Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
The 59bhp 1.0-litre MPI petrol engine that kicks off the range is just about adequate around town, but you’ll find its shortage of oomph frustrating on faster roads.
That's why you're better off spending a bit extra on the 1.0 TSI turbocharged petrol. It has loads more low-rev pull, so is better suited to B-roads and motorways, and generally makes for a more relaxed driving experience.
Suspension and ride comfort
Ride quality is a mixed bag. In town, on broken surfaces and potholes, the Fabia jostles its occupants around a bit – particularly if you choose a trim level with big alloy wheels. It's never too uncomfortable, but the Ford Fiesta and VW Polo are noticeably smoother.
However, start to pick up speed and the Fabia's ride improves. On the motorway, it's actually fairly composed, although it does take a while to recompose itself after encountering dips and crests.
The benchmark for handling in this class is the Ford Fiesta and, like so many of its rivals, the Fabia can’t match it. That said, it's far from boring through corners; its steering is light but reasonably communicative, so you always know what the front tyres are up to.
There's also plenty of grip and, while the Fabia does lean a little when you start to press on, you can still corner quickly without worrying about sliding off the road. Sports suspension is an option on SE L and Monte Carlo models, but this is best avoided because it does little to improve the handling and makes the ride firmer.
The Fabia also impresses for low-speed manoeuvrability. Its light steering makes stationary, lock-to-lock turns a breeze, while the turning circle is tight enough to make it easy to squeeze into tight parking spaces.
Noise and vibration
The suspension has a habit of thudding noisily as you drive over ridges and potholes, particularly on versions with bigger wheels. There's some road and wind noise at motorway speeds, too, although no more than in the majority of small cars.
Beyond that, the three-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol engines send some vibration through the pedals and steering wheel when worked hard.
Meanwhile, the Fabia's manual gearbox has a ridiculously light action, yet it's not quite as precise as the shift in a Fiesta or Ibiza.