Skoda Fabia review - making the mature decision
The Skoda Fabia has been around for more than 20 years and over the course of its life it’s been unavoidably linked to the VW Polo and Seat Ibiza.
Over the years, all three models have shared platforms, with chassis, engines and components common across all three superminis.
In market positioning, the Volkswagen has always been the VW Group’s “premium” option, the Seat the youthful one, and the Fabia has generally sat somewhere in the middle.
Across all three generations it’s been the mature, value-led choice and that’s a position it still occupies.
It’s mature in a couple of ways. First off - despite a big facelift in 2018 - the Fabia is relatively long in the tooth. Its Polo and Ibiza cousins are now based on the new MQB A0 platform while the Fabia soldiers on with the previous generation setup.
The other two VW Group superminis are also fresher and more youthful in appearance and feel. There’s no body coloured dashboard or fancy exterior colours for the Fabia and the biggest screen you can have is 6.5 inches. But the Fabia still projects a grown-up feeling with the refinement and robustness of a larger car.
It’s a common-sense sort of machine. There’s nothing flashy or particularly clever about it but it’s very good at doing what it needs to do and it’s at least £3,000 cheaper than an Ibiza, Fiesta or Polo.
Update over the last couple of years did bring more technology and features to the Fabia, so all models now get front assist autonomous emergency braking, LED daytime running lights and a multifunction trip computer.
Our SE-spec car is a step up from the £12,990 entry-level S so also features 15-inch alloys, air conditioning, DAB radio, smartphone connectivity, rear parking sensors and front fog lights. We also had the optional but excellent Amundsen touchscreen with nav - a £570 extra.
Moving from S to SE spec also opens up the full range of engine options. The Fabia is petrol-only with 74bhp, 94bhp and 108bhp versions of the 1.0-litre three-cylinder TSI unit.
Our 94bhp version felt pleasantly lively, with more than enough vim to get the Fabia moving along, although an 11-second 0-62mph time isn’t going to worry Fiesta ST owners.
For anyone doing mostly city driving the 74bhp version might well prove enough while the 108bhp one, with its option of a seven-speed DSG auto gearbox seems almost like overkill.
Compared with the likes of the Ford Fiesta, the Fabia has never been a driver’s car but it handles and rides well around town while feeling solid and secure on faster A roads and motorways.
Its big-car feel is emphasised by a relatively spacious interior for the class, with good rear leg and head room and a 330l boot.
The Fabia is slightly in the shadow of other superminis. The Ibiza and Polo are more youthful and refined, and the Fiesta is still among the best on the market.
But the Fabia shouldn’t be discounted. It is a solid, competent and comfortable hatchback and, starting at more than £3,000 cheaper than any of those three, it’s a sensible option for drivers looking for a good-value grown-up choice.
Skoda Fabia SE
Price: £15,810; Engine: 1.0-litre, three-cylinder, turbo, petrol; Power: 94bhp; Torque: 118lb/ft; Transmission: Five-speed manual; Top speed: 114mph; 0-62mph: 10.8 seconds; Economy: 51.9mpg; CO2 emissions: 123g/km