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Car group tests

Skoda Fabia vs VW Polo & Vauxhall Corsa

Is Skoda’s new Fabia a contender in the fiercely contested supermini class?

It’s judgement day for the third-generation Skoda Fabia. The all-new model promises more space than ever, greater efficiency and sharp looks, which are designed to come together and make the car a front-runner in the supermini class.

However, this sector is home to some of the most talented new models on the market, and the Fabia will need to be really special to make an impact. For this first test, we’ve lined up two petrol-powered contenders that will put the car through its paces.

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First up is the Volkswagen Polo. It’s powered by the same 1.2 TSI petrol engine as the Skoda, but it sets the benchmark for refinement and quality in the supermini sector, and it’s pretty fun to drive, too.

Our second rival is the heavily revised Vauxhall Corsa, which now combines great value and modern technology with a good-quality finish and decent space.

So how will the new Fabia fare? Can it topple its VW Group cousin? And does it offer a better mix of talents than the Corsa?

Skoda Fabia review

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VW Polo review

Vauxhall Corsa review

Click the links above to read full individual reviews, and scroll down to find out which car comes out on top in this supermini shoot-out...

Head-to-head

Practicality

All three contenders are roomy for superminis. However, the new Fabia takes some beating for boot space. With the seats in place it’ll hold 330 litres, and when you fold them this grows to 1,150 litres. 

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The Polo trails, on 952 litres, but the standard false boot floor creates a flat load area. While the Corsa falls between its rivals for carrying capacity, it has more rear legroom due its longer wheelbase.

In-car tech

Vauxhall’s IntelliLink system lets you download various apps, like the BringGo nav. But the infotainment touchscreen isn’t as easy to use as the set-up in the Fabia and Polo. The Skoda gets MirrorLink as standard (it’s £160 extra in the VW), so you can beam your smartphone screen on to its display to use apps like the performance monitor.

Safety

In the small car market, safety is crucial. The Polo and Fabia feature low-speed collision avoidance as standard, while the VW has a driver fatigue monitor, and adaptive cruise is £500 extra. Corsa buyers can get lane departure, forward collision alert and traffic sign recognition as part of the £1,300 Technical Pack.

Verdict

1st place: Volkswagen Polo

Another road test win for the Polo, but it’s a photo finish. As ever, the car’s class shines through – no other supermini delivers the same blend of refinement, comfort, quality and low running costs. The VW is also good to drive and offers plenty of big car kit. Yes, it’s a little bit pricier to buy than the new Fabia, but it feels far more upmarket and desirable while still being practical and cheap to run.

2nd place: Skoda Fabia

The Fabia misses out on victory by a narrow margin. Sharper looks, a more composed driving experience and excellent practicality are highlights, as is the top-value price. We also love the eager 1.2-litre petrol engine and low running costs. Yet as with the bigger Octavia, it feels as if Skoda’s pegged back its car so it doesn’t drive over the toes of models from parent firm VW.

3rd place: Vauxhall Corsa

Vauxhall has worked wonders with the Corsa, transforming it from an also ran to a class contender. The new three-cylinder turbo is a strong performer, refinement is excellent and it’s now good to drive. It’s also roomy, well equipped and comfortable. Yet in the face of such stiff competition, it’s hard to ignore this Excite model’s higher price tag and weak residuals.

Skoda Fabia vs VW Polo & Vauxhall Corsa: key specs

 VW Polo 1.2 TSI SESkoda Fabia 1.2 TSI SE Vauxhall Corsa 1.0T Excite
On-the-road price/total as tested£14,210/£15,665£13,390/£13,390£14,695/£15,240
Residual value (after 3yrs/30,000)£6,934/48.8%N/A£5,746/39.1%
Depreciation£7,276N/A£8,949
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£400/£801£373/£747£468/£937
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£1,537/£2,561£1,519/£2,532£1,591/£2,652
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost15/£273/B/£2010/TBC/B/£2012/£243/C/£30
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service£288 (2yrs)£479 (3yrs/30k)TBC
    
Length/wheelbase3,972/2,470mm3,992/2,470mm4,021/2,510mm
Height/width1,453/1,682mm1,467/1,732mm1,481/1,746mm
Engine4cyl in-line/1,197cc4cyl in-line/1,197cc3cyl in-line/988cc
Peak power 89/4,400 bhp/rpm89/4,400 bhp/rpm113/5,000 bhp/rpm
Peak torque 160/1,400 Nm/rpm160/1,400 Nm/rpm170/1,800 Nm/rpm
Transmission 5-spd man/fwd5-spd man/fwd6-spd man/fwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel45 litres/space saver45 litres/foam45 litres/foam
Boot capacity (seats up/down) 280/952 litres330/1,150 litres285/1,120 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight1,107/421/1,000kg1,109/530/1,100kg1,163/516/1,200kg
Turning circle/drag coefficient10.6 metres/N/A9.8 metres/0.32Cd10.6 metres/0.33Cd
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (60,000)/1yr3yrs (60,000)/3yrs3yrs (60,000)/1yr
Service intervals/UK dealersVariable (1yr)/22310,000 miles (1yr)/13520,000 (1yr)/404
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.19th/31st1st/4th29th/20th
NCAP: Adult/child/ped./assist/points90/86/41/71/581/81/69/69/5N/A
    
0-60/30-70mph9.9/10.2 secs10.3/10.8 secs10.4/9.6 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th 5.0/7.2 secs5.3/7.5 secs4.8/6.2 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th 10.9 secs/N/A11.6 secs/N/A9.1/12.4 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph 114mph/2,600rpm113mph/2,500rpm121mph/2,700rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph 51.4/36.9/9.4m48.8/36.1/8.9m53.4/39.8/9.6m
Noise levels outside/idle/30/70mph62/40/58/64dB56/41/63/67dB62/42/61/67dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range43.6/9.7/432 miles44.1/9.8/437 miles42.1/9.4/417 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 47.1/70.6/60.1mpg47.1/70.6/60.1mpg47.1/65.7/57.6mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 10.4/15.5/13.2mpl10.4/15.5/13.2mpl10.4/14.5/12.7mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket150/107g/km/14%148/107g/km/14%155/115g/km/16%
    
Airbags/Isofix/park sensors/cameraFour/yes/£400*/£240Six/yes/£290/noSix/y/£450/£1,300*
Automatic box/stability/cruise control£1,375/yes/£400*£1,650/yes/£180No/yes/yes
Climate control/leather/heated seats£380/no/£360*£300/no/£180£395/no/yes
Met paint/xenon lights/keyless go£540/£900^/no£535/no/£320£545/no/no
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/Bluetooth£700/yes/yes/yesNo/yes/yes/yes£50 (app)/yes/yes/yes
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