- We like...Space, comfort, drive
- We don't...Curtain airbags only on dearest model
It may be little, but its space is amazing for its size. We rate Skoda's small but super-capable load lugger Small car, big dog? Bad idea. Small estate car, big dog? Better idea. In a few words, there’s the essence of why little-big cars like the Fabia Estate exist. But there’s much more to it than that.
It gets off to a good start because the regular Fabia is among the roomiest superminis – for people and their belongings. The estate’s boot is a fifth bigger, making it even more generous than many other cars from a size class above. While the rear seat is no further back than in the Fabia hatchback, the estate’s taller roofline adds headroom for those sat in the back – not that there was a shortage to begin with.
As we’ve suggested, this Fabia is spot-on as a dog carrier – so much so, we’re surprised that it dsn’t pack a rear dog-guard as standard it. If you’re buying it with such a use in mind, the boot’s big, flat floor is a perfect spot for Fang or Fifi to get comfy in. And when it’s used on other duties, Skoda provides a useful basket to keep items from rolling around in the boot and a luggage cover that rolls back on its own with a downward push.
Even packing the space that it ds, the estate is only a sneeze longer than the hatchback, and the two cars feel very much alike to drive. Because they’re all part of the same mega-corp, this little Skoda shares engines, gearboxes and running gear with its sister cars, the Volkswagen Polo and Seat Ibiza. Both are notably good to drive and so is the Fabia, covering the bumps with a sureness and poise you’d expect from a bigger, more expensive car. It also steers with an alertness you’ll enjoy: it feels more sports hatch than pooch-carrier. And, a word about the engine. This 1.9, 105bhp diesel isn’t the quietest you’ll find but it works a treat in such a small car, pulling it along quickly and hard.
Skoda is the Volkswagen Audi group’s ‘value’ brand, so it’s the cheap end of the model line-up that we look to as the best buys. And the entry-level Fabia estate has a sub-£10,000 price ticket and a cheery, no-fuss honesty about it that we admire.
Dealers tell us, however, that customers for this model love the top-end models, so that’s what we’re testing here. Even though the cabin is loaded with goodies – auto air conditioning, heated front seats, an electric sunroof, parking sensors – it still has a back-to-basics look about it. The dash has a utility look and feel, underscored by the double glove box, which we love. Full marks, though, to Skoda for keeping radio controls off the steering (we reckon you don’t need them in a small car) and the most clear and easy to read speedo we’ve seen.
Second-hand, Skodas lose value relatively slowly, so expect value rather than bargains.
For a small car, the Fabia Estate is just so useful that you can’t help liking it. Even if you’ve no hounds to haul about, it’s one to consider.
To view and buy new and second-hand Skoda Fabia Estates, click on motors.co.uk
- Engines1.9 diesel
- 0-60 mph11.0secs
- Insurance groups4
Motors.co.uk value verdict: