Though used to a larger car, I could certainly consider this surprising little ŠKODA, for five can be seated in reasonable comfort. In my week with the car, everyone commented on how spacious it felt. Getting child seats in and out was no problem.
Drop inside and you'll find a cabin that's slightly longer and larger than in most rival supermini models and at the same time provides the driver and passengers with decent headroom. The boot is the one of the largest within the car's segment at 330-litres. With the rear seats folded down, loading capacity increases to up to 1,150-litres. The loading area is 960mm wide, which was welcome during a long overdue trip to the tip.
The rather spartan feel of base-trimmed models is the only real criticism I would make of an interior that is otherwise a class above many other offerings in this sector. Forget the plasticky feel of previous ŠKODAs: the materials used are of really good quality, even on the entry-level variants.
Pricier versions have lovely Audi-esque touches and you also get lots of extra storage bins. The Fabia is designed to be practical and the company has championed a range of 'Simply Clever' features. The big new thing here though is the mobile online services available from 'ŠKODA Connect'. The 'Connect' package consists of two things; 'Infotainment Online' gives you online traffic information and can update you on things like fuel prices, parking spaces, current news and weather. Then there are the so-called 'CareConnect Services' which allow you to monitor your car from your smartphone, plus the set-up includes a breakdown call function and will automatically alert the emergency services if the airbags go off in an accident.
Behind the Wheel
You're unlikely to impress your younger friends by buying a ŠKODA Fabia but they'd probably be a little shocked if you were to overlook that and toss them the keys for a quick go. To be honest, I wouldn't have encouraged that with previous Fabias, but this one's a bit different thanks to major advances under the bonnet.
All of the units on offer are now three cylinder petrol-powered engines, ŠKODA deciding that the market for diesels amongst supermini buyers is now defunct. There are 60 and 75PS 1.0-litre MPI normally aspirated powerplants, but the engine to have, if you can stretch to it, is the 1.0-litre TSI turbo, available with 95 or 110PS. The perkier unit can be matched with 7-speed DSG auto transmission. On the move, ŠKODA has worked hard to endow the Fabia with a supple ride, decent body control and low-effort steering.
Value For Money
Prices start at just over the £11,000 mark, so this Fabia is no longer a bargain amongst superminis. There are five familiar trim levels; 'S', 'SE', 'SE L', 'Monte Carl'o and 'Colour Edition'. Prices start at around the £11,000 mark, so though this Fabia is no longer a huge bargain amongst superminis, it's still very well priced. There's a £1,000 premium if you want the Estate version.
A key improvement made to this revised model is the addition of the brand's 'Swing' centre-dash infotainment monitor, a 6.5-inch display that also allows drivers to use the full range of mobile online services. Further up the Fabia range, buyers are offered the more sophisticated 'Amundsen' navigation system, which features an Online Traffic Information service with real-time information on traffic hold-ups. Meanwhile, innovative SmartLink+ technology makes it possible to enjoy all the benefits of the Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, MirrorLink and SmartGate standards.
The 1.0-litre engine turns in some excellent economy figures. In the old Fabia 1.2 TSI, you could count on around 61mpg from the 1.2-litre unit; now with the 95PS 1.0-litre TSI variant, you're good for 65.7mpg with emissions dropping to just 99g/km. Go for the pokier 110PS unit and you're looking at 64.2mpg and 101g/km. Or 62.8mpg and 104g/km for a DSG auto model. That means that in the real world, a 1.0-litre TSI petrol-powered Fabia could easier end up being more economic overall than some supermini diesel models.
Fabias have always held very firm when it comes to residual values, used buyers valuing the Volkswagen Group input and resolute build quality. Insurance has also been very cheap, reflecting the mature owner profile. Will that change now that ŠKODA is aiming at a younger demographic? We'll have to wait on that one.