Skoda Fabia Estate

The Czech manufacturer is hoping to load up on practicality and style with its latest offering.

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

With more space, style and equipment than before, the new Fabia Estate is an impressive car. It has a versatile cabin, while the styling is much more attractive than the hatch. But with a price tag of £13,775, the flagship 3 driven here strays dangerously close to Ford Focus territory. Spend £11,935 on the 2 trim, together with the punchy 80bhp 1.4-litre TDI diesel, and you really will be getting big car practicality for supermini money.

Apparently, you can have your cake and eat it – particularly if you buy a Skoda. After the success of the cake-based advertising for the Fabia, the Czech firm claims its new estate is just as sweet as the standard hatch.

Now in its second generation, the Fabia Estate promises the versatility of a family car at a supermini price – the entry-level version costs only £9,360.

And with a 235-litre gain in luggage capacity, plus better quality and more equipment, the latest version should be even more successful than its predecessor. But this time around, the Skoda is facing competition from the stylish Peugeot 207 SW and forth­coming Renault Clio Tourer.

The designers have done a great job turning the hatch into an est­ate. Although it’s been stretched by only 7mm, it seems far longer and sleeker than the normal car. The steeply raked tailgate, extra side windows behind the rear doors and aluminium roof rails all help create this impression.

Open the large tailgate, fold the rear seats flat and you’ll find 1,460 litres of space. Deep cubbies, a roller blind-style luggage net and a 60:40-split rear bench boost versatility further. Thanks to a 46mm increase in height, there’s also much more headroom in the rear. Elsewhere, the cabin shares its parts with the hatch, which means it not only looks upmarket, but feels expensive, too.

This premium air is diluted when you start the engine. It’s coarse under acceleration and at idle – although Skoda still believes the torquey 105bhp 1.9 TDI will be the top seller.

Things improve on the road. The capable chassis offers plenty of grip, and there’s only a small amount of body roll. The steering is light and dir­ect, and the ride remains composed and supple over badly broken surfaces.

In fact, barring the coarseness of the engine, there’s not much to mark this new Skoda down on – particularly when you take into account the price, which really is the icing on the cake.

Rival: Peugeot 207 SW The French estate lags behind the Skoda for space, price and build quality. However, the 1.6 HDi diesel is refined, powerful and frugal, and the 207 handles well. As with the Fabia, it also proves that load- luggers don’t need to look dull.

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