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Skoda Fabia Overall verdict
One of the better ’minis out there, the Fabia does everything you could ask of it, but not a whole lot more. A modest success.
‘The Czechs have a centuries-long history of engineering excellence. And rather amusingly, they’ve made a better job of the VW Polo than the Germans themselves.’
What is it?
The second-generation Fabia is a stroke of genius. Based on the Polo, but larger, cheaper and just as good in almost every respect, it’s hard to see how parent company Volkswagen ever allowed it to happen. Successfully restyled (kerb appeal was the first car’s only real failing), the Fabia II is one of the most complete cars on sale, offering exceptional value for money in a sturdily built and generously proportioned package. The little estate version also looks superb now and is only an extra £850. Bargain.
While the Fabia was never going to trouble the Ford Fiesta or Renault Clio in terms of outright driver involvement, this remains a highly accomplished supermini with big car pretensions. The ride is supple, and engine and tyre noise is minimal. VW’s wide range of superb engines, especially TSI petrols and TDI diesels, mean you can spec up a highly capable and frugal product here, able to cross-pollinate between town and distance driving with ease.
Having said all that, buyers of the hot vRS will not be disappointed by the Fabia’s chassis and steering set up, which is communicative and responsive enough to completely subvert the strait-laced, no-nonsense image that the Skoda has worked tirelessly to achieve. It’s no longer a diesel but instead gets the excellent 1.4 TSI engine from the Polo GTI and Ibiza Cupra, plus a seven-speed DSG gearbox. There’s a lot of fun to be had here, and for impressively little money.
On the inside
The original Fabia was solid but spartan inside, a stark reminder that you were, in VW terms, slumming it. But all that’s been dispensed with now and the new Fabia’s cabin is a smart and stylish aff air that belies its supermini price point. Everything feels exceptionally well made and exactingly finished, and where the Ibiza suffers from that slight sense of immaturity in the VW Group range, the equally affordable Fabia is a Polo rival for perceived quality and class.
In the back there’s more space than you’d expect from a car in this segment too, with a generous 300-litre loadspace that will expand to well over 1,000 when you fold the rear seats flat. That is ginormous. This really is a great multi-tasking car.
Skoda owners tend to come up trumps in satisfaction surveys, with excellent servicing and helpful dealers. The Fabia is unlikely to be problematic to run and it’s always going to be competitively priced. There’s a tax-friendly Greenline version on offer now, with low emissions and superb fuel returns, and residual values will be strong across the range.