If you’re thinking about buying a small car, the chances are you’ll have spent some time considering the Skoda Fabia. After all, it was our Car of the Year in 2014, and it’s still one of the best small car choices on the new car market, and one of the most sensible, too, with a huge boot and loads of space for passengers.
But since when was life all about being sensible? For the same price as our favourite version of the brand-new Fabia, an Audi A1 Sportback that’s just a year old could be yours. It too has five doors, and while it sacrifices some of its space for style, you do get the classiest interior of any small car around – not to mention a more potent engine.
But which of these two tempting tots should you choose? Read on as we compare our favourite version of both to find out.
Skoda Fabia 1.0 TSI 95 SE List Price: £14,350 Target price: £13,128 Official fuel economy: 64.2mpg Emissions: 101g/km CO2 Power: 94bhp 0-62mph: 10.6sec Top speed: 115mph
Audi A1 1.4 TSI 125 Sport Price new: £17,295 Price today: £13,000 Official fuel economy: 55.4mpg Emissions: 118g/km CO2 Power: 123bhp 0-62mph: 8.9sec Top speed: 127mph
Price today is based on a 2016 model with average mileage and a full service history
New Skoda Fabia vs used Audi A1 – styling
Viewed in isolation, the Skoda Fabia isn’t a bad-looking thing, with chunky lines that go a long way toward disguising the tall roofline and boxy passenger space. However, even then, there are some angles – particularly from the rear – where it looks a touch awkward. It’s also rather plain, with few adornments or neat bits of detailing; in fact, the styling of the Fabia very much communicates the nature of the rest of the car: straight down the line, with few fripperies.
Of course, put the Fabia next to even a two-year-old Audi A1, and its plainness is drawn into sharp focus. In fact, without the reg plates, you’d struggle to tell which was actually the older car. The A1’s pert looks are accentuated by neat little touches dotted throughout the car, and it shares plenty of visual references with its more expensive stablemates, helping it to look even more upmarket. The contrasting upper body sides, another smart feature, were a popular option, and are therefore easy to find on the used market.
New Skoda Fabia vs used Audi A1 – driving
If the Audi has more pep visually, so it goes once you get out on the road, too. In this 1.4-litre form, our pick of the range, you get 123bhp to play with to the Skoda’s 94, so it’s understandable that there’s a heap more performance on offer. That said, the Fabia isn’t too lethargic by comparison; with a solid chunk of pull even from low revs, what performance it does have is extremely usable, so you shouldn’t feel too short-changed.
However, the Skoda slips further behind in corners. It’s softer and less communicative than the Audi, whose firm ride keeps the body well-controlled. You get more grip in the Audi, too, and the steering’s responses are sharper. In short, it’s the one you’d choose if you were a keen driver.
The payoff for that smart handling comes in terms of ride quality, though, because this Sport version of the A1’s stiffer suspension can be a somewhat jarring over rougher surfaces and large bumps. It was possible to swap this for the softer suspension of the SE model at no cost when the A1 was new, but cars that are so-equipped are rare, so the chances are you’ll just have to make do.
You’d hope, therefore, that the Fabia would be much more comfortable – frankly, though, it isn’t. True, it doesn’t have the Audi’s outright firmness, but the Fabia’s jiggly ride quality isn’t all that comfortable. It does at least settle down once you’re on the motorway, mind you.