Skoda Fabia: road test

Posted on May 21st, 2015 by James Luckhurst

The Fabia offers friendly driving manners, keen pricing and a compact size.

Skoda Fabia: road test

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What is it?

The Skoda Fabia is a good-value small family hatchback built in the Czech Republic by Volkswagen Group member Skoda. This is the third generation of a well-liked car originally launched 15 years ago.

How safe is it?

It’s a five-star car for safety and the highest-scoring five-door car of its size in Euro NCAP crash testing. It comes with six airbags and SE models have city emergency braking.

Who should buy one?

Anyone budgeting for reasonable roominess, a decently sized boot and civilised driving manners in a hatchback with compact external dimensions. Good for singletons or couples with a young family.

Road test by Sue Baker, published 21 May 2015

 

 

DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE
Skoda Fabia: road test

The Fabia has a very good foundation, with the Volkswagen Group’s acclaimed MQB modular chassis underpinning its structure. It shares this with other VW Group cars, including the latest Golf and Audi A3. It explains why the Fabia has a well-engineered, mature feel to the way it drives. It has classy driving dynamics, and thoroughly likeable manners, combined with brisk performance.

The steering is well-weighted and has a pert directness that gives good feedback about precisely where the wheels are pointing. It is easy enough to haul around tight corners and into parking spaces in town, but is weighty enough not to feel over-light at motorway speed, as some smaller cars can do.

The ride-handling balance has a well-sorted feel, too. Handling is tidy, the car has taut body control without too much lean on the bends, and it feels grippy on a twisty country lane. Ride comfort is generally pretty reasonable for a relatively small, short wheelbase car. It can get caught out by a sudden steep pothole, and jars as you bump across, but mostly the ride quality is adequately cushioning.

Base models with a one-litre petrol engine are modest performers, and best suited to mostly urban use. The 1.2 litre petrol engine is a better bet for all-round driving, with livelier acceleration and more mid-range punch. The expected best-seller is the 1.4 litre, 89bhp diesel with averagely brisk acceleration to 60 mph in around 11 seconds with a manual gearbox. The Fabia is also available with a twin-clutch automatic transmission.

From an efficiency viewpoint, the Fabia looks a good bet. The highest CO2 output across the range is 110g/km, while the lowest is a very frugal 88g/km. That is in the 1.4 diesel version we drove, which also has 83mpg economy.

SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
Skoda Fabia: road test

One of the Fabia’s strong points has always been its good passenger space for a relatively small car, and that continues in this latest model. Although it is not quite four metres long, it does feel quite roomy inside.

The Fabia is now actually a tiny amount smaller than before, at eight mm shorter in length than the previous model, but it is wider by a similar amount, so the available space is about the same. That extra width has allowed the boot aperture to be widened slightly, and the size of the boot has gone up too by 15 litres to 330 litres.

With the rear seats folded down, there is a total cargo capacity of 1,150 litres, which is pretty good in a car this size, and beats most of its rivals with similar external dimensions.

There are some nice practical touches, such as the dedicated slot in the driver’s door for a high-visibility jacket, and the car’s own on-board ice-scraper housed inside the fuel filler cap.

SAFETY
Skoda Fabia: road test

Not only did the Fabia score five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests, it did so with a higher overall score than similar-size rival models. On all but the base S version, the Fabia comes equipped with an Inter-Urban safety system, comprising forward collision warning and a city emergency braking function. This guards against the risk of running into the car in front when there are sudden stops in urban traffic.

EQUIPMENT
Skoda Fabia: road test

Every Fabia comes equipped with six airbags, a five-inch touchscreen infotainment interface with SD card and USB, both DAB and Bluetooth, stop-start, electric front windows, bottle holders in all four doors, and its own ice-scraper. With most-popular SE trim you also get air conditioning, alloy wheels, acoustic rear parking sensors and front assistant with city emergency braking, while top-spec SE L trim includes LED lights, a multi-function steering wheel, cruise control and keyless entry.

COSTS

Skoda Fabia: road test

There are 18 models in the Fabia range. Prices start from £10,600 and rise to £15,890 for petrol-engined cars, and diesels are from £14,090 up to £17,240. Every version is either in band A or B for Vehicle Excise Duty, meaning a free first year and a maximum £20 a year thereafter. The Fabia is good value as a company car too, with low rates of Benefit-In-Kind taxation.

WE SAY

We say:
The Fabia offers friendly driving manners, keen pricing and a compact size.

AT A GLANCE:
Price: £16,240
Performance: 0-60mph in 11.1 seconds
Economy: 83.1mpg combined
Insurance: Group 11
Tax: Band A (£0 first year)

Figures for the Fabia SE L 1.4 TDI 90