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Skoda Fabia SE 1.0 TSI 95PS

Date: 30 November 2018   |   Author: Sean Keywood

Standard equipment:
LED daytime running lights, 6.5in touchscreen with Bluetooth, multifunction trip computer, autonomous emergency braking, stop/start
Engines:
Petrol: 75hp 1.0, 95hp 1.0, 110hp 1.0
Equipment grades:
S, SE, Colour Edition, SE L, Monte Carlo
Transmissions:
Five-speed manual, six-speed manual, seven-speed automatic

Over the past 18 months or so we've seen some significant movements in the supermini segment, with all-new versions of the Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Polo and Seat Ibiza upping the ante in this hotly contested sector.

To help prevent the Skoda Fabia - VW Group sibling to the latter two models - from being left behind, it has now received a mid-life facelift and some new tech. 

Visual changes include tweaks to the bonnet, grille, headlights and rear bumper, while LED daytime running lights and autonomous emergency braking are now standard across the range.

If you're in the market for a bit of budget load-lugging then the Fabia is one of the few superminis still available as an estate; however, it's the hatchback - which accounts for more than three-quarters of sales - that we're focusing on here.

Purely petrol

The latest line-up is no longer available with diesel power - they previously made up less than 2% of sales, so they won't be missed by many - meaning the only engine options are 1.0-litre petrols with either 75hp, 95hp or 115hp. 

They've all been re-engineered, largely with the aim of improving efficiency, and the 95hp version is expected to be the most popular option. 

Skoda Fabia Rear

In its favour, it delivers perfectly adequate propulsion and a fun, rorty three-cylinder engine thrum, while the five-speed manual gearbox it's paired to shifts with a precise, relaxed action, and the ratios are well chosen to provide a good combination of nippy acceleration and relaxed motorway refinement.

Although the latest Fabia continues to be built on the same underpinnings as the previous generation Polo and Ibiza, it's far from antiquated.

The steering is commendably light and easy around town, the handling is neat and nimble with little body roll in corners, and the ride is smooth, both around town and at motorway speeds. What's more, road noise is surprisingly well suppressed for a supermini. 

Adding to the easy driving characteristics, all-round visibility is excellent, particularly to the rear, making it a doddle to slot the Fabia in and out of tight parking spaces.

Interior makeover

The particular Fabia seen here is in SE specification, one up from entry-level and predicted to be the bestseller. 

New brush-effect dashboard trim adds a bit of class to the interior, and though there are still some scratchy plastics dotted around the place, the items that you touch, like the handbrake, steering wheel and switchgear, all feel high quality. 

The instrument panel has also been updated, with the dials now boasting a flashier, sporty look, and there's also a new 6.5in infotainment touchscreen. It's highly responsive to the touch - good for scrolling through menus - and has a helpful shelf beneath it to brace your hand against, making operation easier, as do the useful shortcut buttons. 

Skoda Fabia Interior

Sat-nav isn't standard with SE trim, but Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility are, so drivers will be able to use their phone to navigate if required. 

As with so many VW Group products, the Fabia's seats offer a good degree of comfort without any obvious sagging, which should go a long way towards preventing the onset of any significant aches and pains during extended journeys.

Although not huge, the rear quarters provide adequate legroom and a good amount of headroom for a couple of passengers, while at 330 litres the boot is slightly larger than the Fiesta's, and only a tad smaller than the Polo and Ibiza. 

Strong numbers

As you might expect from a product of the VW Group's budget brand, the Skoda has the advantage on P11D, coming in around £1,500 cheaper than the equivalent Fiesta and Polo, and around £700 cheaper than the Ibiza - but perhaps surprisingly, it does lose out to the Ford and VW on residual values. 

While there's not much to choose between the VW Group cars on efficiency (as you'd expect since they share engines) the Fabia does squeak ahead of the equivalent Fiesta on official combined fuel economy - by 2.5mpg - and emits 4g/km less CO2, enough to place it in a lower BIK tax band. 

What's more, crunch the numbers on a cost-per-mile calculation and the Fabia comes out joint-best with the Polo. 

Factor in these appealing costs to what is, despite the slightly outdated underpinnings, a strong overall package and the Fabia proves the old adage that there's many a fine tune played on an old fiddle.

P11D: £14,645

Cost per mile: 28.4p

Fuel consumption: 61.4mpg

CO2 (BIK band): 106g/km (22%)  

BIK 20/40% a month: £54/£107

Boot space: 330 litres

Engine size/power: 999cc/95hp


Verdict


8/10
  • Attractive pricing
  • Well-judged driving experience
  • Interior trim impressive where it counts
  • Residual values not the best
  • Facelift changes on the minor side

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