Costs & verdict
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2
The Fabia excels here, proving to be extremely competitively priced against its rivals. Our favoured SE trim level is priced between an equivalently equipped Dacia Sandero – a car that is far inferior to the Fabia – and the pricier but ultimately better Volkswagen Polo.
Sell after three years and the Fabia will be worth less than an equivalent Polo or Seat Ibiza, but the fact that it's cheaper to start with – helped by reasonable dealer discounts – means you'll actually lose less money in depreciation.
There isn’t a particularly poor performer in the Fabia’s exclusively petrol line-up for emissions and fuel economy. However, company car drivers will want to consider the 1.0 TSI 95, which emits a reasonable 103g/km of CO2, while private buyers will enjoy that engine's impressive claimed fuel economy.
Equipment, options and extras
Entry-level S trim misses out on some kit most people would consider the norm these days, such as air conditioning and alloy wheels. A glance at the equipment list confirms why SE makes more sense. Alloy wheels, air-con and a leather steering wheel and gearlever all feature. It actually makes the range-topping SE L seem a bit unnecessary.
Colour Edition models are based on the SE spec, but only really add cruise control to the kit list; the other changes are purely cosmetic. Still, it doesn’t cost too much extra, so is worth considering if you want more individual looks. Changes to Monte Carlo models are also cosmetic, but these cost quite a bit more. They are by far the sportiest-looking Fabias, although they don't have any more power.
Some options worth having include metallic paint and a front centre armrest. If you feel like spoiling yourself and brightening up that functional interior, a panoramic glass sunroof is also available (standard on Monte Carlo), but be aware that this does impact on rear head room.
The Fabia was one of the most reliable small cars that featured in the 2019 What Car? Reliability Survey, proving more dependable than the Fiesta, Polo and Ibiza. The Jazz and Yaris were even more reliable, though.
Meanwhile, Skoda as a brand finished a very respectable ninth (out of 31 manufacturers) in the overall league table.
A three-year warranty limited to 60,000 miles comes as standard with every Skoda. That’s typical of most car makers, but not as good as Hyundai’s five years or Kia’s seven years.
Safety and security
All Fabias come with six airbags, a tyre pressure monitoring system and Isofix child seat fixings on the outer rear seats. An engine immobiliser is standard, too, although you'll need to upgrade to at least SE trim for an alarm.
The Fabia also gets automatic emergency braking (AEB) as standard; a system that's designed to perform an emergency stop if it senses that you're about to slam into the car in front. From SE trim and up, you can also add blindspot monitoring and a driver fatigue alert system that warns the driver if he or she is becoming drowsy.
Although the Fabia has been appraised for safety by Euro NCAP, this was way back in 2014 at a time when the tests were far less stringent than they are today. As such, it's hard to draw comparisons with more modern rivals, such as the Fiesta and Polo.
Lots of safety kit, but underwhelming in other areas
The Suzuki Swift has tidy handling and a strong turbo engine...
The Seat Ibiza is one of the very best small cars; it really h...
One of the best small cars you can buy