The 1.0-litre petrol engines that kick off the range are adequate around town, but the larger petrol engines, particularly the 1.2 TSI 90, are better suited to faster roads. In fact, the 1.2 TSI 90 is so good it renders the more powerful 1.2 TSI 110 engine redundant.
Then there’s a trio of 1.4 diesels. The 1.4 TDI 75 is best avoided due to a general lack of grunt. The more powerful versions, on the other hand, are worth a look if you do a lot of miles and crave exceptional fuel economy. Both the 90 and 105 versions are really strong at low revs, but they quickly run out of puff as the revs rise, so you have to change gear more often than you might imagine.
Skoda Fabia ride comfort
Ride quality is a mixed bag with all Fabias. In town, on broken surfaces and potholes, the Fabia fails to ever completely settle down and jostles its occupants around a bit – particularly if you choose a model with big alloys. It's never too uncomfortable, but the Ford Fiesta is that bit smoother at low speeds.
However, start to pick up speed and the Fabia's ride improves considerably. On the motorway, vertical body movements are well controlled, while bumps and expansion joints are smoothed well. As a result, the Fabia feels stable and composed.
Skoda Fabia handling
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, the Fabia is far from boring; its steering is well weighted and reasonably communicative, so you always know what the front tyres are up to.
There's also plenty of grip and while the Fabia tends to 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 Monte Carlo models, but this is best avoided because it does little to improve the handling and makes the ride slightly firmer.
The Fabia also impresses for low-speed manoeuvrability. Its steering is light enough to make stationary, lock-to-lock turns a breeze, and the turning circle is tight enough to make it easy to squeeze into tight parking spaces.
Skoda Fabia refinement
The Fabia's suspension has a habit of thudding noisily as you drive over ridges and potholes, particularly on versions with the bigger alloy wheels. There's some road and wind noise at motorway speeds, too, although no more than in the majority of small cars.
Beyond that, how quiet – or noisy – a Fabia is very much depends on which engine you opt for. The three-cylinder 1.0 petrols send some vibration through the pedals and steering wheel when worked hard, but the diesels are much noisier and particularly raucous when revved. The four-cylinder 1.2 petrols are easily the smoothest and most subdued engines in the Fabia range.
Meanwhile, the manual gearbox has a light but precise action, and the optional DSG automatic gearbox changes gears smoothly when you're on the move, although it can be a bit jerky in stop-start traffic or when parking.
This petrol engine is lively enough around town but struggles anywhere else. Only available with a five-speed manual gearbox.
A little more power but this petrol engine still struggles in fast-moving traffic. Claimed economy is an impressive 58.9mpg, and it produces very low CO2 emissions.
Our pick 1.2 TSI 90
Punchy, refined and frugal – this is the engine to go for if you're after a petrol. Again, there’s no automatic version.
1.2 TSI 110
This petrol engine’s saving grace is the fact that it’s available with an optional seven-speed automatic gearbox. If you're happy with a manual 'box, though, we'd stick with the cheaper 1.2 TSI 90 engine.
1.4 TDI 75
The least powerful diesel in the range is also the least commendable. It doesn’t have enough grunt for relaxed progress, so we’d advise going for the 1.4 TDI 90 instead, which in the main, does.
1.4 TDI 90
This is the best diesel engine in the line-up and the only one with the option of an automatic gearbox. However, it’s more expensive and noisier than our favourite engine, the 1.2 TSI petrol, so unless you cover a high mileage (over 15,000 miles a year) or you're a company car driver looking for uber-low CO2 emissions, it's best avoided.
1.4 TDI 105
Rather like the most powerful petrol engine, the case for this most powerful diesel is weakened by its lower-powered relative, the 1.4 TDI 90. However, we’d choose the 1.2 TSI 90 petrol over both, unless your annual mileage is high.