Bigger, bolder and better – the new, more expensive 2015 Skoda Fabia is still an appealing value-for-money offering.
Sean Carson | October 2014
Skoda’s rise under the VW Group’s guiding hand has been meteoric. From a brand once the butt of all motoring jokes to a company offering indisputable build quality and practicality at an affordable price.
The Skoda Fabia supermini was a big part of that journey, shifting over 3.5 million units since it went on sale back in 1999. Fifteen years later, enter the third-generation model with even more practicality, even more tech and even more reservedly attractive style – but what about value?
In the small hatch sector most manufacturers offer an entry-level model for under £10,000. However, the cheapest new Fabia on sale will lighten your bank balance to the tune of £10,600. So is it still a proposition that offers value for money?
To coin the Czech firm’s ‘Simply Clever’ marketing speak, the answer is ‘simply’ yes. True, prices of the new Fabia are creeping ever closer to its arguably more upmarket cousin, the VW Polo, but with this much practicality and this much equipment on offer, you still get a lot for your money.
What’s the Skoda Fabia like to drive?
We travelled to Lisbon, Portugal expecting to test the Fabia in some autumn sun. Wrong. Despite the brief break for pictures, we were met by biblical rain that actually gave us a great idea of what the Fabia will be like to drive year-round in the UK.
The two best-selling engines in Britain will be the 1.0-litre naturally aspirated three-cylinder and the 1.2-litre TSI turbo – both powered by petrol and both familiar units. The 1.0-litre is available in two variants, 60 and 75hp. The higher-powered version is impressively refined, smoothly buzzing around town with welcome vim – the Fabia removes you from the rattles and clatters the same motor makes in the smaller Skoda Citigo city car, meaning it’s much quieter here.
Out of town the engine feels a touch stretched, even though the Fabia weighs just 1,055kg (65kg lighter than before). There’s still enough go to cruise along on the motorway at, shall we say, modern motorway speeds, it’s just that you need to anticipate traffic a little more and plan your overtakes in advance.
The five-speed manual gearbox is light and slick, just like the six-speeder in the 1.2 TSI – albeit with a fairly long throw. Despite being just 20% larger in capacity, this four-cylinder petrol is much gutsier, thanks to that little turbo forcing-feeding the engine with fresh air.
Just like the 1.0, it comes in two guises, with either 90 or 110hp. The 90 feels like the sweet spot in the new Fabia, even though it is noisier than the triple. This is a supermini, so performance is not paramount, but there’s a more than adequate level of oomph on offer: if it matters to you, 0-62mph takes 9.4 seconds.
Efficiency is more important, and the Fabia scores highly here. Both the 1.0 and 1.2 TSI are officially quoted at 58.9mpg combined, with CO2 emissions of 108g/km for the former and 110 for the latter.
All power units in the new Fabia are EU6 emissions compliant and cough less than 110g/km CO2 into the atmosphere, meaning the most you’ll pay for road tax is just £20 per year. Most efficient is the 83.1mpg, 88g/km CO2 1.4 TDI.
The pair of engines we tested are well matched to the new Fabia’s chassis. Skoda’s latest supermini rides with real composure, absorbing bumps and the topography of Lisbon old town’s cobbled streets assuredly. On faster roads the Skoda feels stable and reassuringly stout. It’s not the most agile car in its class (if you want cheap-ish thrills, buy a Fiesta), but that’s not the Skoda’s rationale – the competition is going to find it tough going up against the Fabia’s practicality.
How practical is the Skoda Fabia?
If there’s one stat to take from the new Skoda Fabia, it’s boot space. At 330 litres with the rear seats in place, rising to 1,150 litres with the split-folding rear chairs down, the Fabia’s load bay outshines many cars in the class above. It’s fairly cavernous and a good shape.
This spaciousness is continued inside. Even the tallest passengers won’t want for headroom and your friends won’t be forced to contort their legs. Despite the car being 8mm shorter than its predecessor, the Fabia’s smart and functional interior is actually 8mm longer.
For your £10,600, S trim models are equipped with six airbags, a DAB digital radio, Bluetooth, stop-start, electric front windows and a 5.0-inch colour touchscreen.
The £12,760 SE trim adds air-con, 15-inch alloys, Skoda’s Front Assist safety package with autonomous city braking, an upgraded stereo with USB connectivity and Mirror Link with telephone control – a nifty system that displays exactly what’s on your smartphone onto the SE’s larger 6.5-inch swipe-recognition touchscreen. Want sat nav? This is the cost-effective (and only) way to do it in the Fabia.
At the top of the Fabia tree sits the £13,610 Elegance model. It gets climate control, larger 16-inch wheels, keyless go and cruise control as standard on top of everything above.
MR verdict: 2015 Skoda Fabia
The Fabia might not be the ultimate budget offering it once was, but with this level of equipment it’s far from expensive. It’s a soothing small car to drive, with welcome composure and finesse.
Besides, the practicality, efficiency and kit on offer here still represent strong value for money, and combined with the new inoffensive, chunky – maybe even predictable look (it’s quite customisable and fairly colour-dependent, we reckon) – the new Skoda Fabia is sure to be a supermini winner for those who rank space above sportiness.
Rivals: Skoda Fabia
- Ford Fiesta
- Renault Clio
- SEAT Ibiza
- Vauxhall Corsa
- Volkswagen Polo
Ford’s Fiesta has been the bestselling car in the UK for years now. It’s not hard to see why as it’s a brilliant steer, but interior ergonomics and practicality aren’t a patch on the new Fabia. The Renault Clio is slick inside and spacious, too, but it’s a very French option in contrast to the Skoda’s more Germanic approach. SEAT’s Ibiza is knocking on a bit now, so expect a new one soon – the Skoda knocks it into a cocked hat. Vauxhall is just launching its apparently ‘all-new’ Corsa, so we’ll see how it fares against the Fabia soon, while the VW Polo offers a balance of brilliant build quality, badge image, style and versatility. More expensive, though.
Specification: Skoda Fabia
Engine: 1.0 petrol, 1.2 turbo petrol, 1.4 turbodiesel
Gearbox: five-speed manual, six-speed manual, seven-speed DSG automatic
Price from: £10,600
Power: 60 – 110hp
Torque: 70 – 184lb ft
0-62mph: 9.4 – 15.7 seconds
Top speed: 122mph
MPG: 58.9 – 83.1
CO2: 88 – 110g/km