Skoda Fabia review

Category: Small car

The Fabia is a comfortable, practical and grown-up-feeling small car

Skoda Fabia front cornering
  • Skoda Fabia front cornering
  • Skoda Fabia rear cornering
  • Skoda Fabia interior dashboard
  • Skoda Fabia boot open
  • Skoda Fabia infotainment touchscreen
  • Skoda Fabia right driving
  • Skoda Fabia front left driving
  • Skoda Fabia rear cornering
  • Skoda Fabia left static boot open
  • Skoda Fabia alloy wheel detail
  • Skoda Fabia interior front seats
  • Skoda Fabia interior back seats
  • Skoda Fabia interior steering wheel detail
  • Skoda Fabia interior climate controls
  • Skoda Fabia interior detail
  • Skoda Fabia front cornering
  • Skoda Fabia rear cornering
  • Skoda Fabia interior dashboard
  • Skoda Fabia boot open
  • Skoda Fabia infotainment touchscreen
  • Skoda Fabia right driving
  • Skoda Fabia front left driving
  • Skoda Fabia rear cornering
  • Skoda Fabia left static boot open
  • Skoda Fabia alloy wheel detail
  • Skoda Fabia interior front seats
  • Skoda Fabia interior back seats
  • Skoda Fabia interior steering wheel detail
  • Skoda Fabia interior climate controls
  • Skoda Fabia interior detail
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Introduction

What Car? says...

Some small cars are cheap and feel it while others have a premium price tag without giving you much extra for your money. And then there’s the Skoda Fabia.

The Fabia has always seemed to offer more than the sum of its parts, and that’s one reason why more than 4.5 million of these small hatchbacks have hit the roads since its original launch.

Why else are people drawn to the Fabia? For many reasons, including Skoda's Simply Clever philosophy. It’s about providing clever feature that solve simple problems to hopefully make life, well… simpler.

Are iced-up windows a bugbear of yours? There’s an ice scraper clipped to the inside of the fuel flap. Do you hate getting caught out by sudden downpours? Then grab the umbrella that slots into the front driver’s door of some models ready for a rainy day.

The range of engines Skoda offers for the Fabia is simple too. They all run on petrol, with power ranging from 78bhp to 148bhp, depending on which version you go for.

So is the Skoda Fabia good enough to compete with the best small cars? After all, there are plenty of rivals, with low-cost entrants such as the Citroën C3 Origin and Dacia Sandero, mainstream alternatives including the Renault Clio and Seat Ibiza plus pricier choices like the Peugeot 208 and VW Polo. Read on to find out...

Overview

The Skoda Fabia is practical, comfy and remains one of the best small cars on sale today. It's not as engaging to drive as the Seat Ibiza or as efficient as the Honda Jazz, but it’ll cost you less and still manages to be good in every area. A Renault Clio has a smarter interior, but if you’re after a new small car, it’s definitely worth including the Fabia on your shortlist.

  • Huge boot
  • Roomy interior with clever features
  • Fairly supple ride
  • Renault Clio has a smarter interior
  • Not as practical as the Honda Jazz
  • Entry-level engine only suited to town driving
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Our Pick

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Skoda Fabia 1.0 TSI SE Comfort 5dr review
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox

The Skoda Fabia's entry-level 1.0 MPI 80 petrol engine, which doesn't have a turbocharger, officially takes 15 seconds to get from 0-62mph, so expect seriously weedy real-world performance. We'd only consider this engine if all your driving is on slow town roads.

Our advice is to go for the turbocharged 94bhp 1.0 TSI 95, which managed a 0-60mph time of 10.7 seconds in our test. That's swifter than a Renault Clio TCe 90 by a comfortable margin. You'll have to change down a gear if you plan to overtake slower traffic or head up a steep incline, but a healthy slug of mid-range punch means acceleration is perfectly adequate.

If you want to match the equivalent Seat Ibiza, you’ll need to go for the 114bhp 1.0 TSI 116, which upgrades the manual gearbox from five speeds to six. It has a smoother power delivery than the TSI 95, although you'll still need to change down a gear occasionally for a burst of acceleration. If your budget can’t stretch to it, you won’t be missing out by much.

If oomph is your ultimate goal, the 1.5 TSI 150 will be the one for you. With 148bhp to play with, it cuts the 0-62mph time down to 8.0 seconds, and feels much quicker than the other versions. It’s available on most trim levels, but there’s no manual option with it – you’ll get a DSG automatic gearbox (which is also available as an option with the 1.0 TSI 110).

Skoda Fabia image
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Suspension and ride comfort

Small cars haven't traditionally been particularly attractive to those who want a smooth, pampering ride, but the Fabia is on a par for comfort with one of the best – the VW Polo. 

It’s softer than the Clio and the Ibiza, and not far off the Peugeot 208 for its ability to isolate you from lumps and bumps in the road.

Around town and on A-roads, the Fabia rides almost all dips and divots very well. The payoff is that it pitches around a bit, swaying your head from side to side, but the effect is gentle. In this respect, it manages to just edge the Polo, which fidgets slightly more at slow speeds.

Skoda Fabia rear cornering

Handling

The Fabia’s steering is usefully light for city driving and tough to fault for accuracy, but it's worth using the Sport driving mode (optional as part of the Convenience Package) for more reassuring weighting when driving along faster, winding roads.

Either way, there’s plenty of grip in corners but also a fair amount of body lean. The Clio and Ibiza are better choices if you want a taut, agile small car that will put a smile on your face.

Noise and vibration

The Fabia's five and six-speed manual gearboxes are light and easy to use, if not as smooth and positive as equivalents in the Clio and Ibiza. The clutch and brakes respond consistently, making it an easy car to drive deftly in traffic.

In terms of engine noise, the 1.0 TSI engines boom and babble a bit, with small vibrations felt through the floor when you wind them up. They’re hushed when you drive sedately, though, and you'll barely hear them at all when cruising on the motorway

There's some suspension noise on broken roads but otherwise refinement is impressive and the Fabia is a quieter cruiser than the Clio and Ibiza.

“Personally, I'd spec the Fabia with the smallest, 16in wheels; they might looks like sofa casters, but they keep road noise to an absolute minimum and also enhance the already impressive ride.” – Will Nightingale, Reviews Editor

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

Driving position and dashboard

The Skoda Fabia’s driving position is excellent and it’s easy to set everything up just how you want it, with all trims offering seat-height adjustment. The seat itself is comfortable with plenty of shoulder support, although you have to go for Colour Edition trim and above to get adjustable lumbar support to keep you in a good posture on longer journeys.

Entry-level SE Comfort trim comes with an 8.0in digital driver's display, while higher trim levels get a larger 10.3in one that offers a wide range of layouts and customisation.

There are proper buttons and dials to control the air conditioning, so changing the interior temperature isn't too distracting (in the Peugeot 208 you have to use small icons on the infotainment touchscreen).

Visibility, parking sensors and cameras

The Fabia is much easier to see out of than the Peugeot 208 and Vauxhall Corsa. For starters, the windscreen and middle pillars are much thinner than they are in those rivals, so you have a clearer view out at junctions and roundabouts. 

The rear glass area is larger than on most small cars – including the Renault Clio – making parking easier. All trim levels have rear parking sensors to help you a bit more, and you can pay extra for sensors at the front and a reversing camera as part of the Convenience Package.

Basic LED headlights are fitted to all versions for good visibility at night. Full LED headlights are optional on all except entry-level SE Comfort models.

Skoda Fabia interior dashboard

Sat nav and infotainment

Most Fabias come with an 8.3in infotainment touchscreen that’s slightly better than the set-ups in most small cars. SE L trim gets a larger, 9.2in screen that looks sharp and responds quickly enough to inputs but isn't as good as the VW Polo equivalent. 

All Fabias have wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring, which is especially helpful because only the SE L’s 9.2in system comes with sat-nav.

You also get DAB radio, Bluetooth and a punchy six-speaker stereo. There are USB-C sockets in the front, and for a small charge you'll get a couple more in the back and one under the rear-view mirror (for windscreen-mounted devices). Wireless phone-charging is available as an option.

Quality

The Fabia’s interior is far from plush, but neither is it at all offensive. It's smarter than the Hyundai i20 interior for example, and not far behind the Seat Ibiza and VW Polo – although both those cars do have a soft-touch dashboard (the Fabia's is rock hard).

If you want a small car that’s smarter inside, have a look at the Clio – its interior uses a wider range of soft materials and trim finishers.

SE L trim adds some fabric covered areas, which adds a bit of variety to the surface finishes, but otherwise it’s tad bland (even Colour Edition doesn't add any colour). Top-spec Monte Carlo trim adds some red decorative elements to the dashboard.

Entry-level SE Comfort Fabias have an 8in digital driver display behind the steering wheel, but most versions upgrade this to a 10.3in one that can show a wider range of information.” – George Hill, Staff Writer

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

Front space

The Skoda Fabia offers plenty of space for those sitting in the front. You don't get quite as much as you do in the Honda Jazz but there’s still oodles of head and leg room for anyone over six feet tall. You won’t feel pinched at the sides, either, thanks to the generous width (for the class) between the doors.

There’s storage space to match, including well-sized door bins, trays, cubbies and a massive glovebox. High trim levels also include an umbrella stowed away in the driver’s door.

Rear space

The rear space in the Fabia isn’t quite up to the standards set by the Jazz. It matches the Seat Ibiza though, and is far more accommodating than the back of the Renault Clio.

As long as the front seats are not slid all the way back, you’ll be able to carry two tall rear passengers without any moaning. It’s a tight squeeze for three adults in the back and there's a hump on the floor that hampers leg room for the person in the middle, but three children will fit just fine.

If you need a bit more all-round space, consider the Skoda Kamiq small SUV.

There are some handy touches in the back, including pockets on the backs of the front seats for maps and mobile devices.

Skoda Fabia boot open

Seat folding and flexibility

This is where the Fabia falls behind the Jazz, which rules the roost here thanks to its flip-up rear seat bases that create more storage options.

Skoda gives you 60/40 split folding rear seats, which is par for the course among small cars and isn’t as versatile as the 40/20/40 split in slightly larger – and admittedly more expensive – family cars like the Mercedes A-Class.

If you want sliding rear seats, look at small SUVs such as the VW T-Cross.

Boot space

The Fabia has a 380-litre boot and we managed to fit six carry-on suitcases below the parcel shelf. That's the most we’ve fitted into any small car and is a match for cars from the class above, including the Ford Focus.

Even though the Clio’s official capacity of 391 litres edges ahead of the Fabia, the height of the Fabia’s load area helps it carry one more suitcase.

There are lots of accessories available to add versatility. If you pay extra for the Simply Clever Package 1, you'll get nets to stop items sliding around and clip-on devices to divide up the boot. 

There's a pronounced drop down from the opening to the boot floor, but this can be mitigated by adding an optional height-adjustable boot floor (part of the Simply Clever Package 2) – something you get as standard on the Clio.

“My wife often rides in the back of cars with our daughter, and reckons it can get really stuffy when there aren't rear air vents. Fortunately, these are fitted to higher-spec Fabias.” – Steve Huntingford, Editor

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2

As a cash purchase, the entry-level Skoda Fabia looks good value, undercutting the starting prices of the Peugeot 208 and VW Polo and costing only slightly more than the Vauxhall Corsa.

In fact, even the top-of-the-range Fabia Monte Carlo is only slightly more expensive than the entry-level Toyota Yaris and significantly less than a Honda Jazz. However, the Clio is even cheaper, and can be had with big cash discounts and lower monthly PCP finance payments.

You can check the latest prices using our New Car Deals pages.

The Jazz, Clio, Yaris and Polo will hold on to their value for longer – the Fabia’s depreciation has historically been average for the small car category.

Officially, the Fabia 1.0 TSI 95 can do more than 55mpg, and in our real-world tests it managed 45.7mpg. That's pretty good, and the equivalent Renault Clio TCe 90 proved slightly more frugal when tested on the same day (46.3mpg).

The 208 and Corsa can be had with mild-hybrid tech but cost more so it will take years to recoup the small savings in fuel. The Jazz and Yaris – which are regular hybrids – both deliver even better economy, especially around town.

Equipment, options and extras

There are four trim levels available with the Fabia: SE Comfort, SE L, Colour Edition and Monte Carlo. If you want to keep things cheap, the entry-level SE Comfort trim gives you plenty of standard kit, including alloy wheels, LED headlights, air conditioning and various infotainment features. 

Colour Edition brings visual upgrades, with rear privacy glass, black colour coding on the roof, wheels and door mirror caps, cruise control and electric rear windows.

If you don’t mind spending a bit extra, SE L trim is tempting, because it costs a little more than an entry-level Polo but gives you keyless entry, ambient lighting, a larger 9.2in infotainment touchscreen, sat nav and dual-zone air conditioning.

Top-of-the-range Monte Carlo trim gives everything a sportier edge, introducing 17in alloy wheels into the mix, alongside sportier styling, artificial leather and fabric sports seats and carbon fibre details on the dashboard.

Skoda Fabia infotainment touchscreen

Reliability

Skoda came 16th out of 32 manufacturers in the 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey. That’s a decent showing, and puts the Czech brand above Audi, Ford, Renault, Peugeot, Seat, Vauxhall and Volkswagen.

Who did better? Well, Toyota came out highest among small-car makers, finishing in second place, behind only Lexus. That brand was followed by Hyundai, Suzuki and Kia.

For peace of mind, every Fabia comes with a three-year warranty that has unlimited mileage for the first two years and then a cap of 60,000 miles in the final year. That’s nothing special among small cars – it matches the warranty you get with the Jazz, Ibiza and Polo but doesn’t come close to the five-year unlimited mileage warranty you get with the Hyundai i20 or up to 10 years with a Toyota Yaris.

Safety and security

When it comes to safety, the latest Fabia was awarded five stars out of five when it was tested by Euro NCAP in 2021, so it should do a good job of protecting you and your occupants if an accident proves unavoidable. 

That said, the Polo also claimed five stars and even better ratings in all areas that were tested. The Jazz and Ibiza got five stars too, but were tested in 2020 and 2017 respectively, making it impossible to compare with the Fabia because the tests become more stringent every year.

All Fabias come with automatic emergency braking (AEB), lane-keeping assist, traffic-sign recognition and driver drowsiness detection.

The optional Safety Package is worth considering, because it brings a knee airbag for the driver and rear side airbags.” – Claire Evans, Consumer Editor

 


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FAQs

  • The Fabia is one of the best small cars on sale, offering a spacious interior with a big boot and good value for money.

  • Yes – the Fabia share its engines with the VW Golf and VW Polo.

  • Yes, thanks to a fairly supple ride and lower noise levels than a Seat Ibiza, the Fabia is good on a motorway.

At a glance
New car deals
Save up to £1,299
Target Price from £18,741
Save up to £1,299
or from £193pm
Swipe to see used car deals
Nearly new deals
From £15,000
RRP price range £19,730 - £25,630
Number of trims (see all)4
Number of engines (see all)4
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)petrol
MPG range across all versions 50.9 - 56.2
Available doors options 5
Warranty 3 years / 60000 miles
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £1,051 / £1,471
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £2,101 / £2,941
Available colours