Skoda Fabia long-term test

Following the arrival of two excellent new small hatchbacks, does our 2015 Car of the Year remain a top-drawer choice?...

Skoda Fabia long-term
  • The Car: Skoda Fabia 1.0 TSI 95 SE L
  • Run by: Kris Culmer, sub-editor
  • Why it's here: To see if our 2015 Car of the Year is still a top choice after the arrival of several new rivals
  • Needs to: Be smooth, sufficiently powerful, economical and enjoyable during the daily commute, as well as able to cope with the odd haulage job

Price £16,505 Price as tested £17,625 Mileage 7074 Official fuel economy 51.4mpg (WLTP) Test economy 49.7mpg Options Brilliant Silver metallic paint (£595), Winter Package (£250), keyless entry (£165), temporary steel spare wheel (£110)

26 February 2019 – Utilities

You might think that practical concerns are irrelevant in a small car, if you’re of the view that these vehicles are used purely for commuting and shopping.

But if that’s the case, why are almost all hatchbacks now sold exclusively with five doors, rather than three? And, for some reductio ad absurdum, why doesn’t everyone just buy a Renault Twizy? Answer number one: most cars will sometimes carry people in the back, so let’s not make their lives harder for no reason. Answer number two: I was the passenger in a Twizy driving through London a few years back, and I’m still cold and my behind is still sore.

fabia long-term

It’s clear that Skoda recognises this and made it central to the Fabia's development. First, it just feels roomy inside, and that’s no illusion, because there’s plenty of leg and head room for the pair in the front. Second, those behind aren’t forgotten about, even down to the doors, which I noticed open unusually wide when strapping in a pair of guinea pig carriers (odd, okay, but just imagine they’re child seats).

However, you’ll note that our review section is named ‘space and practicality’, rather than just ‘space’. And here, the Fabia excels to an even greater degree. I talked about the in-built ice scraper last time, and several more things have come in really handy since.

First is the plastic strap hanging from the tailgate, which enables me to shut the boot without covering my hands in road grime; this would also be a boon to the very shortest of motorists. Then there are the large door bins (some rivals, such as the Toyota Yaris, don’t have any at all in the rear), the perfectly phone-and-keys-sized tray ahead of the gearlever and the storage trays built into the left-side wheel arch in the boot.

fabia long-term

Best of all, though, is the umbrella. No joke; it’s under the passenger seat. I remembered this after parking up in a horrendous rainstorm to my girlfriend’s complaints about her hair being ruined while walking to the end of the road. So, the Fabia made me look like a proper gentleman…

The only one I can’t work out is the plastic clip on the windscreen, which is apparently for parking tickets. I’ve always just laid the ticket on top of the instrument dial cowling. Am I missing something? Are those little luminous ‘officers’ not able to see it there?

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