Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0
  • Comfortable driving position with good visibility
  • Excellent infotainment system
  • Cabin materials are solid and robust

Sitting behind the wheel of the Fabia is a largely pleasant experience thanks to the car’s tried-and-tested Volkswagen Group platform and switchgear.

Offering up plenty of head, leg and shoulder room, the driver’s seat also boasts plenty of adjustability to suit a wide range of driving positions.

The base is adjusted using a lever under the seat, while the back can be moved with a wheel on the right-hand side – much easier to use than the cheaper ratchet setup. Rake and reach steering wheel adjustment are also standard.

Meanwhile, the dials and infotainment display are clear and easy to understand, yet still look stylish enough if that’s what you’re after.

Easy to use infotainment system

The Fabia’s infotainment uses an older layout to the one in the Superb and Octavia, yet, oddly, it’s arguably easier to use. That’s because the touchscreen is supplemented with a number of physical shortcut buttons on either side allowing easier navigation of the menus. Other Skoda models have jettisoned the physical buttons in favour of touch buttons.

Aside from the button layout, the software used in the infotainment system is slick and easy to use, even if the graphics aren’t quite as up-to-date as they are on newer Skoda models.

This marks a pattern throughout the rest of the cabin, where all of the switches, dials and buttons are solid and well-engineered, even if they’re not quite as premium as fresher VW Group models.

Soft-touch plastics and other materials are in evidence throughout the cabins of higher-spec Fabias, but the general theme is of a solid, functional cabin.

Words like that may ring alarm bells for those used to the plusher materials seen on Audis and VWs, but the Fabia integrates the cheaper materials well – so that they never spoil the rest of the cabin or feel nasty.

Comfort

  • Supple ride on all models, including Monte Carlo…
  • …Even if the Fabia does get thrown around on country roads
  • Refinement levels are good, yet fall behind the VW Polo

As we noted in the handling section, the Fabia’s setup is biased more towards comfort than its ability to hurtle down country lanes. That means there’s a well-judged ride quality on all models, including the sporty Monte Carlo editions (when fitted with the standard 16-inch alloy wheels).

Fabia boasts supple ride quality

The base-spec S Fabia sits on 15-inch alloys as standard, this increasing to 16-inch for the sporty Monte Carlo version. Larger 17- and 18-inch wheels are available on the latter model but we haven’t had a chance to try these yet. 

Such small wheels help produce a ride comfort that is supple and composed over broken British road surfaces, with the Fabia only caught out by the largest of sudden dips and ruts. The flipside of the small wheels, however, is that they do allow the car to get thrown around a little on uneven country roads.

It’s not a jarring experience as the car rounds off the imperfections well, but does create a mild sense of instability. Note that this can be remedied by reducing speed.

Good refinement levels at lower speeds

In and around town the Fabia is hushed and refined, with little wind or road noise. Speed up to A-road or motorway speeds, however, and it starts to feel more out of its depth.

When accelerating hard onto fast roads, only the no-longer-for-sale 110hp version felt fully comfortable, yet even then makes its presence felt beyond 5,000rpm. Less powerful versions are equally as noisy and need to be worked harder to make progress.

Road and wind noise at 70mph is noticeable across the board, and lags behind the Volkswagen Polo for outright refinement.