Skoda Fabia hatchback review
"A size increase serves the Skoda Fabia well, making it an ideal supermini for families"
The Skoda Fabia has been a huge success, with more than 4.5 million finding homes around the world since it launched around two decades ago. Customers appreciated the affordable running costs, space and sturdy build quality. It wasn't lost on anyone that the Fabia was closely based on the classy Volkswagen Polo, just as it is today.
It has taken quite a while for the latest Fabia to arrive, however, finally using the same underpinnings as the Polo and SEAT Ibiza as those two cars get a midlife facelift. The result is a significant size increase, and access to much more modern infotainment and safety technology.
Skoda has become synonymous with practicality, and there's no sign of a change in approach, with the Fabia now boasting a 380-litre boot, which is way bigger than the Ford Fiesta and matching cars from the class above. Not only that but there's more space for passengers and child seats, giving the supermini more versatility than ever.
As features continue to trickle down from bigger models, the Fabia feels increasingly upmarket. Four trim levels are available called S, SE Comfort, Colour Edition and the flagship SE L. All models are well equipped with standard LED headlights and tail lights, while the higher models get ‘big car’ features such as a heated steering wheel and a panoramic sunroof. Infotainment is taken care of by a central touchscreen measuring up to 9.2-inches in size, while digital instruments can also be chosen to replace the standard analogue gauges.
One area where the Fabia perhaps isn't quite as advanced as rivals is under the bonnet. Most buyers will get a 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine that can manage around 50mpg but there's no hybrid or even mild-hybrid assistance. Buyers can spec this engine in a variety of power outputs from the basic MPI versions with 64bhp to 84bhp, or a more powerful TSI variant with either 94bhp or 108 bhp. Entry-level engines get a five-speed manual gearbox, with the most potent getting a choice of a six-speed manual or a DSG automatic. A more powerful 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine is also scheduled to arrive after launch. With 148bhp, it’ll be the quickest Fabia offered when it goes on sale.
This isn't to say the Fabia will be expensive to run but those seeking innovation or a cheap company-car might prefer the Toyota Yaris or Renault Clio E-Tech, which can run on electric power for at least some of the time.
The new Fabia is better to drive than the old one but Skoda engineers have also chosen to make the Skoda's suspension softer than the Fiesta or Ibiza. It's not as sporty as a result but it rides very well and feels relaxed over long distances.