This car has been superseded by a newer model, click here to go to the latest Skoda Fabia Estate (15-21) review.

Parkers overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 3.5

A wide choice of engines encompassed 1.2, 1.4 and 1.4 16v petrol units, plus VW’s proven 1.9 SDi diesel and willing 1.9 TDi turbo-diesel. 1.2 can struggle with a full load; the 1.4 8v (68 bhp) is better, but the 100 bhp 1.4 16v is the petrol unit of choice; it’s flexible and willing. The latest 2.0 uses VW’s long-running 115 bhp 8-valve engine from the Golf – it’s certainly lively but doesn’t quite lend Fabia ‘hot hatch’ credentials.

The two diesels – 1.9 SDi and 1.9 TDi – are both economical with Combined test fuel consumptions of over 55 mpg. The SDi is an old school slogger – 0-60 mph takes almost 19 seconds – but the TDi is a far nicer drive, pulling steadily from low revs. Range-topping 2.0 models were launched in January 2002 but are rare sightings so far.

Fabia is a flexible performer that’s easy to drive around town, with precise, light controls, good visibility and punchy engines. It’s just as good out of town, and can be driven confidently thanks to safe handling, assured roadholding and good acceleration.