Skoda Fabia Hatchback full 9 point review
The 74bhp 1.0-litre petrol engine feels a little underpowered at times, so we'd go for the 89bhp 1.2 TSI; it revs smoothly and has a decent amount of low-down shove, so you don't need to work it hard. Yes, the higher-powered 1.2 is faster and pulls harder in gear, but for most people the lower-powered unit will be fine. The 104bhp version of the three-cylinder diesel provides the most in-gear shove, but it runs out of puff at relatively low revs.
Ride & Handling
The Fabia won’t wow you with its driving dynamics like a Ford Fiesta will, but it’s still very good to drive. It turns in to corners eagerly and has steering that tells you all you need to know about what the front wheels are doing. It’s even quite good fun. The ride isn’t perfect at low speeds – especially over patchy surfaces – but it is smoother on A-roads and motorways.
Both 1.2-litre four-cylinder petrol engines are smooth and hushed; in fact, the lower-powered one is the sweet spot for refinement in the whole Fabia line-up. There's plenty of buzz from the 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrols, which are fine around town but become less refined as the revs rise. The diesel is the noisiest of the bunch. Wind noise is an issue, particularly from around the windscreen pillars and the door mirrors. All versions have a light and precise gearshift.
Buying & Owning
The Fabia undercuts its closest rivals – the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo – on price, plus it has a range of economical, efficient engines that'll please private and company buyers alike. The Fabia will also hold on to a decent amount of its value, although not as much as the classier Polo.
Quality & Reliability
There's precious little joie de vivre inside; everything is neat and well screwed together, but it's a sea of various black textured plastics, apart from a single strip of gloss plastic across the dashboard. At least most of the switches feel solid enough; the exceptions are the heating and ventilation rotary controls, which feel a little flimsy. Skoda has an impressive reliability record, so the Fabia shouldn't let you down.
Safety & Security
Every Fabia comes with six airbags, stability control and a tyre pressure-monitoring system. There's also plenty of high-tech safety kit, including a system that'll brake the car if you get too close to the vehicle in front (this is standard from SE trim upwards) and one that automatically applies the brakes after an accident to limit the severity of any subsequent impacts. This all helped the Fabia earn a maximum five-star crash test rating from Euro NCAP. SE versions and above get an alarm.
Behind The Wheel
There's plenty of adjustment to the seat and steering wheel, so it's easy to get comfortable. The dashboard is also logically laid out, with a five-inch central screen on entry-level S versions and a 6.5-inch screen on SE and SE L cars. Each system has big shortcut buttons at either side of the screen to take you directly to the main features without having to scroll through needless menus. Vision is good both forwards and backwards, thanks to thin pillars and tall windows.
Space & Practicality
There's lots of head- and legroom in the front and rear seats, so four adults should be perfectly happy. Three adults will struggle to sit side by side in the rear seats and feel comfortable for long, but this is still one of the most spacious small cars around. The boot is a good size, too; it has enough space for a week's holiday luggage or the weekly shopping. The only slight downsides are a bit of a boot lip to lift items over and rear seats that lie at an angle once folded down.
Entry-level models come with Bluetooth, a DAB radio, a USB socket, remote central locking and electrically adjustable door mirrors, but that's about it. We'd go for SE trim, which gets the all-important air-con, along with alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, an upgraded stereo and a leather steering wheel. SE L versions add climate and cruise controls, an automatically dimming rear-view mirror and audio controls on the steering wheel.