Sober, but not boring
Ever since the first generation, the Skoda Fabia has been known as functional and rational. This is a car which is bought with the mind and not with the heart. Nevertheless, it is immediately noticeable that Skoda has put a lot more work into the design of the new Fabia than before.
The previous generations of the Fabia became ever more happier and hipper. For this fourth generation, Skoda has opted for a more serious and refined character. The large grille, chrome trim and tapering headlights give the Fabia a distinguished appearance. The rest of the lines also exudes attention to detail and refinement, making the Fabia much more than a "sensible alternative".
The Fabia not only looks mature, but is now one of the largest cars of its type. This is not only due to its length and width, but also to its wheelbase, which determines the interior space.
The front seats can be adjusted over an exceptionally long distance, allowing even very tall people to sit comfortably. Depending on the position of the front seats, the legroom in the back ranges from sufficient to nil. Please note that the ascending window line in the rear doors makes it difficult for small children to see outside.
The refined character is enhanced by the design of the dashboard. It consists of a combination of rough and smooth plastic, alternating with textiles. In the orange test car, the fabrics have orange stitching and the trim pieces are executed in bronze. The door handles are now integrated into the door panels for an elegant look. All of this does not detract from the functionality, but gives the car much more character.
The so called “Simply Clever” features are practical details which hardly make the car more expensive, but which do make daily life with the Fabia easier. Examples are a telephone holder in the back of the front seats, a removable cup holder and a pen stand in the centre tunnel. In the boot, there are freely positionable nets and partition walls. The floor mat of the boot can be pulled forward to protect the car's sheet metal when loading heavy items, and also contains a reflective warning triangle to alert traffic coming from behind.
Skoda is characterised by equipment that includes everything that is necessary but not superfluous. However, what was seen as pure luxury a few years ago is now commonplace. This is why the fourth Fabia has a display instead of analogue clocks behind the steering wheel. The driver can choose various layouts in which, for example, the sat nav or driving data takes centre stage. In this way Skoda makes optimal use of the possibilities a screen offers.
Of course Skoda provides a combined audio, communication and navigation system. Its functionality is equal to that of similar systems from other brands. The progress is in the beautifully designed menus and integration with smartphones (Apple Carplay / Android Auto, 2 USB-C connections and an induction charger). Not necessary on a compact car, but now very common, is a rear parking camera.
Skoda promises to bring advanced technology within reach of a larger group of buyers, but this does not apply to the engines. The Fabia is not an electric car and does not even have electrical assistance. While mild-hybrid technology is now commonplace, Skoda has opted for the same petrol engines that it has used for many years.
Of course technology is being developed further and that is noticeable in real life. When opting for the 95 PS / 175 Nm strong 1.0 TSI, there is a lot of shifting to be done. When the revs drop too much, the power also drops and that is why this power source was felt to be too light. Because the engine has to work hard, the consumption rises considerably.
The same engine is also available in a 110 PS / 200 Nm version with automatic transmission and that feels and sounds completely different. The automatic gearbox responds perfectly to the character of the engine, which benefits both comfort and consumption. The "Fabia 1.0 TSI DSG" is easy to drive and is also pleasantly quiet. Once up to speed, very little reserve is available and it is only by pushing the needle of the speedometer into the red area that the Fabia shows its quick side.
With both engines, the test consumption was 6.4 litres per 100 km, which is considerably higher than average for a car of this size and power. Due to the lack of (mild) hybrid technology, the Fabia may be cheaper to buy, but in daily use, the Skoda is ultimately more expensive. Certainly when the car is used intensively, this is something to take into consideration.
Skoda belongs to the "Volkswagen Group" and therefore shares the technology with other compact models from this parent company. After the Volkswagen Polo and Seat Ibiza, the Skoda Fabia now also uses the so-called "MQB A0" platform for compact cars. This determines the space, the road handling and the freedom which the designers were given.
The Fabia not only looks playful, but also has a particularly low air resistance. This results in lower consumption and less driving noise. The new suspension proves its worth particularly on bad road surfaces. Without "floating" above the road or bouncing around, the Fabia is able to absorb unevenness very well. Moreover, the new suspension makes driving easier and less strenuous, which means that the handling has also matured.
Just like all previous generations, the new Skoda Fabia is functional and well thought out. The interior space is good and thanks to the many "Simply Clever" features, the Fabia is just that bit smarter than average. The equipment includes everything that is required, but no superfluous items. However, the Fabia moves with the times and so things which were previously considered unnecessary in a compact car have now become standard.
Unfortunately, little progress has been made in the area of engines. The Fabia offers no form of electric drive or even electric assistance (hybrid). Even in the compact segment, the competition now does offer this, which is why the consumption of the Fabia is relatively high. At the same time, it is clearly noticeable that the performance is being squeezed by fuel-saving techniques. The "1.0 TSI 70 kW" performs moderately and therefore the "1.0 TSI 81 kW DSG" is highly recommended.
The most important gain is the new platform. This ensures quiet, stable handling and reduces driving noises. It also gave the designers more freedom. The Fabia therefore looks more attractive than before and, thanks to its increased exterior dimensions, offers a great deal of space. The Fabia therefore remains down-to-earth, but has nevertheless gained a lot of character.
- Good handling
- Modern, usable technology
- Functional and well thought-out
- Relatively high consumption
- Lots of patronising beeps and warnings