These days the very best modern superminis come with the space, safety and technology to challenge the cars in the class above them. And Skoda’s trusty five-door Fabia is a fine example of that breed. It shares its mechanical underpinnings with the Audi A1, Seat Ibiza and Volkswagen Polo but has a character all of its own.
Skoda launched the Fabia at the end of 2015, giving it a minor nip and tuck facelift for 2019. Even if you can’t get your hands on a post-facelift model, the earlier versions still look great. The Fabia’s chiselled looks and crisply cut lines have aged well.
You may prefer an SE model, though. Unlike the entry-level S, this car comes with smart looking alloy wheels as opposed to the standard plastic wheel covers. The Monte Carlo versions look even more sporting with rally-inspired specs. Although they are a little pricier, of course. All models are 5-door and Skoda also offers an estate version.
The Fabia’s chiselled looks and crisply cut lines have aged well.
What’s it like to drive?
The Skoda Fabia offers a wide choice of engines. If you take your time and consider carefully, like Goldilocks with her bowl of porridge, you’ll find one that’s right for you. The smaller petrol engines are great for town driving and lighter loads. The larger 1.4-litre petrol is a good all-rounder. If you’re going to be pounding up and down the motorways, go for a diesel.
The ride comfort can feel a little firm at low speeds around town, especially on models with large wheels. That’s it, as far as dynamic faults go. You’ll find that the Fabia is comfortable in all other conditions. The steering feels nicely weighted, and the handling is safe, assured and enjoyable.
The smaller petrol engines are great for town driving and lighter loads.
If you think being hailed the King or Queen of Bling is a good thing, maybe the Fabia’s cabin may not be quite right for you. If you prefer your styling to be classic, subtle and tastefully understated, you’ll feel right at home inside the Fabia’s spacious cabin. It may not be as modern-looking or as trendy as some rivals, but it’s robust and solidly put together, and all of the features and controls are effortless to operate.
Choosing an SE model over the entry-level S means you’ll enjoy some decent additional features. These include a 6.5-inch, smartphone-compatible colour screen, air-conditioning and height-adjustable front seats, which along with the adjustable steering column make it easy to find a good driving position.
With its front and rear parking sensors, the SE also helps take the stress out of your day, and Skoda’s city braking technology helps prevent the risk of driving into the car in front, should it stop suddenly. Even if your budget only steps to the S model, safety is still excellent thanks to 6 airbags fitted as standard.
Inside the cabin, you can feel the advantage of the Fabia’s high roofline styling. There’s lots of head and legroom in the front and rear for six-footers. Four adults can travel in comfort, and a short trip could be tolerated by a fifth in the middle of the back row of seats.
The Fabia offers a decent glove box, spacious front door bins and a good size cubby area under the front armrest. Skoda’s designers have also come up with the neat touch of creating stowage areas under the front seats. There’s even a little plastic clip by the front windscreen pillar to store your parking or motorway toll ticket. There’s even a mini ice scraper inside the fuel filler cap.
There’s certainly nothing mini about the Fabia’s boot, though. It’s one of the very best in the class. Big suitcases, buggies, holiday kit and bank holiday BBQ shops can fit with ease. The boot opening space is nice and wide, too. The only annoying thing is that the seats don’t fold down flat.
Running costs and reliability
Competitive insurance rates and good fuel economy contribute to the Fabia’s affordable running costs. Skoda claims around 80mpg for the diesel engines. We all know that isn’t going to happen in real-world driving. You should still get 60mpg with careful driving. Petrol engines should return 45mpg plus without too much difficulty.
What we love
We are big fans of the Skoda’s crisp contemporary styling. It’s by no means the flashiest car in the highly crowded supermini sector, but it looks sophisticated and grown-up. And that’s how it feels to live with. Solidly built, spacious and safe–the Fabia is a great first car for solo drivers, while being able to meet the needs of young families too.
Still looking for the one?
Use our comparison tool to find the car for you
If you like the Skoda Fabia...
Town and country drivers
While the entry-level Fabia may not be lavishly equipped, it is just as spacious as the rest of the range and comes with the safety of six airbags. Practical, stylish, effortless to drive and affordable to run, the Skoda Fabia is one of the best-used superminis you can buy.
This review was