Skoda Fabia estate (2007-2014)
"The Fabia estate offers big-car practicaility in a small package."
- Large boot
- Wide engine range
- Inexpensive to buy and run
- Styling not to everyone’s taste
- Entry-level model is too basic
- Diesels can be noisy
Like all modern Skodas, the Skoda Fabia Estate benefits from a range of Volkswagen parts but still comes cheaper than its VW equivalent. You also get more space, as the Volkswagen Polo cannot currently be had as an estate.
One of the benefits of sharing components with VW is that the Fabia’s interior is both smart and robust enough to stand up to the rigours of family life. The 505-litre boot is very impressive and is more than 380 litres you get in a Volkswagen Golf, which is in a bigger class of car.
Running costs are also low, especially in the GreenLine model, which qualifies for road tax exemption and is capable of more than 80mpg. You can also spec your Fabia Estate in vRS trim, which gives the car a 178bhp engine with plenty of performance for overtaking.
Basic models do without air-conditioning, but do get electric windows and remote central locking. The Monte Carlo version has proven popular because it gets equipment such as air conditioning but also has a body kit that gives it the look of the sporty vRS model without the higher running costs.
MPG, running costs & CO2
If you want cheap running costs then the Skoda Fabia GreenLine II is the model to go for. It qualifies for free road tax and can return more than 83mpg, although it does feel sluggish. The quick vRS model is still capable 45.6mpg, but the 1.2-litre 105 petrol achieves a better balance between economy and performance, doing 53.3mpg with road tax of £110 per year.
Running costs should be very manageable, and Skoda offers a £479 service plan that covers the car’s maintenance for three years or 30,000 miles and transfers to the new owner if you sell the car before it expires.
Engines, drive & performance
The beauty of the Fabia Estate is that it offers a good-size loadbay in what feels like a small and easy to manoeuvre car, which makes it perfect for negotiating tight city streets and parking in small spaces. Basic models get soft suspension that does a good job of soaking up bumps in the road, and the steering is light and accurate.
The more powerful 1.2-litre engine offers the best compromise between performance and economy, and means the Fabia is good fun to drive, although the GreenLine II is the model to have for low running costs. The 1.4-litre Fabia vRS has 178bhp, feels quick, and is the best model for having fun on a country road but it only comes with Skoda’s six-speed DSG automatic gearbox, which might not suit some driving enthusiasts.
Interior & comfort
Although the GreenLine II model is very frugal, you may want to give it a miss if you value a quiet interior. Its low power means you have to work the engine quite hard and plenty of noise makes its way into the cabin. The same can also be said of the basic three-cylinder petrol engine in the entry-level 1.2 litre models.
Getting a comfortable driving position should be easy thanks to a steering wheel that offers a decent amount of adjustment and a driver’s seat that does the same. Some models come equipped with a front-centre armrest, which we found does get in the way when changing gear.
Practicality & boot space
With a 505-litre boot, the Fabia Estate offers a huge load-bay for a car that sits in the supermini class and it compares favourably to the Fabia hatchback’s 315-litre boot. Although the estate’s boot has a little lip, which makes sliding in heavy items a bit awkward, the boot opening is quite wide and the tumbling seat design means that the rear seats also fold flat. Maximum capacity is an impressive 1,485 litres.
Even in the rear the Skoda offers enough room for all but the tallest passengers, but a Dacia Logan MCV offers even more space. If you’ll regularly be taking three adults in the back, it is also worth noting that Skoda will charge you an extra £75 for a third rear headrest. As with the hatchback, the Skoda Fabia Estate offers plenty of useful cubbyholes throughout the cabin.
Reliability & safety
It is a surprise to see a Skoda perform badly in our 2014 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey – the manufacturer’s models took up the top three positions in this year’s survey – but the Fabia finished in a disappointing 94th place out of 150 models, a 30-place drop from last year. That could reflect the fact that the model is quite old now, with a new version due to be revealed later this year. The current Fabia did score relatively well in areas such as practicality and running costs, but even these areas scored closer to mid-table.
The car’s older design is also reflected in its four-star safety rating from Euro NCAP - although it gets six airbags and seatbelt pre-tensioners, it was marked down for having inadequate warning for the dangers of fitting child seats in the front seat next to the airbag.
Price, value for money & options
Skoda’s old reputation is well and truly a thing of the past and that’s reflected in second hand values that are a match for most of the opposition.
Although basic S models don’t get air conditioning, they do come with electric windows and central locking. To get air-con you’ll need to go for the next-level up SE model. The sporty vRS model gets sharper looks inside and out thanks to a body kit, large alloy wheels and sports seats.