Parkers overall rating: 4.2 out of 5 4.2
  • Huge improvement in quality and design
  • More tech on range topper
  • Layout and materials nice across the board

How is the quality and layout?

The new cockpit is a significant overhaul over the old model. It has an entirely new layout, and features details introduced in other recent Skoda models – such as its two-spoke steering wheel, fully-digital instruments and optional digital climate control. The materials used are still quite hard but a brushed pattern on the top of the dashboard gives it a softer look.

Either way, it’s a bit step up from the plasticky arrangement of old – and crucially, less of a step down from fancier in-house rivals like the VW Polo and Audi A1. Neat elements like a full-width chrome strip running from door to door via the air vents, and piano black inserts in the instrument binnacle all contribute to a classier environment. Even if the latter reflects glare from streetlights back onto the windscreen.

The unusual door handles may polarize opinion – the Fabia’s most successful design changes are also the subtlest, buttons backlit in white instead of green look a lot more modern than before, as does the frameless rear-view mirror, while an optional panoramic roof gives things a welcome lift.

Infotainment and tech

You can also spec the new Fabia with a 9.2-inch connected navigation set-up that receives real-time traffic data and modifies your driving route depending on how busy the roads are. That’s the top tier system of course, with standard cars getting a 6.5-inch screen and no nav.

There’s wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a selection of USB-C sockets for charging, so it’s easy enough to make do. Options like a heated windscreen and steering wheel are super luxurious for winter.

Less essential is the 10.25-inch virtual cockpit display – a nice addition that adds a real high tech feel but the function is a bit limited, other than showing you media info, so we’re not convinced.

Comfort

  • Soft seats with average bolstering
  • Plenty of space between driver and passenger
  • Armrest on top spec cars

Space is improved in the rear over the old car and you can get climate control vents to help keep rear passengers cool, but the seat backs are flatter still.

Up front there’s plenty of room, and the seats offer a reasonable amount of support, although we’d like to see more bolstering to help resist bodyroll in corners.

The sportiest model has more heavily bolstered seats though, while those below are a touch on the flat side. They’re squashy to start off with but offer good enough support to stop you from slouching on a long drive.