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The Top Gear car review: Skoda Fabia

£9,890£17,355
8/10
Overall verdict

For: 

Immensely sensible, great practicality, excellent value, improved efficiency

Against: 

Value-brand roots show through in places
Highly commendable in nearly every way, but the lack of pizzazz means it’s not our class leader.

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Our choice

Skoda

1.2 TSI 90 SE 5dr

£13,395
7/10
60mpg
10.90s
90bhp
107g/km

What we say: 

Skoda’s taken everything the old fabia did so well and modernised it. The commonsense supermini choice

What is it?

After the Octavia, the Skoda Fabia is the Czech – but wholly VW-owned – brand’s second-best selling model in the UK. This is its third iteration and, like pretty much everything else released by VW Group in the last year, uses elements of the versatile MQB platform. This is Very Good News. It means that though the new Fabia is physically smaller than its predecessor, it’s bigger inside, lighter and, says Skoda, up to 17 per cent more efficient thanks to a new generation of three- and four-cylinder diesel and petrol engines.

Driving

Like driving? Head for a Ford Fiesta or Mazda 2 – the Fabia is geared more for tractability and ease of use than outright fun. The ride is smooth, the body well-controlled and the steering light enough to make scything through town and low-speed manoeuvring  as easy as. But the chassis simply isn’t as engaging as a Fiesta’s. It’s good, but not that good.

Where the Fabia shines is at the pumps. The most economical 1.4-litre, 89bhp diesel should, says Skoda, manage something north of 83mpg. And there’s an even more economical engine on the way, which should up that figure to 88mpg. It’s the 1.2-litre petrols (ignore the 1.0-litre because it’s simply not powerful enough) that are the pick of the range, though. They’re smoother, not massively less economical and suit the car much better.

On the inside

The Fabia has a thoroughly pleasant cabin. You could quite comfortably while away hours and hours behind the wheel. Every Fabia gets a central touchscreen, which ranges in size from 5in in base trim S cars, to 6.5in in top trim SE L models. MirrorLink, which allows owners of Android phones to mirror certain apps on the Fabia’s own screen, is standard on all but the base trim level. The 330-litre boot is the biggest in class, and there’s at least as much room in the back for passengers as you’d find in a Fiesta. Though smaller outside than the outgoing car, the new Fabia’s cabin is actually more spacious. The cabin is stylish and solid, if not quite a match for the Polo.

Owning

The new Fabia, which starts at £10,600, is less expensive than almost all its key rivals bar VW’s own Polo and even base models come with a useful amount of equipment such as air conditioning, Bluetooth, and parking sensors. Residuals are set to be competitive, and running costs should be fairly well contained given its impressive economy and emissions figures. Traditionally, Fabia owners have been a very happy bunch and this all-new one is unlikely to change that. Nice work, Skoda.

Highlights from the range

Title 0–62 CO2 MPG BHP Price
The fastest
1.4 TSI vRS 5dr DSG
7.3s 148g/km 45.6 180 £17,355
The cheapest
1.2 12V 60 S 5dr
16.5s 128g/km 51.4 60 £9,890
The greenest
1.2 TDI CR GreenLine II 5dr
14.2s 88g/km 83.1 75 £14,220

Wildcard

How about something completely different?

Wildcard

6/10

Dacia Sandero

£5,940£10,240
Want a good value, cheap to run car that’s mostly for use around town? Than have a Dacia Sandero. It’s how Skodas used to be