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Driving

What is it like to drive?

The Fabia is a relentlessly sensible drive – if it was a person it would be the designated driver at a party. It’s stable and sensible on the motorway, brisk over a flowing country road but sure not to enjoy itself too much.

The controls are all firmly and evenly weighted – even if the mechanical link between your foot and the oily bits of a car gets further away with every generation of car, the Skoda at least does a good job of pretending. There’s a satisfying weight to the pedals and the steering is consistent all the way through a turn.

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There’s very little in the way of tyre or wind noise, while we also found the lane assist system (standard on all models) to be highly competent – helpful on motorways, while not too intrusive on country roads. Thumbs up from us.

What engines are available?

There are many engine configurations currently available so bear with us. Up first is a 1.0-litre 3cyl unit in a few states of tune. You can have it without a turbocharger and 79bhp if you so wish, and that comes paired with a five-speed manual gearbox.

What you really want though is a turbocharged TSI version with either 94bhp or 109bhp. The former of those two also gets a five-speed manual gearbox, while the more powerful latter can be had with either a six-speed manual (the one you want) or a seven-speed DSG (the one you don’t want – more on that anon).

Finally, at the top of the range is the only four-cylinder - a 1.5-litre turbo unit that makes 148bhp. You can only have that with the top spec Monte Carlo trim, and unless you're downsizing from something bigger we wouldn't recommend spending the extra cash just to get one more cylinder. 

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If you don’t mind being late for everything, the weediest engine gets the Fabia to 62mph from rest in a whopping 15.6 seconds. The 94bhp unit drops that to 10.7 seconds, while 109bhp with DSG option gets the job done in 9.8 seconds. It's probably worth reiterating here: don’t keep your fingers crossed for a proper hot hatch. Because it’s not happening. Still, the four-pot does at least drop the 0-62mph time to 7.9 seconds.

Is it efficient?

In terms of economy, the less powerful engines are officially rated in the mid-50s for mpg, while fitting a DSG gearbox to the 109bhp 1.0-litre unit actually decreases that to around 50mpg. That almost matches the larger 1.5-litre engine, so that shouldn't hit too hard on the wallet after the initial purchase. 

In real world driving, we managed around 50mpg in a 94bhp TSI with the five-speed manual gearbox, though those with a lighter foot may be able to achieve slightly higher. 

What’s the combo to go for?

We’ve driven the 94bhp and 109bhp 1.0-litre options so far, and both are solid all-rounders. One thing to note here, however – where the manual gearboxes play on the thrummy character of the 3cyl engine, we've found that the DSG makes for an oddly remote driving experience.

While the six-speed ‘box offers eco flexibility on the motorway, you don’t feel like you’re missing out with just the five gears in the 94bhp iteration. The start-stop system is also very rumbly on the DSG, registering maybe a four or five on the Richter Scale, and it's occasionally sluggish to pick up the power, even in Sport mode. In other words, we’d definitely recommend opting for the manual gearbox. Go for 109bhp and the six-speed if you want the ideal combo. 

Highlights from the range

the fastest

Skoda Fabia 1.5 TSI 150 Monte Carlo 5dr DSG
  • 0-628s
  • CO2106.0g/km
  • BHP150
  • MPG61.4
  • Price£23,285

the cheapest

Skoda Fabia 1.0 MPI SE 5dr
  • 0-6216.4s
  • CO2109.0g/km
  • BHP60
  • MPG58.9
  • Price£13,705

the greenest

Skoda Fabia 1.0 TSI 110 Monte Carlo 5dr DSG
  • 0-629.9s
  • CO2105.0g/km
  • BHP110
  • MPG61.4
  • Price£21,485

Variants We Have Tested

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