Skoda Fabia (2015-2021) Review
One of the most spacious superminis around has VW build-quality but a lower price-tag
Strengths & weaknesses
- Smart looks
- Well equipped
- Lots of room inside
- No diesel option
- Ford Fiesta is more fun to drive
- Not as good value as previous generation
Skoda Fabia prices from £7,150 Finance from £156.19 per month
With sharp, angular lines and a range of distinctive colours to choose from, the Skoda Fabia hatchback strikes a bold pose in a fiercely competitive supermini class. As always, its chief rivals are big-selling cars like the Vauxhall Corsa, Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Polo, Seat Ibiza, KIA Rio, Peugeot 208 and Renault Clio. It's tough competition but the Fabia is one of the picks of the bunch.
Its engine range is generally impressive (save for slightly lacklustre 1.0-litre petrol) and the list of standard equipment eclipses what is offered by many of its rivals. One of this Fabia’s biggest calling cards, however, is the amount of space inside – more than you’d imagine when you first look at it from the outside.
Even with two six-footers in the front seats, two adults or three children can sit comfortably in the back thanks to a tall and straight roofline that doesn’t excessively compromise headroom. Like every generation of the Fabia, this latest version is only available as a five-door, so you can enjoy the extra practicality those extra doors bring regardless of which model you buy.
A 330-litre boot in the back of the Fabia is comfortably bigger than its most popular rival - the Ford Fiesta. In fact, the Fabia has even got a bigger boot that the previous generation Ford Focus, which is a much larger car. Dropping the 60:40 split-folding rear seats frees up 1,150 litres of space – useful for those weekend trips to IKEA or the garden centre. There are also plenty of cleverly designed and decent-sized cubbyholes and boxes for occupants to store bits and bobs in. Other clever touches feature too, like an ice scraper tucked away next to the fuel filler cap.
A five-star Euro NCAP rating confirms the Fabia as a reassuringly safe car, while there’s plenty of standard safety kit such as ISOFIX child-seat mounts in the back and a full set of airbags all round. In the SE version and above, you get an autonomous braking system that can stop the car before it crashes if you fail to react to an obstacle ahead.
The Skoda Fabia is renowned for having excellent value finance as a new car, but that value carries over onto the used market where some equally enticing deals can be found - even on models that are barely 100 miles old.
|Three years/60,000 miles
|Tax (min to max)
|£0 to £20
Best Skoda Fabia for...
Best for Economy – Skoda Fabia 1.0TSI 95PS
For older Fabias, the diesels will be more economical, but as mentioned, diesel engines are no longer on offer. The most economical engine is the 1.0TSI in 95PS will do 47.1-51.4mpg
Best for Families – Skoda Fabia 1.0 TSI 95 PS SE
It's very hard to look past the 1.0 TSI in 95PS spec. It's usefully faster than the MPI engine, and is the most economical. SE specification includes all the essentials, like air-conditioning, DAB radio, an alarm and rear parking sensors.
Best for Performance – Skoda Fabia 1.0TSI 110 Monte Carlo
Previous Skoda Fabias offered a high-performance ‘vRS’ model, but that’s not the case with the third-generation car. You can, however, go for the sporty-looking Monte Carlo version with a 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine that gets it from 0-62mph in under 10 seconds.
One to Avoid – Skoda Fabia 1.0 MPI 75 S
The 1.0-litre MPI petrol engine was first introduced in the smaller Skoda Citigo city car and it’s more suited to that pint-sized car. In the Fabia, it feels very strained and slow, with a 0-62mph from rest in torturous 14.9 seconds.
October 2014 Prices and specs of third-generation Fabia announced for 2015.
August 2015 Range-topping Monte Carlo version added to line-up.
2018 1.2-litre petrol, and all diesel engines droppped. New 1.0-litre TSI engine.
Understanding Skoda Fabia names
Engine 1.0 MPI 75PS
The first part of Skoda Fabia model names is the size of the engine in litres (1.0 in this case). The following letters explain the type of engine it is: MPI for a standard petrol, TSI for more powerful and efficient turbo petrol engines. The final number is the engine power given in horsepower.
Trim SE L
The trim level lets you know what standard equipment is fitted. The five-strong Fabia range comprises the basic S, good-value SE, colourful colour edition, luxurious SE L and sporty Monte Carlo versions.
Certain versions of the TSI petrol engines are available with Skoda’s automatic gearbox, called DSG, which indicates that it's a smooth twin-clutch system, which also allows you to change gears yourself if you want.
Skoda Fabia Engines
1.0 MPI, 1.0 TSI (95bhp), 1.0 TSI (110bhp)
The Skoda Fabia engine range is pretty straightforward.There are two different 1.0-litre petrol units. One is a non turbo, and the other has a turbo, and two different power outputs. If you want the DSG automatic gearbox, it’s only available with the most powerful engine.
The cheapest and slowest engine is badged MPI. It’s a 1.0-litre like the TSI, except it isn’t turbocharged to bring more power. It’s also less economical than the TSI engine, mostly because it’s so slow. You constantly need to be under full throttle if you want to make any meaningful progress.
The TSI is a much better way to go. In 95bhp form, it has enough grunt for towns and cities, and it feels faster than its 14.7second 0-62mph time would suggest. Even in the real world, under mixed driving conditions, it should easily achieve 45mpg. If you regularly use motorways, it might be better going for the more powerful version.
The 110bhp car manages to be nearly as economical as the 95bhp car, but is usefully quicker. A sub 10 second 0-62mph sprint is respectable for this type of car.
0 - 62mph
45.6 - 49.6mpg
47.1 - 51.4mpg
1.0 TSI (Automatic)
43.5 - 47.9mpg
47.1 - 51.4mpg
Skoda Fabia Trims
S, SE, Colour Edition, SE L, Monte Carlo
Like the engine line-up, the range of Skoda Fabia trim levels – or versions – isn’t too bewildering, with just five options to choose from.
Starting things off is the bargain-basement S, which is perhaps better equipped than you’d expect an entry-level supermini to be. It has power-adjustable heated mirrors, electric front windows, digital radio and Bluetooth, plus extensive safety kit such as ISOFIX points, tyre-pressure monitoring and LED daytime running lights.
The S does have two major omissions (air-conditioning and alloy wheels) both of which are rectified on the SE. This version also sports a leather steering wheel (much nicer than the plastic in the S), parking sensors and Skoda’s ‘SmartLink’ smartphone connectivity system.
Colour Edition adds new 16-inch alloy wheels in black, white, or silver, cruise control, plus, a coloured roof and door mirrors to match the wheels.
SE L adds front foglights and LED daytime running lights, as well as a central armrest, climate control, keyless entry, push-button start and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror.
The sporty-looking Monte Carlo model tops the range and looks very distinctive thanks to its black alloy wheels, rear spoiler, panoramic sunroof, red interior trim and sports seats. But the car is no faster than than other versions, as it has the same engines.
Skoda Fabia Reliability and warranty
As a brand, Skoda has long been a star performer in Auto Express magazine’s Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, with its cars frequently ranked at or near the top of the charts in almost every area and its dealer customer service praised highly.
This generation of the Fabia was too new to feature in the most recent 2015 edition of the survey, but its predecessor only managed a fairly disappointing 127th for reliability and 143rd for build quality out of 200 cars looked at. However, more recently introduced models like the latest Skoda Citigo, Skoda Rapid and Skoda Octavia did much better, so we’d expect to third-generation Fabia to record a similar performance in the 2016 survey.
Warranty cover on the Skoda Fabia is the same as for any VW Group vehicle: three years and 60,000 miles. Not bad, but not as good as what you get on key rivals the Hyundai i20 (five years/unlimited miles) and Kia Rio (seven years/100,000 miles).
Used Skoda Fabia
The Skoda Fabia is mechanically closely related to the Volkswagen Polo, but due to a perceived lack of badge prestige compared to VW, it doesn’t hold its value as well on the used market as its sister model. That’s very good news for bargain hunters who aren’t too bothered about image and just want to get themselves a spacious, well equipped and reliable car for a good price.
Indeed, a two-year-old Fabia for under £10,000 with a year’s factory warranty remaining looks like a very good used buy at the time of writing. The majority of cars on sale will be SEs, but you could well bag yourself a high-spec SE L for not too much more money and benefit from the extra kit it offers. The range-topping Fabia Monte Carlo was introduced nearly 12 months after the other trim levels, so availability won’t be as good here just yet.
Several petrol and diesel engines have been discontinued in the life of the Fabia, and make tempting used bargains.
The 1.0-litre MPI non-turbo petrol is attractively cheap, but feels pretty lacklustre. The less powerful 59bhp version of this engine is offered only in entry-level S specification, but the slightly quicker 74bhp one can be fitted to any trim level. Either way, it makes the Fabia slow, quite noisy and no more efficient than with the livelier 1.2-litre petrol engines.
We think the 1.2-litre TSI turbo petrol is the pick of the range, particularly when paired with the good-value SE trim level. It offers adequate performance for everyday driving along with pretty good fuel economy for a petrol. Both the 89 and 108bhp versions of this engine are available in SE, SE L or Monte Carlo spec, but the more powerful one doesn’t feel hugely different, so it’s not really worth spending more for.
If you want a diesel Fabia, a 1.4-litre TDI is offered in two power outputs (although the stronger 104bhp version is only available on the pricey SE L and Monte Carlo trim). It’s not as responsive as the petrol around town, but it’s the better choice if you spend a lot of time on the motorway.All of the engines mentioned in this paragraph have been discontinued and are no longer available to buy from new.