Skoda Fabia hatchback
Price £10,750 - £18,025
- Generous standard equipment
- Very spacious for a supermini
- Large, well-shaped boot
- No longer as good value as it was
- 1.0-litre engine not strong enough
- Some rivals are better to drive
At a glance
“The Skoda Fabia is a competent, practical and spacious supermini that prioritises comfort over driver involvement.”
Since the first generation went on sale in 1999, the Skoda Fabia has been quietly carving out a niche for itself as a spacious, practical and comfortable supermini, and has attracted a loyal following as a result. While the Fabia doesn’t do anything spectacularly well, it's a nicely rounded car that's competent in every area.
While the Kia Rio has a longer warranty and the Ford Fiesta is better to drive, the Fabia's focus on day-to-day usability means it's an easy car to recommend – although if you want more style, a Renault Clio may suit you better, while the Audi A1 is a more desirable car.
Because Skoda has continued to improve its image over the years, the Fabia isn’t quite the bargain it once was. It's still competitively priced, though, and offers a decent amount of standard equipment, particularly if you avoid the entry-level S version. The Fabia also benefits from an excellent range of modern, efficient engines that also feature in the Volkswagen Polo and SEAT Ibiza – superminis you may also want to consider if you’re thinking of a Fabia. Skoda also makes the Fabia Estate, which we’ve reviewed separately.
If you mainly do short journeys or don’t cover a huge number of miles annually, we recommend a petrol-powered Fabia. While the 59 and 73bhp 1.0-litre engines are best avoided due to their relative lack of power, the turbocharged 1.2-litre petrol is much better, and can be ordered with either 89 or 108bhp.
The 89bhp model returns 60.1mpg and costs just £20 a year to tax thanks to its low CO2 emissions, while the 108bhp 1.2-litre petrol is only about £600 more than the 89bhp model. We recommend the more powerful petrol, as it costs the same to tax and still manages 58.9mpg, while its 0-62mph time of 9.4 seconds means it's considerably nippier than the less powerful option.
If you cover more than about 12,000 miles a year, a diesel Fabia makes more sense. The 1.4-litre diesel is available with either 89 or 104bhp, and again we’d recommend the more powerful model – although it's only available on the higher trim levels. Both diesels return 78.5mpg and are road-tax-exempt, thanks to their low CO2 emissions, while the 104bhp model is liable for just 17% Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) tax – good news for company car drivers.
Aside from the limited-edition Colour model, the Fabia comes in four trim levels, starting with S and rising through SE, SE L and Monte Carlo. The entry-level S model has power-adjustable heated mirrors, DAB digital radio and Bluetooth phone connectivity. We recommend the SE model, as this adds an upgraded stereo, alloy wheels, air-conditioning and MirrorLink, which allows you to control your mobile phone's apps – including navigation – from the car's touchscreen.
SE L trim costs about £800 more than the SE, which seems quite a lot considering it only adds keyless ignition, cruise control and LED daytime running lights. The top-spec Monte Carlo edition comes with a panoramic roof and black alloy wheels, but we found its firm suspension makes the Fabia uncomfortable over poor road surfaces.
While the Fabia is too new a model to have featured in our 2015 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, Skoda as a brand has an excellent reputation for reliability, with owners reporting their cars are reliable, cheap to run and easy to drive. The Fabia is also a very safe car, with all models getting a host of airbags, anti-lock brakes, traction control, stability control, two rear ISOFIX child-seat mounts and a tyre-pressure monitoring system. These safety features helped the Fabia score the full five stars in its Euro NCAP safety tests.
Every Skoda Fabia model is cheap to run, with the diesel engines capable of almost 80mpg
The Skoda Fabia still trails the Ford Fiesta for outright driver enjoyment, but it feels stable at high speeds and quiet around town
There’s no denying this Skoda Fabia is a step up from its predecessor, but it lacks some of the soft-touch plastics seen in rivals
The Skoda Fabia is an extremely practical supermini, offering more boot space than a Ford Focus
This Skoda Fabia should follow in the footsteps of the rest of the range, with top-notch owner satisfaction and a five-star safety rating