We road test the all-new Skoda Fabia hatchback – a impressive car that’s shaking up the supermini sector…
The latest Skoda Fabia is quite simply one of the best small hatchbacks on the market. An alternative to the ubiquitous Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa, it’s a fantastic all-round package.
Of course, no car is perfect, and the fourth-generation Fabia is no exception. For instance, it’s a petrol-only range, with no hybrid choice. In this day and age, it seems odd to be coasting and braking and NOT harvesting energy otherwise lost.
However, not everyone is ready to go hybrid or fully electric, and many can’t afford the extra upfront cost or fit a home charger, so for now conventional ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) cars are still the most popular new car option.
Only offered as a five-door hatchback (there’s no estate version this time round), it comes in cool colours (Phoenix Orange and Race Blue especially) and there’s a sporty Monte Carlo version topping the range.
The Fabia is longer than its predecessor, and the boot (up by 50 litres to 380 litres) is claimed to be the largest of any supermini on sale today.
Its more grown-up, aerodynamic design brings it more closely into line with other newer Skodas, including the Octavia and Scala,
Priced from £17,800, there’s a choice of either a 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine with a choice of three outputs (64, 94 or 108bhp), or a 1.5-litre four-cylinder (148bhp) unit available in the flagship Monte Carlo.
The two entry-level 1.0-litres get a five-speed manual gearbox, while the more powerful version gets a six-speed, though a seven-speed DSG automatic can also be specified.
We tested the 1.0-litre with the biggest output paired with the twin-clutch auto gearbox. Capable of up to 50.7mpg, CO2 emissions are as low as 126g/km, while 0-62mph takes 9.8 seconds and top speed is 126mph.
Inside, it’s attractive, well-built and offers lots of space. Up front there’s a large central floating touchscreen (there are three sizes, depending on how much you spend) with clear graphics. It’s well equipped too, though again, you get what you pay for.
It’s also packed with safety and driver assistance systems, helping it earn a maximum five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests (there are three separate ISOFIX mounting points in the rear, plus the option for top and bottom mountings for the front passenger seat).
It’s easy to find a comfortable driving position, and while there is extra room in the back, taller passengers might still struggle for legroom. However, overall, it’s excellently packaged. with plenty of smaller storage spaces too.
As we’ve already mentioned, the boot is huge for a car of this size. In fact, it’s comparable to some vehicles in the Ford Focus class above.
On the road it’s a surprisingly refined experience, and it’s clearly been designed more for comfort than performance.
That said, it’s a punchy little engine and feels quicker than the official figures suggest. Spirited drivers can still have some fun in the Fabia because it handles well with ample front-end grip, while body roll is kept well in check.
The steering is light and it’s a doddle to drive in town, but it’s also a fine cruiser. The DSG works well enough, but it can be a little hesitant to change through the gears if you’re in a hurry. Skoda expects most buyers to opt for the six-speed manual anyway.
We achieved the magic 50mpg on a long run with mixed roads, so driven sensibly, the Fabia will reward you with lower running costs.
Add Skoda’s hard-won reputation for reliability and the new Fabia is right up there with the best of them, even if there isn’t a hint of electrification.
Verdict: The all-new Skoda Fabia is a cracking little car. Attractive, affordable and delivering plenty of space, comfort and on-board technology, it’s pleasant, easy to drive and well worth a test drive.