What the Fabia lacks in driving panache and, arguably, style, it more than makes up for in comfort, practicality and value. The 2018 facelift to this model, which has been around since 2014, is minimal, but it keeps the Fabia up-to-date against newer rivals and means that overall it’s still one of the best small hatchbacks around.
Skoda is widely recognised as a value brand and when you compare the Fabia with the cars it shares its foundations and engines with that rings true. Compare with the Volkswagen Polo on which it’s based the entry level Fabia is a big chunk cheaper, even with a more powerful engine. In most other areas, such as servicing and maintenance, fuel economy and resale value, it’s on a par with its rivals, which overall means those choosing a Fabia shouldn’t be worried that they’ve made a financially unwise decision. Models with the least powerful engine are also very cheap to insure, which will be attractive for younger drivers.
Expert rating: 4/5
Reliability of a Skoda Fabia
Skoda has a very good reputation for reliability and sits in the top half of Warranty Direct’s Reliability Index in the overall manufacturer ratings. Their data for the Fabia, specifically, refers to an older model, but it too gets a good mark. The respected JD Power Vehicle Dependability Study has even better news, Skoda near the very top of the ratings. In both studies Skoda ranks much higher than its Volkswagen parent company and higher also than its SEAT sister brand, which is impressive given the Fabia uses many common parts. All this means that we’re confident that the new Fabia shouldn’t cause owners too many problems.
Expert rating: 5/5
Safety for a Skoda Fabia
All models of the latest Fabia get Skoda’s Front Assist automatic emergency braking, which will intervene if you don’t react to an impending accident. There are six airbags and two Isofix child seat mounting points in the back. Other new safety systems are available on the updated Fabia, but you’ll have to pay for them. These include Blind Spot Detection, which will keep an electronic eye out for cars lurking in your periphery, and Rear Traffic Alert, which lets you know of approaching vehicles when reversing out of a blind space.
Expert rating: 4/5
How comfortable is the Skoda Fabia
If you’re expecting a sporty, involving drive then look elsewhere, to something like the Ford Fiesta or Seat Ibiza. The Fabia is set up for comfort, and it achieves that aim well, with the suspension massaging out the worst lumps and bumps in the road surface. The pay-off for that is that the steering isn’t particularly sharp, and the cornering not particularly taut but that’s fine for what the car is intended for. Don’t be confused by the top-spec Monte Carlo version. It might be named after the famous Monaco rally, but other than sporty seats and some cosmetic embellishments, it’s mechanically the same as the rest of the range.
For a car of this size, the Fabia is very roomy. There’s plenty of space both front and back, with decent leg and headroom in the rear for adults. The boot is generous and there’s even Skoda Fabia Estate if you need more space, which no rivals offer.
Expert rating: 4/5
Features of the Skoda Fabia
The interior of the Fabia is best described as functional and acceptable, with an unremarkable but inoffensive design and materials that are of decent, if not spectacular quality. Tech-wise there are three different infotainment systems available, depending on which version you buy, but all operate in a broadly similar way through a 6.5-inch touchscreen, and are simple to navigate. The top two systems – called Swing Plus and Amundsen – feature Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and all have DAB radio and Bluetooth connectivity.
Skoda also makes a Colour Edition of the Fabia hatch, which lets you personalise bits of the car, such as the roof, wheels and side mirrors, with different coloured paint. It’s no Mini or Fiat 500 in terms of trendiness but it does at least jazz the looks up a bit.
Expert rating: 3/5
Power for a Skoda Fabia
All Fabias are powered the same 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine, offered in three different power levels with the fancier TSI models featuring turbocharging for welcome boost over the basic engine’s modest output. The 95-horsepower version is likely to be the biggest seller, and it’s fine for most everyday driving, with enough mid-range pep to keep the Fabia from feeling sluggish. If you regularly carry lots of people or stuff the 110-horsepower version has useful extra fizz and a six-speed manual gearbox over the five-speed in other models. That helps flexibility and fuel consumption, especially if you drive your Fabia out of city limits.