The third generation ŠKODA Fabia supermini looks sharp, that’s for sure, with an edgy, bold design full of crisp lines, geometric shapes, curves and shadows. My Corrida Red test car would’ve looked even cooler in SE L trim than SE, blinged up with black 17” alloys, privacy glass and fog lights, but the 15” Mato wheels still look smart and the overall car has a mature but sporty vibe. It looks every bit as solidly built as its sister car, the VW Polo, and I’d personally choose a fully-loaded new Fabia over the latest Polo, based on looks.
It feels as solid as a bank vault on the inside as well, but the very black dashboard, black and grey seats and lack of interior flair make it about as exciting as one, too, on a general level. The glossy black inserts and funky colour touchscreen make up for the not-so-jazzy interior colours available, and the Arkamys surround sound system sounds sweet with the volume cranked up, and comes with DAB radio and USB, Aux and 12V sockets for your gadgets. The leather-trimmed steering wheel and handbrake lever give it an added touch of class, too, and the seats are comfortable for long journeys. I should know, as a short while after my Fabia was delivered, I drove two hundred miles in one go.
SE trim also means rear parking sensors, handy for less experienced drivers, plus Bluetooth, MirrorLink for pairing your smartphone up with the Bolero infotainment screen, ŠKODA’s Maxi-DOT trip computer, heated and electrically adjustable wing mirrors and a speed limiter, again useful for newer or younger drivers with telematics insurance policies. It’s just a shame the £15,915 as-tested price didn’t include climate control or wing mirrors that fold in, for added peace of mind when parking up.
ŠKODA’s Simple Clever package for the Fabia is great, giving you a waste basket, vertical holder for smartphones and music devices, drinks bottle holders, a big glovebox, useful door bins, net pockets on the sides of the front seats for storing stuff like membership cards, plus various nets, hooks, holders and compartments in the boot. The overall cabin is roomy enough for four rugby players and even comes with storage boxes under the front seats, an ice scraper inside the fuel cap and a ticket holder fitted to the windscreen. If you’re in a band or an orchestra, are into your sports or generally carry lots of stuff around, the new Fabia would be a good choice, with a class-leading 330-litre boot, expanding to 1,150 litres if you fold the seats down.
Powered by a 1.4-litre, 90PS, 3-cylinder diesel engine that ŠKODA reckons can give you combined economy of upto 83.1mpg, I averaged 70mpg after that two hundred mile journey, which was mainly on the motorway in rush-hour. After a week with the new Fabia, I’d say MPG of mid-60s is more achievable. The diesel engine’s a bit noisy but pulls nicely in low gears, making it a decent choice for town driving and country roads. The 5-speed manual gearbox has a likeable feel to it but you’ll need to change down a gear or two to climb hills. On the motorway, the new Fabia blows around a bit in strong winds but generally feels very safe, with good all-round visibility.
I was really impressed by the new Fabia’s handling, the car cornering crisply and safely with little body roll. The ride quality is excellent, too, able to gobble up speed bumps and potholes without flopping about like Mr Soft. The steering is nicely weighted and provides decent levels of feedback so you get a pretty good idea what the car’s doing, and it’s a safe car thanks to Front Assistant that has a collision radar and brakes for you if necessary, along with six airbags and electronic stability control. If you’ve got kids or regularly cart your niece or nephew around, the two outer seats in the back have got ISOFIX child seat fittings.
All third generation Fabia engines are Start-Stop and meet the latest European emissions standards. The 1.4 TDI 90PS SE model I tested falls in insurance group 10E, so will be more attainable for younger drivers, plus it’s in VED road tax band A, meaning zilch to pay.
With funky, Cyborg-like styling, an amazing range of bright and beautiful paint colours to choose from and a solid, slightly boring but well-equipped and very practical interior, the new ŠKODA Fabia hatchback has got a lot going for it. The diesel isn’t the quietest and the 1.2-litre petrol engine makes more sense if you don’t do much driving, but it’s quite engaging and rewarding to drive, keeps its occupants safe and doesn’t cost a fortune to run. Positioned as a slightly cheaper alternative to its VW Polo sister, it’s only about £1,000 less for the same specification and performance, and the new Fabia has got its work cut out competing against the new Mazda2, Fiesta, Corsa and others. It could do with being a little cheaper, but overall, it’s a very good little car.