Skoda Fabia

The Essentials

  • Price from £10,490
  • What Car? says: 3 star rating
  • Fuel economy: up to 83.1mpg
  • What is it? The Fabia is roomy and reasonably cheap to buy and run, but it feels outdated next to the best rivals

Great

  • Brilliantly spacious for a car of its size
  • Unlikely to let you down
  • Decent discounts are widely available

Gripes

  • All engines are noisy; diesels are particularly vocal
  • Basic models miss out on useful safety kit
  • Sport model offers few added thrills
  • Drive

    Comfortable and good to drive around town, but noisy with it

  • Inside

    Solid and smart with plenty of boot space and legroom

  • Safety

    Only top-spec cars get curtain airbags; basic models miss out on an alarm and electronic stability programme

  • Reliability

    Performs well in customer satisfaction surveys, feels solid and expensive

  • Space

    Surprisingly capacious, you can seat three reasonably comfortably without squashing the six-footers

  • Standard and extras

    Air-con is standard, Elegance offers alloy wheels and cruise control, Sport has leather wheel and rear spoiler

  • What's it like to drive?

    The Fabia is quite big by supermini standards, but it's dinky enough to excel in the city, with light controls and a comfortable ride. Don't expect sporty handling, though; there's a lot of body sway in bends and the steering is vague.

    The cheapest versions have noisy three-cylinder engines, so you're better off spending a bit extra on the 84bhp 1.4-litre petrol. More expensive versions - such as the turbocharged 1.2 - are even better, but push the Skoda's price into the realm of better much superminis.

  • What's it like inside?

    The Fabia sits at the bigger end of the supermini class, so there's plenty of space inside for four adults. The boot is deep and well shaped, too, and easily capable of swallowing a pushchair or the weekly food shop.

    Making yourself comfortable behind the wheel is a doddle, thanks to a steering wheel that adjusts for reach and rake, and a height-adjustable driver's seat. However, the interior is hardly posh; the design is drab and the plastics are hard and unappealing.

    Entry-level 'S' model have electric front windows, remote central locking and a CD/MP3 stereo, although it's worth stepping up to SE trim, which adds air-conditioning, electric front windows and body-coloured door mirrors.

  • How reliable is it?

    The Fabia was rated well above average in the latest What Car? reliability survey, but safety isn't so impressive, as the Fabia is one of the few cars in its class (superminis) to have achieved only four - as opposed to the maximum five - stars for adults when it was crash tested by Euro NCAP (under the slightly less stringent, pre-2009 system). It was awarded only three stars for child safety.

  • Should I buy one?

    The Fabia isn't without appeal, and Skoda usually has a special offer running to make it even more tempting. However, there are plenty of newer superminis on the block that cost around the same but give you more for your money.