Skoda Fabia review 2019

Find out more about the Skoda Fabia in the latest MOTORS Review

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Out of 5


  • Practical cabin
  • Comfortable to drive
  • Ergonomic interior


  • Limited engine choice
  • Top spec models can be expensive
  • Cheap-feeling plastics
Model Review

Up until the 1990s, Skoda and its cars didn’t have the best reputation. However, Volkswagen’s takeover of the firm in the ‘90s put the brand into a new standing, with models such as the Fabia and Octavia helping to do this.

Unveiled in 1999, the Fabia replaced the Felicia, and was offered as a five-door hatchback, a saloon and as an estate, and shared many of its components with the Volkswagen Polo and Seat Ibiza.

The Fabia also took home many awards at the time, including What Car?’s coveted ‘Car of the Year’ gong in 2000, while it was also launched a few years later as a sporty vRS hot hatch — using a 128bhp 1.9-litre diesel engine.

A second-generation model was unveiled in 2007, with Skoda ditching the Fabia saloon option on this version. It was more practical, more refined, but equally as good value as the previous car.

The third-generation Fabia made its debut in 2014, with sales starting at the start of 2015. The biggest disappointment for buyers has been the absence of a sporty VRS model, with the raciest engine being offered a 1.0-litre turbocharged engine.

Skoda also kept true to its ‘Simply Clever’ mantra — keeping the Fabia as a dependable, easy-to-use and fuss-free supermini.

Latest model

Skoda unveiled a facelifted Fabia at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show, with the updated model available to order later in the year.

It was only a light redesign, with a key focus on improving safety and boosting standard equipment levels. Skoda revised the grille and bonnet, while LED daytime running lights were fitted as standard. The rear also features a new bumper.

Autonomous emergency braking was fitted to all trim levels, with optional safety features including blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert, which helps when reversing out of parking bays.

Another difference was the absence of the 1.4-litre diesel engine, with the revised model favouring an all petrol line-up.

Value for money

As superminis are heading more and more upmarket, the prices for them have also risen at the same time. The Fabia’s an exception to this rule, as it remains an affordable and well-priced option — providing you stay away from the top-spec trim levels.

Prices start from £12,255, which buys an ‘S’ model. It doesn’t come laden with standard equipment, but electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors, as well as a 6.5-inch touchscreen and a trip computer are included for the price.

SE is the pick of the range, as this adds rear parking sensors, alloy wheels and air-conditioning, which are worth the extra spend.

On the used market, there’s plenty of first-generation Fabias for sale for under £1,000, which make great first cars or cheap runabouts. Prices for the newest third-generation Fabia start from under £5,000, which will buy you an entry-level model S model with either the 1.4-litre diesel engine or the basic 1.0-litre petrol engine. SE models start from around £6,000 and £7,000 for a high-spec SE L.

There’s also decent savings to be had on nearly-new models, with discounts of up to £3,000 available on versions less than six months old.

Looks and image

The Fabia’s newer siblings from Seat and Volkswagen might be classier to look at, but the Fabia still has a lot going for it. With the facelift’s slight redesign, including a larger grille and standard LED daytime running lights, it’s a smart-looking model, but favours a functional design over glamour. Buyers wanting to turn up the style have the option of either the Colour Edition or Monte Carlo, which come with contrasting styling packs, with the Monte Carlo coming with a racier bodykit.

The cabin is much the same as the exterior, as it features a simplistic and ergonomic layout. Yes, the touchscreen might not be as big as rivals and it might not look quite as modern, but ultimately, functionality is just as important. Standard models still come with a 6.5-inch screen and a trip computer, with higher-spec versions getting a larger display and satellite navigation. Everything is well placed and simple to use, and it also feels built to last. The quality might not be up to the same standard as others in the supermini class, but that’s a price worth paying when the Fabia is cheaper than the rest of the pack.

Buyers wishing for the most involving driving experience should probably look at the Ford Fiesta, but those wanting a comfortable, refined and decent-to-drive hatchback are well-paced with the Fabia. The ride is comfortable, and even the smallest engines still feel refined at speed, even if they can feel lethargic getting up to 60mph. It’s just a shame that Skoda hasn’t launched a sporty vRS model, which would provide the extra thrills that the Fabia is yearning for.

Video review

Space and practicality

For a small and practical family hatchback, there’s few better cars in the supermini class.

The Fabia’s bucked the recent trend of cars getting bigger, with the latest version being smaller than the car it replaces. But that’s not at the expense of practicality, because clever packaging has ensured that the cabin is much roomier.

There’s enough room in the rear seats for two adults, even when sat behind a taller driver or front-seat passenger, although the optional panoramic sunroof can eat into headroom, as it does with most cars fitted with them. And unlike other superminis, the Fabia’s rear seats are always easy to access thanks to its five-door layout.

Boot space is also good for a car of this class, with the Fabia hatchback offering 330 litres of boot space, which still beats many models here, albeit newer rivals such as the Seat Ibiza and Renault Clio might have overtaken it now. Should the Fabia hatch’s boot not offer the desired amount of space, you also have the option of the Estate version, which offers 200 litres more space. It’s one of very few supermini-based estate cars on sale, and offers an affordable way of having a very practical car.

The Fabia has not been tested by Euro NCAP since 2014 when it received a five-star safety rating, with good scores recorded across the board. The facelifted version is even safer, thanks to the standard-fit autonomous emergency braking, which is known as Front Assist. Further safety aids, such as blind spot monitoring and rear-cross traffic alert are also available on the options list.


The revised Skoda Fabia features a streamlined engine line-up comprising four 1.0-litre petrol engines.

The first two of these options are naturally-aspirated, and are offered with either 59bhp or 74bhp. Both are best-suited to town driving, as they can feel particularly sluggish out on the open road, although they’re relatively refined once up to speed. The 59bhp variant takes 16.4 seconds to ‘dash’ from 0-60mph, and the 74bhp option 14.7 seconds. Both come paired with a five-speed manual gearbox, although the 59bhp engine is only offered on ‘S’ specification models in the hatchback, and not the estate.

The turbocharged three-cylinder units comprise a 94bhp or 108bhp engine, with the former coming with a five-speed manual transmission, and the latter with the option of a six-speed manual or a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox. The 108bhp engine is the quickest in the line-up — taking 9.4 seconds from 0-60mph and having a top speed of 121mph.

No diesel engines can be had on the new market, although pre-facelift cars were offered with a 1.4-litre diesel unit producing either 89bhp or 104bhp.

Running costs

Thanks to small and efficient turbocharged petrol engines, the Fabia should prove to be a cheap car to run. Fuel economy figures range between 49.6mph and 51.4mpg, with low CO2 emissions of 106-111g/km. It’s worth noting that these figures come from a more stringent emissions test, which are more reflective of real-world driving conditions.

Insurance groups should also be cheap, too, with the Fabia being placed in insurance groups one to 12. The non-turbocharged petrol engines are also ideal for new drivers thanks to the low groupings, although all versions should be comparatively cheap to insure next to rivals.

Things to look out for

With the Fabia sharing many of its components and engines with many across the Volkswagen Group, it’s proven to be a dependable choice when it comes to reliability. But that said, there’s a few issues that have affected the Czech supermini. The first is the seven-speed DSG automatic transmission, which can be notoriously troublesome so it’s worth asking someone you trust to have a look over any automatic model before purchasing. Some owners have also reported that the brake discs don’t last particularly long before they need replacing.


Because Skoda doesn’t have the same brand image as Volkswagen with its Polo, the Fabia doesn’t hold its value quite so well. But on the plus side, it means there’s some well-priced used models for sale, and savings of over £3,000 off nearly-new models can be quite easy to find.

Trims explained

The Fabia is offered in five trim levels — S, SE, Colour Edition, SE L and top-spec Monte Carlo.


Prices for the ‘S’ start from £12,255, and while equipment might be a bit sparse in places, it’s generally well-kitted out for the price. It comes with 15-inch steel wheels, a trip computer electrically-adjustable and heated door mirrors, LED daytime running lights and remote locking. Other features include automatic emergency braking, a 6.5-inch touchscreen with USB connection and Bluetooth, as well as electric front windows, stop/start engine technology and a height adjustable driver’s seat.

Start from £12,255.


SE is our pick of the range, and gets the balance just right between value and standard equipment. This model adds 15-inch alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, front fog lights, air-conditioning and an alarm. It also comes with a leather-wrapped steering wheel, handbrake and gearstick, as well as smartphone connectivity, a height adjustable passenger’s seat, a speed limiter and a handy umbrella, which is one of Skoda’s ‘Simply Clever’ touches.

The SE costs from £14,425.

Colour Edition

The Colour Edition does what it says on the tin — add some extra colour to the model. It upgrades the wheel size to 16-inches, which can then be painted in black, white or silver, with the roof and door mirrors also painted to match the alloys. It also adds cruise control.

£14,975 starting price.


SE L is seen as the most comfort-orientated version, and costs from £15,775. On top of the SE, it adds 16-inch alloys, satellite navigation, climate control, front and rear floor mats, a front armrest, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, cruise control and keyless start.

From £15,775.

Monte Carlo

Range-topping Monte Carlo is the sporty-looking version. It comes with styling tweaks in the form of a black roof spoiler, rear diffuser, roof, door mirrors and grille. Other differences include LED rear lights, leather seat bolsters, a black centre console, Monte Carlo door inserts, rear electric windows, climate control and a sports steering wheel.

Costs from £17,180.

Estate Versions

Estate versions are roughly £1,000 more expensive than the five-door hatchback.

From £14,359.


  1. Great value
  2. Cheap to insure and run
  3. No diesel option on new models
  4. Monte Carlo adds some extra style
  5. Comfortable and refined to drive…
  6. But lacks the involvement and fun of the Ford Fiesta
  7. Autonomous emergency braking fitted as standard
  8. Available as a practical estate too
  9. Excellent rear space for a small car
  10. An affordable, no-frills and highly-commendable supermini

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