What's the used Skoda Fabia hatchback like?
Our opinion of the Skoda Fabia has never been kept under wraps. This third-gen version is a previous What Car? Car of the Year winner, then it became our Used Small Car of the Year 2021. Both new and used, we think very highly of it.
Why? Well, first off, its engine range is strong and varied. The small car is available with a non-turbo 1.0-litre petrol unit putting out either 59bhp or 74bhp (depending on your chosen variant). You also have two turbocharged 1.0-litre petrol units of 94bhp and 109bhp, and a further two turbo petrols of 1.2-litres producing either 89bhp or 109bhp. There’s also a trio of 1.4-litre diesels in 74bhp, 89bhp and 103bhp flavours, each of which can return excellent fuel economy if you clock up lots of motorway miles.
Trims range from S, which is a little too basic for our tastes, through to SE, which is our pick and offers such niceties as alloy wheels, air-con, rear parking sensors and a 6.5in colour touchscreen featuring Skoda’s Smartlink sat-nav, up to the sportier-looking Monte Carlo and increasingly more opulent SE L, with its climate control, cruise control and keyless start.
- Looking for an older car? Read our 2007-2014 Skoda Fabia and 2000-2007 Skoda Fabia used buying guides
Whichever version you choose, the Fabia is good to drive, surprisingly refined and very comfortable. The basic non-turbo 1.0-litre engine is adequate around town, but we'd seek out one of the turbocharged petrol models; these have more get up and go for motorway use. The diesel options all have plenty of low-down grunt, but aren't quite as smooth and refined as the petrol engined-cars.
Around town, the Fabia's ride can be a bit unsettled, but at higher speeds things settle down and it all becomes much more composed. In corners, the Fabia steers well, and there's plenty of grip, and it handles in a secure and competent fashion. Overall refinement is good, with low levels of both wind and road noise.
Inside, there's an excellent driving position, with good visibility, and the dashboard and surrounding areas are all laid out in a logical fashion. The 6.5in touchscreen is clear and easy to use, too. Space-wise, there's more than enough up front, and generous amounts of leg and head room in the rear, at least for two; three is a little bit of a squeeze. The boot is a competitive size, too, and is usefully square in shape. However, fold the rear seats flat and there is a noticeable step in the boot floor.
All in, though, the Fabia is a great car, and it should be fairly light on your pocket, too, with some excellent buys appearing on the used car forecourts.
Advice for buyers
What should I look for in a used Skoda Fabia hatchback?
The Fabia is a solidly built car, so most of your concerns will surround whether the interior is clean and tidy and that the alloy wheels, if specified, haven’t suffered any kerb damage. Its most likely use will have been as a town car, so check the bodywork for minor scuffs.
Owners reported problems with the seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox of earlier cars; it could be overly jerky when shifting. Some also found it difficult to utilise the Mirrorlink system on the car’s infotainment system. In our most recent reliability survey, the Fabia scored well on brake, tyre, windscreen wiper and headlight bulb wear, all being below the class average.
When it was initially safety tested by Euro NCAP, the Fabia was awarded the maximum five-star rating.
What are the most common problems with a used Skoda Fabia hatchback?
A recall concerns the driver's side airbag of Fabias made between 8 January and 28 February 2018; it may not deploy fast enough. Speak with your Skoda dealer to find out if your car is affected. It will need to have a replacement airbag unit fitted to solve the issue.
Is a used Skoda Fabia hatchback reliable?
In our latest What Car? Reliability Survey, the Fabia ranked 21st out of 28 cars in the small car class. This isn't too confidence inspiring, but it isn't ruinous either. Skoda as a brand came 13th out of 32 manufacturers featured.
If you would like to see the full reliability list, head to the What Car? Reliability Survey pages for more information.
What used Skoda Fabia hatchback will I get for my budget?
Used examples of the Fabia represent good value. Prices for this generation start at around £5000 for an early example with plenty of miles on it. However, we'd suggest you spend £6000 to £7000 or more to get a 2015 or 2016 example in SE specification with an average number of miles. Step up to the £8000 mark and you’ll find plenty of 2017 and 2018 1.0-litre SE models from a franchised dealer, with a full history and often lower-than-average miles. Meanwhile, £10,000 should secure you a good facelifted 2019 or end-of-line 2020 into 2021 model.
Check the value of a used Skoda Fabia with What Car? Valuations
How much does it cost to run a Skoda Fabia hatchback?
Choose one of the older diesels if maximum fuel economy is what you need; the 89bhp 1.4-litre has a combined figure of 78.6mpg under the older NEDC tests.
Most will be well served by one of the turbocharged 1.0 or 1.2-litre petrols. Those looking at earlier models will end up with the 1.2, which gets a figure of 60.1mpg in 89bhp form under the older NEDC tests; later 94bhp 1.0-litre engines do a little better at 65.7mpg, or 52.3mpg under the newer and more realistic WLTP tests.
All diesel engines and the 89bhp version of the 1.0-litre petrol sneak under the 100g/km threshold for free road tax. The more powerful 109bhp 1.0-litre emits 105g/km, followed by the non-turbo 59bhp 1.0-litre at 106g/km. Even the older and larger 1.2-litre petrol isn't that polluting, with figures such as 107g/km for the 89bhp version and 110g/km for the 109bhp model.
Annual road tax (VED) for cars registered before the tax changes of April 2017 came into force will be based on CO2 emissions, while those registered after that date will be charged at the flat rate, which currently stands at £180 per year.
Servicing costs are moderate for most examples, and you can arrange a fixed-price servicing plan. Maintenance alternates between interim and major services every year or 10,000 miles. An interim service costs £159 and a major one £249.
Insuring the Fabia won’t cost a fortune, either, with insurance groups starting from group one for the least powerful 1.0-litre engine. Add a turbo to that engine and the ratings jump to eight for the 94bhp version, or 11 for the 109bhp. The 89bhp 1.4-litre diesel is group 10.
Which used Skoda Fabia hatchback should I buy?
At the launch of this generation of Fabia, Skoda offered two turbocharged 1.2-litre engines, one of 89bhp and the other of 109bhp; our preferred version is the lower-powered variant. However, this was replaced in 2017 with the smaller but slightly more powerful engine known as the 1.0 TSI 95, which is certainly quick enough and very economical. It's the one to go for if you can afford it.
The base S trim is a little too basic, so we'd suggest you go for an SE trim car instead.
A facelift in 2019 brought one or two minor cosmetic and trim updates, but the 1.0-litre SE continues to be our favourite of these later cars.
Our favourite Skoda Fabia: 1.0 TSI 95 SE
What alternatives should I consider to a used Skoda Fabia hatchback?
The main rival for the Fabia in this class is the Ford Fiesta, which is one of the best-selling cars on the UK’s roads. It has always been a cut above its rivals to drive, with peppy engines and delightful steering and handling. It’s comfortable, too, with a smart, well-equipped interior, and it comes loaded with safety technology. It’s pricier than the Fabia, though, and it’s not quite as practical.
The other main rivals both hail, like the Fabia, from the Volkswagen Group: the Seat Ibiza and the VW Polo. The Ibiza is both great to drive and remarkably spacious. It’s efficient, too, and has no major weakness in any area.
The Polo has a deserved reputation for taking all the good qualities of that evergreen car, the VW Golf, and compressing them down into a small car. It’s a well-built and entirely logical car, with a good range of engines and trims and, despite it having a higher purchase price than the Fabia’s, there are still some good used cars to look out for.