Up until 2007, the Fabia was a rather strange-looking beast, it has to be said. Yet since then the Czech manufacturer has steadily improved the exterior design. The Mk1's harsh-looking nose was replaced with rounded headlights and a sleeker grille, and a 2010 facelift reworked the looks further. The lines are sharper and straighter on the latest generation models, with more rectangular headlights and creases on the bonnet - this creates a more athletic look. In terms of wheels, you get alloys from the SE trim upwards on models from both generations.
The Fabia's cabin is robustly built and the controls are intuitive. Latest generation models have an infotainment system with both a touchscreen and helpful physical buttons for easy usage, plus Bluetooth and a USB port. For the second generation it's best to go for at least SE Plus trim to get a well-equipped Fabia. This gives you air-con, Skoda's Media Device Interface, climate control and a multi-function steering wheel. If you're looking for a latest generation Fabia, the SE L trim offers a lot of kit including a touchscreen sat nav with one-year Infotainment Online included, keyless ignition and cruise control.
DrivingThe Fabia is easy to drive with good all-round handling and performance, making it a solid performer on all types of roads. Good visibility and a tight turning circle make city driving and parking a stress-free experience, while the steering is precise. The Fabia is surefooted when tackling corners, with plenty of grip and a stable feel. It also delivers excellent levels of ride comfort, soaking up bumps and potholes effortlessly, and is pleasant to drive on the motorway.
Skoda have a good reputation for practicality, and this is apparent even in this small hatchback. The Fabia has a useful boot which is large for a car of this class and is easy to load, while the rear seats fold down for extra space. There are various useful storage compartments in the front too, including a double air conditioned glovebox for keeping drinks cool. Latest generation models come with the option of Skoda's Simply Clever storage system, which adds useful extras such as a phone holder and waste bin. It's a comfortable interior too, with plenty of space in the front and the rear, which is spacious enough to accommodate 2 adults or 3 kids without it being a tight squeeze.
Engines and transmissions
The engine range kicks off with 1.2-litre, 1.2-litre turbo and 1.4-litre petrols for the Mk2 models. There aren't any duds here, with all three nippy enough to make driving around town enjoyable. If you travel longer distances often then it's best to go for the turbo or the 1.4-litre, with 104bhp and 86bhp respectively. On latest generation models you have the choice of a 1.0-litre MPI and a turbocharged 1.0-litre TSI, with 75bhp and 95bhp respectively. Diesels are less common on the used car market, but you can get hold of one if you wish; they come in 1.2-litre, 1.4-litre and 1.6-litre guises. Used automatic fabias are pretty scarce, but this isn't an issue as the manual gearboxes are slick.
The Fabia is a solid, versatile car that suits a variety of drivers. City residents will enjoy its manoeuvrability and nippy performance, while regular motorway users will find the punchier engines deliver a comfortable ride. Despite being a small hatchback, the Fabia has surprising practicality, so families will find it has plenty to offer too. With excellent build quality and decent equipment, this car offers great value for anyone seeking a small hatchback.