MSN Cars
14/02/2007 00:00 | By Kyle Fortune, contributor, MSN Cars

Skoda Fabia review (2007 onwards)



What: Skoda Fabia
Where: Faro, Portugal
Date: Feb 2007
Price: from £7,500 (estimated)
Available: May 17 2007
Key rivals: Fiat Grande Punto, Ford Fiesta, Honda Jazz, Vauxhall Corsa, Nissan Micra, Peugeot 207, Citroen C3, Seat Ibiza

Read more Skoda car reviews

Summary

Skoda’s big-selling Fabia enters 2007 with a major overhaul. New looks, revised engines and a smart interior increase its appeal even further. Expect prices to rise slightly as a result, but it will still be a good-value proposition compared to rivals.

Likes: smart new look, neat interior, peppy three-cylinder engines
Dislikes: noisy diesels, flat seats, firm ride in bigger engine variants

Less is more, much more

Skoda Fabia (© Image © Skoda)

Up above there is a list of key rivals to this new Fabia, but you might notice the Volkswagen Polo is missing. Why, particularly as the Fabia famously shares its underpinnings with its VW cousin? Well, the Fabia is likely to appeal to a completely different customer. The Polo sells on its badge alone, and while that is perhaps partially true of the Skoda, the brand values could not be more different. Forget the Polo then, particularly as this latest Fabia makes it look and feel old and tired, that being one reason it is not on the list above – oh, and the VW is also significantly more expensive.

Driven: Volkswagen Polo

Skoda Fabia (© Image © Skoda)

Not that we can say with absolute certainty how much more the Volkswagen is, as at this early test drive there is no information as to how much the new Fabia will cost. Expect the Fabia to retain its starting point of around £7,500, though, pitching it against a huge and highly competitive group of superminis. On first impressions the Skoda has the measure of them, the redesign giving the Fabia a far more distinctive and fresh look. The frontal styling might be shared with its Roomster relative, but thankfully from the A-pillars back it loses that car’s wackiness and instead offers neat five-door hatchback styling.

Driven: Ford Fiesta

Aircraft cockpit, on a supermini…

Skoda Fabia (© Image © Skoda)

Key to the Fabia’s good looks is the cockpit-style wrap-around glasshouse. It is a signature that is used on the Roomster too, and it works particularly well with the less radical lines of the Fabia. Indeed, the Fabia’s designer has managed to retain the basic shape of the previous car, but inject some real dynamism into it. So it remains as sturdy looking as before, but the sharper detailing, a taller cabin and slight decrease in width injects some athleticism that was severely lacking in the old car. Not so much that it will scare away existing customers, but plenty enough to ensure new ones take notice of the new car.

Driven: Fiat Grande Punto

Skoda Fabia (© Image © Skoda)

It is not only outside where the designers have been busy. Inside the Fabia has lost its rather utilitarian style for an altogether more attractive and expensive looking cabin. Obviously there is a few pointers to Skoda’s VW parentage, and plastics abound, but it all feels superbly built and is more pleasing to look at than ever before. The cabin feels more airy, due to that increase in headroom, and bootspace has also been improved slightly, as has the functionality of the luggage compartment with a new twin-level parcel shelf. Overall, it all feels like a quality interior, and certainly one that is up there with the best of its mainstream rivals.

Driven: Honda Jazz

Smaller engines = bigger fun

Skoda Fabia (© Image © Skoda)

The engine line-up largely follows that of the new car’s predecessor. That means there is a choice of petrol and diesel engines. It is the smaller engines that appeal, delivering the most entertaining performance, and injecting some real character into Skoda’s supermini. Both petrol and diesel ranges are introduced by three-cylinder units, 1.2-litres in the petrol and 1.4-litres in the diesel. Both are offered with two outputs, either 68bhp or 79bhp in petrol guise, or 59bhp and 68bhp as turbodiesels. The remaining engines are four-cylinder units, with a 1.9-litre diesel with 103bhp, and two petrols of 1.4 and 1.6-litres with 84 and 103bhp respectively.

Driven: Vauxhall Corsa

Skoda Fabia (© Image © Skoda)

The bigger engines are decent enough, but it is the willingness of the entry-level three-cylinder units that really appeal. They all demand revs, the eager petrol being the most enjoyable while the diesel delivers decent performance at the expense of refinement. Either way they feel like they are giving more than the performance figures suggest, with 0-62mph times as high as 16 seconds for the lowest power 1.2 petrol not reflected in their eager, willing delivery. Usually we would suggest a diesel as the engine of choice, but it is difficult to argue with the brilliant 1.2-litre petrol three-cylinder – combined consumption is not bad at 47mpg, either.

Driven: Nissan Micra

Sharper too

Skoda Fabia (© Image © Skoda)

Pick one of those smaller engines and you will feel the difference behind the wheel too. The lighter triples mean that the Fabia feels less front heavy, the result being a compliant ride and more incisive steering feel. Not that any Fabia, at least until the vRS comes along, is really going to set your pulse racing with its brilliance as a drivers’ car. That is not a criticism though, as there is undoubtedly something extremely satisfying about driving such an honest and capable small car. You could pay far more for a less practical, less enjoyable and less well-built supermini.

Driven: Peugeot 207

All round satisfaction

Skoda Fabia (© Image © Skoda)

That is true of any Skoda, but more than any the new Fabia underlines something of a new direction for the brand. Sure, the worthy, inexpensive part is still there, but it is now complimented with an injection of desirability, brought about by neat, attractive styling inside and out. We have yet to receive details on exactly what each trim level will get in the UK, or the prices, but expect the new Fabia to follow its predecessor in offering decent equipment at sensible prices. We will be able to confirm that nearer the Fabia’s May on-sale date. If you are looking for a new supermini it might just be worth waiting for a test drive…

The MSN Cars verdict ****

Superminis should be uncomplicated, practical and characterful. The new Fabia scores well on all. Even better for those on a budget is the fact that it is the entry-level engines that are the most appealing models in the range.

Read more Skoda car reviews

Ratings out of five: Skoda Fabia from £7,500 (est)
Performance
***
Ride & handling***
Interior****
Safety***
Price****
Practicality****
Fuel economy****
MSN Cars verdict****

Petrol engines 1.2 (x2), 1.4, 1.6
Diesel engines 1.4 (x2), 1.9
Power (bhp) 60 to 105
Torque (lb/ft) 80 to 177
0-62mph (secs) 10.1 to 16.5
Top speed (mph)96 to 118
Combined MPG 37.1 to 61.4
CO2 emissions (g/km)/tax (%) 120/18 to 181/23

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Used Skoda Fabias from £1,700

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