Skoda Fabia 2008 review

Are you looking for family car space on a supermini budget? Then Skoda thinks it has the answer.

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

Skoda's design team has been extremely clever... While the Fabia estate offers masses more room inside, it’s only slightly bigger than the hatch, and looks just as appealing. The 1.2-litre petrol engine doesn’t have enough power, but you can’t argue with the model’s quality feel – or its rock-bottom price. If you can put up with the noise, we’d opt for a diesel; the extra torque will pay off when the boot is fully loaded.

The best of both worlds – that’s what Skoda says its new Fabia estate offers. The firm claims it combines the practicality of a larger car with the appeal of a supermini. And Auto Express has tried one of the first right-hand-drive models to hit UK shores.

The model shares its chassis with the hatchback, but the longer tailgate gives it a 247mm advantage over the hatch. It sees a modest 7mm increase in length and 42mm in height over the previous model, yet despite its new, larger dimensions, Skoda has produced a relatively sleek shape.

Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Skoda Fabia

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Blacked-out A and B-pillars create the illusion of the windscreen wrapping all the way to the back of the car, helping to stretch the profile further.

Inside, there’s more headroom front and rear than before, plus a cavernous boot. Buyers get a 480-litre capacity with the seats in place, and this rises to 1,460 litres with them folded – a 235-litre increase on its predecessor.

Up front, the fixtures and fittings are lifted straight from the latest hatch-back, so there’s the same expensive, high-quality feel to the switchgear – some-thing we have come to expect from the Czech brand.

Our car was fitted with the smallest engine in the six-strong range: a three-cylinder 1.2-litre petrol that produces 70bhp and 112Nm of torque. It prom-ises 47.9mpg fuel economy and puts out an impressive 140g/km of CO2.

The unit feels smooth and more than happy to rev, which is exactly what you want around town. But on A-roads and motorways, acceleration is disappointing. While there’s none of the coarseness apparent in the diesel estate we tried at the European launch in November in Issue 989, the petrol engine could do with the oil-burner’s extra torque – especially when the big boot is full. Supple suspension makes for comfortable progress, but the trade-off is significant body roll in corners. This is a pity, as the hatch-like dimensions and accurate steering encourage you to press on in a way you wouldn’t normally in an estate.

Other engine options comprise 1.4 and 1.6-litre petrols, a 1.4-litre diesel with 70bhp or 80bhp and the flagship 1.9 TDI, which delivers 105bhp. The latter will set you back £13,775 in top-spec 3 trim, so in terms of practicality for your pound, the base 1.2 petrol is difficult to beat, at £9,360.

We can’t really criticise the Fabia estate in any one area. If space and value feature at the top of your list of priorities, look no further. But if you require a little bit more style, the load-lugging Peugeot 207 or Renault Clio are likely to be more up your street.

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