lightness helps to keep the Fabia’s weight roughly the same as its predecessor’s. A feat all the more impressive when you consider the new car is 111mm longer and almost 48mm wider.

As a testament of how competent the Fabia now is, it came out on top in our twin test review against the VW Polo; we saw the Fabia as being 'virtually impossible to overlook', as long as the finance figures were competitive - a reason that saw it just pipped to the post by the Renault Clio in a further triple test that also featured the Honda Jazz.

Under the skin, Skoda has kept things pretty simple; the 64bhp 1.0-litre MPI petrol engine is no longer available, leaving a 79bhp MPI unit, along with a 1.0-litre TSI turbocharged engine offering more punch with a choice of 94bhp or 108bhp. A 148bhp 1.5-litre TSI petrol sits at the top of the range.

All Fabias use a five-speed manual gearbox, with the exception of the most powerful 108bhp model, which has a six-speed manual as standard and the option of a DSG automatic transmission, while the 148bhp model only comes with the DSG auto.

The entry-level S version no longer features on the price list, so the line-up now includes SE Comfort, SE L, Colour Edition and Monte Carlo trim levels. Standard kit across the Fabia range is pretty generous with 15-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, rear parking sensors, air-conditioning, a DAB radio and safety tech you’d perhaps expect to see on more expensive models.

The Fabia SE Comfort model is priced at around £19,000, which means it’s competitive with many of its close rivals, while most mid-spec cars come in between £20,000 and £22,000. The sweet spot in the range is arguably the 108bhp six-speed manual version paired with either the SE Comfort or SE L trim, depending on whether you feel you need the extra tech features that come with the SE L, such as integrated sat-nav, cruise control and a bigger infotainment touchscreen.

For an alternative review of the Skoda Fabia, visit our sister site carbuyer.co.uk...

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