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What is the Skoda Fabia?

The Fabia supermini has been part of the automotive furniture since 2000, helping Skoda grab a place at the top table of volume car manufacturers. Alongside the larger Octavia, it has established itself as a big seller in the UK, with an ability to rub shoulders with the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa.

It helps that it shares much with Volkswagen Polo, albeit with a lower price and backed by a dealer network with a reputation for good customer service. Launched in 2015, the current Fabia is getting a bit long in the tooth, but remains relevant thanks to keen pricing, practicality and decent equipment levels.

At-a-glance 2019 Skoda Fabia specs

  • Top-speed: 98-122mph
  • 0-62mph: 9.6-16.6 seconds
  • Fuel economy: 43.5-51.4mpg
  • Emissions: 105-111g/km
  • Boot space: 330-958 litres

Which versions of the Skoda Fabia are available?

Two body styles are available: the familiar five-door Fabia Hatchback and a roomier Fabia Estate – one of only a few small load-luggers available in the UK. There was a cosmetically-challenged compact saloon on sale in the past, but this is best forgotten.

Today’s engine line-up is comprised entirely of three-cylinder petrol engines: an entry-level 1.0-litre MPI producing either 60hp or 75hp, and a 1.0-litre TSI offering a choice of 95hp or 110hp outputs. The lower-powered cars are fitted with a five-speed manual gearbox, but the 110hp Fabia is equipped with either a six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG transmission.

This makes it the better choice if you intend to drive the Fabia on motorways or out of town. There are five trim levels: S, SE, Colour Edition, SE L and the sporty looking Monte Carlo.

What is the Skoda Fabia vRS?

The first-generation Skoda Fabia vRS was famous for popularising the concept of a diesel hot hatch, while the second-generation ditched the derv in favour of a 1.4-litre twin-charged petrol engine. Sadly, the days of a performance Fabia appear to be over, although the Monte Carlo does at least look the part, thanks to its 16-inch black alloy wheels (18-inch wheels are an option), cosmetic upgrades and leather bolstered seats.

The 110hp 1.0-litre TSI engine is the only unit to propel the Fabia to 62mph in sub-10 seconds, completing the sprint in 9.6 seconds in hatchback guise. Interestingly, the Monte Carlo 1.0 TSI estate will hit a top speed of 122mph – 1mph faster than the hatchback.

Skoda Fabia styling and engineering

It’s been on sale since 2015, but the Skoda Fabia manages to look fairly fresh thanks to a subtle facelift in 2018. The grille is larger, the lights are slimmer and the interior has been given a very light nip and tuck. It’s a neat looking supermini, without being overly flashy, which suits the Skoda brand and its customers.

The Volkswagen Polo is a tad more comfortable, gets enhanced technology and has a nicer cabin, but in common with other Skodas, the Fabia is loaded with neat touches, such as the ice scraper on the reverse of the fuel filler flap, which now works as a magnifying glass and a tyre tread depth gauge.

How does the Skoda Fabia drive?

The 60hp 1.0-litre MPI is a frugal engine – up to 51.4mpg is possible on a combined cycle – but it’s best avoided if you travel long distances or tend to venture into the outside lane of the motorway. The 75hp version is better, but the 1.0-litre TSI is the pick of the bunch, offering a good blend of performance and economy. This is especially true in the Fabia estate, as the turbocharged unit helps when you’ve filled the load area with luggage or whatever lifestyle activities you get up to at the weekend.

Both the Volkswagen Polo and Seat Ibiza are sharper to drive, with the Fabia using an older Volkswagen Group platform and not the latest MQB-A0 architecture. Having said that, the handling is agile and it’s an easy car to drive, although the steering is totally devoid of feel.

How much does the Skoda Fabia cost?

The entry-level Fabia S has a temptingly low list price, but it’s worth noting that this model forgoes air conditioning, digital radio and alloy wheels. Better, we think, to upgrade to the SE, which features 15-inch alloys, rear parking sensors, digital radio, SmartLink+ phone connectivity, leather multifunction steering wheel and manual air conditioning.

This puts the Fabia on a par with an entry-level Volkswagen Polo and five-door Vauxhall Corsa, while undercutting the cheapest Seat Ibiza by around £1,500. The SE L models are the range sweet-spot, with the Fabia also having the advantage of an estate model, although a Dacia Logan MCV offers better value for money.

Discover how Fabia drivers rate their Skodas with our comprehensive owners’ reviews.

Skoda Fabia Model History

Current generation Skoda Fabia (2015-)

January 2015 – First UK deliveries of third-generation Skoda Fabia. Offered with a choice of three trim levels – S, SE and Elegance – and five engines, there’s also a choice of manual or automatic gearbox
August 2015 – Monte Carlo edition Fabia introduced as the sportiest trim in the range. Available with three petrol and two diesel engines, it boasts standard equipment such as a 6.5-inch colour touchscreen, DAB digital radio, Bluetooth phone connectivity and Apple CarPlay.
March 2017 – Three-cylinder 1.0-litre TSI petrol engines replace four-cylinder 1.2-litre units, in 95 and 110hp form
September 2018 – Fabia facelifted and diesel engines dropped. Range consists of three 1.0-litre petrol engines (75, 95 and 110hp), with five trim levels on offer including Colour Edition.

Second-generation Skoda Fabia (2007-2015)

Skoda Fabia Mk2

The second-generation Fabia took all of the best bits about the old model – the low prices, efficient engines and robust build quality – and wrapped them in a body that looked more rounded – and generic – than its predecessor. The four-door saloon was no longer available in the UK, but five-door hatchback and estate versions were offered with a choice of efficient petrol and diesel engines, along with a standard mix of manual and DSG double-clutch auto transmissions.

There was a Fabia for everyone, from the super-frugal GreenLine with its 83.1mpg fuel economy, through to the supercharged and turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol Fabia vRS. Sadly, the diesel Fabia vRS had been consigned to the history books.

First-generation Skoda Fabia (2000-2008)

Skoda Fabia Mk1

The Skoda Fabia debuted at the turn of the millennium, introducing a new model name and a replacement for the ageing Felicia. It proved to be a highly versatile car, with UK buyers offered a choice of hatchback, saloon and estate bodystyles. Buyers soon warmed to its blend of Volkswagen Group quality and excellent value for money, but some hot spice was added to the range courtesy of the Fabia vRS. Powered by a 1.9-litre turbodiesel engine, the Fabia vRS introduced the concept of a diesel hot hatch, bringing new customers to the brand and raising the profile of Skoda’s vRS performance sub-brand.