02 September 2016

Full Skoda Fabia Estate (15 on) Model Review

by Tom Goodlad, Staff Writer

Skoda Fabia Estate 1.4 TDI 105 SE L road test blue
  • Skoda Fabia Estate front lights
  • Skoda Fabia Estate rear seats
  • We test Fabia with most powerful diesel
  • Plenty of practicality in a compact body
  • Priced at £18,155, our car tops £20,000 with extras
Skoda Fabia Estate (15 on) 1.4 TDI (105bhp) SE L 5d - Road Test
Skoda is on a roll at the minute, with great-value cars available across its growing range – the Fabia being one of the most popular models in the line-up.

Skoda is on a roll at the minute, with great-value cars available across its growing range – the Fabia being one of the most popular models in the line-up.

We’ve already tested a top-spec Fabia Estate SE L powered by the 90hp 1.4-litre TDI diesel engine, so now we’ve got behind the wheel of the more powerful 105hp version of the same engine to see if it’s worth paying £600 more for an extra 15hp.

Under the bonnet

The 105hp 1.4-litre three-cylinder diesel is the most powerful you can get in the Fabia Estate, and it shares the same traits as the lesser-powered 90hp version. That means it’s got a characteristic three-cylinder thrum, but it makes itself known at all speeds – it’s not the most refined diesel out there.

It’s got plenty of poke, though. With 250Nm of torque it feels much punchier than its 105hp power figure suggests and easily gets up to speed, but it does make a bit of a racket it in the process. You’re rewarded with an enjoyable driving experience though. The Fabia feels agile thanks to its light construction, and while it rolls a bit in corners, the softer set-up means it soaks up lumps and bumps in the road very well.

The small capacity means it’s a frugal engine too. Skoda claims it’ll return 74.3mpg, although we managed around 55mpg in our time with the car. CO2 emissions of 101g/km mean it’s just above the threshold for free road tax, although it’ll still only cost you £20 after the first year at 2016/17 rates.

SE L spec is pricey but well-equipped

SE L sat at the top of the range until sporty Monte Carlo trim came along, so that means it comes with a lot of desirable equipment, including:

  • 16-inch alloy wheels
  • Rear parking sensors
  • Bluetooth phone connectivity
  • Climate control
  • Cruise control
  • Touchscreen infotainment system
  • DAB radio
  • MirrorLink system supporting Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Electric windows front and rear
  • Electric mirrors
  • Keyless start
  • LED daytime running lights
  • Automatic lights
  • Tyre-pressure monitoring
  • Front assistant – warns the driver of potential collision and applies the brakes

This version of the Fabia Estate is one of the most expensive, costing £18,155, but our car also came with front and rear parking sensors (£290), sat-nav (£500), heated front seats (£180), Jeans Blue interior with white dashboard trim (£50), leather multi-function steering wheel (£25) and a space-saver spare wheel (£85).

Add £535 if you want metallic paint, while a clever bike carrier for the boot was also fitted to our car and costs £180. In all, that comes to £20,000 but while you do get a lot of car for the money, a lot of the options fitted to our test car aren’t really what we’d call essentials for a sensible estate.

It’s worth pointing out that the Jeans Blue interior and white dash trim really gives the cabin a much-needed lift for not a lot of money though – without it there are large of swathes of grey and black plastic.

Sensible but practical

To look at, the Fabia Estate isn’t going to set your heart racing, but that’s not what this car is about. What will impress you is just how practical it is for such a small car.

The Fabia boasts a 530-litre luggage space, which is impressive in itself. It becomes more impressive when you realise it’s a whole 200 litres bigger than the Fabia hatch and it’s bigger than the boot in the Ford Mondeo Estate (500 litres) but the Fabia is only 2mm longer than a VW Golf hatchback.

It’s also pretty roomy for passengers – there’s plenty of headroom and there’s a generous amount of storage cubbies to keep odds and ends. You can dive into the options list for various Simply Clever items to make life easier for you as well, including a smartphone holder and the aforementioned bike carrier for the boot.

Verdict

The Fabia Estate isn’t a car that’ll tug at your heart strings, but by no means is it a car you should discredit. Quite the opposite. If you’re after a practical, no-nonsense car that’s easy to live with, spacious and cheap to run, the Fabia Estate is a great proposition – it’s an incredibly accomplished little car.

This engine and spec doesn’t make as much sense as models further down the range though, and we fell about 20mpg short of the claimed 74.3mpg, so we’d save over £3,000 and opt for the 1.2 TSI petrol in SE spec – you get the same spacious interior, the engine is smooth and punchy and it’ll cost exactly the same to tax.