Skoda Fabia hatchback - Engines, drive & performance

The small Skoda offers a reassuring big-car feel

Carbuyer Rating

4.0 out of 5

Owners Rating
Be the first to review
Price
£19,700 - £25,600

While the outgoing Fabia soldiered on with parts from much older cars, the latest model now gets newer technology and a significant size increase. It's especially noticeable how much wider it is and this improves stability, which has always been a Fabia trademark. Now it feels even more solid and secure, and does a good job of convincing you it's a larger car from the driver's seat.

We wouldn't go so far as to call it sporty because the Fabia still feels more focused on comfort than the Hyundai i20. Instead, its steering feels more natural and it has a level of polish that moves it much closer to the Volkswagen Polo and Renault Clio.

Skoda Fabia petrol engines

Skoda only offers the Fabia with front-wheel-drive and petrol power, however, there are three different engines to choose from. The range-topping 1.5-litre powertrain is only available on Monte Carlo and produces a potent 148bhp. While this is no match for the likes of the Volkswagen Polo GTI, the Fabia Monte Carlo feels relatively brisk. Unlike the rest of the Fabia range, this model is only available with a seven-speed DSG gearbox; getting from 0-62mph takes around eight seconds.

The mid-range turbocharged 1.0-litre TSI is familiar to anyone who has driven any small Volkswagen Group cars over the last few years. This is available in 94bhp and 108bhp outputs, with the latter taking 10 seconds to get from 0-62mph. Both engines can be specified with either a six-speed manual or the aforementioned DSG automatic; the DSG can be slow to respond at times, and acceleration is often accompanied by an obtrusive grunt from the engine.

During normal driving, the engine is far quieter at low revs, with a smooth and subdued character. It’s impressive at motorway speeds, where the engine noise is barely noticeable over road noise, which can be quite loud at times. For most drivers, we expect the slick manual gearbox will provide a more satisfying driving experience over the DSG automatic.

It’s also very comfortable for a supermini, with a softer ride that makes it relaxing to drive. The handling is fairly neutral too, with a numb steering feel meaning the Fabia lacks the fun factor or driver involvement possessed by rivals such as Ford Fiesta or Renault Clio. However, regardless of the lack of fun, the Fabia offers precise and secure handling for a supermini.

Unless you're a young driver who needs the lowest possible insurance group, or you only occasionally leave the town and suburbs, we'd avoid the 1.0-litre MPI engine. While its 79bhp might not sound too far off the 94bhp of the cheapest TSI engine, the lack of a turbocharger means it has around half the pulling power. This gives it a 0-62mph time of 15.6 seconds (versus 10.7 for the 94bhp TSI engine) and it feels like harder work to drive as a result, with overtakes requiring serious planning. While its short gearing and slick manual gearbox mean even the MPI can feel perfectly adequate in urban settings, we found it is especially sensitive to hills, which almost always require shifting into a lower gear to maintain momentum.

Which Is Best?

Cheapest

  • Name
    1.0 MPI S 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £14,460

Most Economical

  • Name
    1.0 MPI S 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £14,460

Fastest

  • Name
    1.5 TSI 150 Colour Edition 5dr DSG
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £23,410

Andy is Carbuyer's managing editor, with more than a decade of experience helping consumers find their perfect car. He has an MA in automotive journalism and has tested hundreds of vehicles.

Recommended

Skoda Fabia review - a great-value, practical supermini
Carbuyer best small car Skoda Fabia
In-depth reviews
1 Feb 2024

Skoda Fabia review - a great-value, practical supermini

Top 10 best used small cars 2024
The best used small cars hero 2023
Best cars
2 Jan 2024

Top 10 best used small cars 2024

Top 10 best first cars for new drivers 2024
The best first cars 2023
Best cars
2 Jan 2024

Top 10 best first cars for new drivers 2024

Skoda Fabia hatchback - Reliability & safety
Skoda Fabia hatchback
In-depth reviews
11 Sep 2023

Skoda Fabia hatchback - Reliability & safety

Most Popular

Hot car deal: sporty Skoda Octavia vRS Estate for £278 a month
octavia vrs hot deal
Deals
19 Feb 2024

Hot car deal: sporty Skoda Octavia vRS Estate for £278 a month

Best new car deals 2024: this week’s top car offers
Carbuyer best new car deals hero
Deals
23 Feb 2024

Best new car deals 2024: this week’s top car offers

Hot car deal: racy Cupra Ateca SUV for just £234 a month
cupra ateca
Deals
16 Feb 2024

Hot car deal: racy Cupra Ateca SUV for just £234 a month

Tips & advice

View All
Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide
Car dashboard symbols and meanings
Tips and advice
19 Dec 2023

Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide
Public EV charge point
Tips and advice
11 Jan 2023

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?
PCP vs HP
Tips and advice
17 May 2022

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?

Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Tips and advice
12 Apr 2023

Average speed cameras: how do they work?

Best cars

View All
Top 10 best car interiors
Peugeot 208 hatchback
Best cars
25 Jun 2021

Top 10 best car interiors

Top 10 best electric cars 2024
The best electric cars 2023
Best cars
2 Jan 2024

Top 10 best electric cars 2024

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2024
The best cheap-to-run cars 2023
Best cars
2 Jan 2024

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2024

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks 2024
Fastest hot hatchbacks hero
Best cars
2 Jan 2024

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks 2024