In-depth reviews

Skoda Fabia hatchback - Engines, drive & performance

The small Skoda offers a reassuring big-car feel

Carbuyer Rating

4.3 out of 5

Owners Rating

4.2 out of 5

Read owner reviews
Engines, drive & performance Rating

4.0 out of 5

While the outgoing Fabia has been soldiering on with older underpinnings, 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 Ford Fiesta. 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

So far, we've driven the Fabia with the 108bhp 1.0-litre TSI petrol engine with the standard six-speed manual and the optional DSG automatic seven-speed gearbox. Until the 1.5-litre engine arrives, this is the range-topping combination. In every Fabia, power is sent to the front wheels only.

The turbocharged 1.0-litre is a familiar engine and with 0-62mph taking just 10.0 seconds, it has the ability to serve up fairly decent acceleration for its class. However, some of its foibles remain in the latest Fabia, including some hesitation from the DSG gearbox when you ask for bursts of acceleration and a rather gruff engine sound at the same time.

During normal driving, the engine is far quieter at low revs, with a smooth and subdued character. This is noticeable 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 never plan to leave town, we'd avoid the 1.0-litre MPI engine. While its 84bhp might not sound too far off the 94bhp of the cheapest TSI engine, the lack of a turbo means it has around half the torque. This gives it a 0-62mph time of 15.3 seconds (versus 10.9 for the TSI engine) and it feels like harder work to drive as a result, with overtakes requiring serious planning. Beneath this, a 64bhp version of the MPI engine is also available and it’s best reserved for town driving and shorter journeys only.

Due after the Fabia's launch, the four-cylinder 1.5-litre TSI with 148bhp should offer another step up in performance, getting the supermini from 0-62mph in around 7.9 seconds. This will come with a DSG automatic transmission as standard.

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