Škoda Fabia review (2023) – Polo beware!

Is it the best small car ever?

Today we’re going to talk about Fabia. I’ll tell you right now, it’s not your weird neighbor who lives alone, eats alone, goes out alone, talks alone and gives the whole block of flats a suicidal stare. Nope. I’m talking about another Fabia that’s more convenient and less scary. You have my word, unlike some monstrosities that make you want to stop producing humanity, the Škoda Fabia will definitely save the world.

The serious kid of the pack

Can you see that plain Fage Total 0% Fat yogurt stuck at the bottom of your fridge which is already three months out of date? You know perfectly well that it is good for you and that it alone can compensate for the turkey with chestnuts, the frozen log and the praline papillotes… However, in the sole reason of destiny, you constantly prefer this pot of dessert cream that is as charming as it is crappy for your butt. Well, it’s the same thing for the Fabia, which prefers to play safe. It’s all about pragmatism and if you’re looking for a sexy car, you’ll have to go elsewhere. The typical Škoda front end is banal, the typical Škoda profile is banal and the typical Škoda rear end is banal. Yes, the lights are more chiselled than on the previous generation, the car has grown in length (+11 cm) and width (+5 cm) and ribs appear here and there, I admit. Yes, my Monte Carlo red model has a welcome touch of spice, I won’t deny it: glossy black finish, specific skirts, 18-inch wheels and diffuser do add a touch of rebelliousness. But these gimmicks do little to keep the Fabia from becoming too bland. So, in the most likely eventuality, you’ll choose this dessert cream that you just bought. I would have done the same thing, even if it meant gaining three kilos. Gosh.

“A little prodigy on board”

The Fabia therefore has a revenge to take in the interior. As soon as you open the doors, you can feel the talent of the little Škoda. The space is extremely generous both in the front and in the back and the boot is among the best in the category at 380 litres. As a bonus, the large panoramic roof makes the interior a pleasure to live in. We have a new virtuoso in this respect. Adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, LED lights, dual-zone automatic climate control, reversing camera, auto-dimming rear view mirrors, remote vehicle control… The equipment is quite extensive. The 10.25-inch Digital Cockpit complements a 9.2-inch touchscreen, both of which are quite intuitive to use. We’ll come back to this later. The ventilation settings are physical and thus serve the purpose of ergonomics. As a “Simply clever” product, the city car goes even further to facilitate the life of its occupants. It is by exploring all the little touches that one feels the delicate intelligence of the Fabia. The ice scraper in the fuel filler, the umbrella in the driver’s door, the clever cup holder, the modular boot, the ticket holder on the windscreen, the windscreen washer opening that turns into a funnel… And the table service too? Negative. Go for the SNCF’s first class in this case. Oh dear, it’s true that there were no more trains in France for Christmas because of that strike… Gosh again.

Reasonably sporty

Forget about our rail friends and let’s get back to the interior presentation: the whole thing is modern and seriously assembled although it is the reign of hard brittle plastic. On this Monte Carlo trim level, red inserts brighten up the atmosphere. The same goes for the carbon-like plating on the dashboard. Special mention should be made of the bucket seats and the sports steering wheel which are also very nice. An ideal combo for braving the disaster of the base models that reek of abandoned decency. Yes, that’s it. I would also like to congratulate Škoda who managed to come up with an – almost – original name for their digital instrument cluster. Digital Cockpit sounds modern and doesn’t interfere with Audi’s Virtual Cockpit or Volkswagen’s Active Info Display. At SEAT, on the other hand, it’s the Digital Cockpit. It’s a good thing we’re in a family, because lawsuits would be exchanged like balls on the Centre Court. Anyway, let’s go back to this famous Digi’ Cockpit. Reactive and easy to read, it is a reference in the category. It is a little less true for the touch screen that is more like a hit-and-miss. On the plus side, it is very complete with beautiful graphics. On the other side, its ergonomics are not the best. The sub-menus pile up on top of each other like passengers – sardines? – of the London Tube during rush hour. At this rate, wouldn’t it be better to take the Fabia rather than the tube?

“Serious on the road too”

Far from promoting individual mobility, which clearly has no place in our cities, the Fabia nevertheless surprised me with its homogeneity. Despite the comfortable 150 PS and 250 Nm of torque, the city car is easy to drive. The 1.5 TSI knows how to behave: discreet and not very vibrant, it delivers its punch very gradually, which greatly limits jerkiness in town. My thanks to the DSG7 gearbox which is alert in all circumstances, except at very low speeds where it can be clumsy. On the other hand, the damping is very satisfactory whatever the speed, despite the Sport chassis and the 18-inch wheels of our test model. You can take advantage of the adaptive suspension option but I don’t think it’s essential as the filtration is so good. On the motorway, the soundproofing remains rather correct for the category with limited wind noise. And when it’s time for the twists and turns, is our Fabia precisely “Monte Carlo”? Not really, the Czech car has the annoying tendency to roll in curves and the steering is not communicative enough. A Monte Carlo badge on a car that is not sporty and it is the inevitable facepalm! Now imagine the basic version with 15 inch wheels, a nice little boat… Let’s finish on a good note: the consumption! 5.6 l/100km, quite simply. It’s going to be tough to do better.

The sweet one in a crowded field

The Škoda Fabia 1.5 TSI 150 Monte Carlo is a brilliant all-rounder in the city car category, offering its services for €27,220. When you add a few nice options, our model reaches €30,470. If you go to the neighboring SEAT, you’ll find the Ibiza 1.5 TSI 150 FR (€28,700, 150 PS) with a sportier temperament. But it is useless to go further in the group: the Volkswagen Polo no longer offers the 1.5 TSI while the Audi A1 is automatically out of the game because of its prices. So let’s look for something more original from Suzuki with the Swift Sport (20 250 €, 145 PS) at an extremely aggressive price. On the road, the Japanese car is much more playful than the Czech one, but it is less comfortable, less practical and imposes the manual gearbox. Renault offers the Clio TCe 140 RS Line (€26,500, 140 PS) with a high-end cabin but a manual gearbox that is again compulsory. Finally, you can take a look at the Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost 140 ST Line with its remarkable chassis. I said “you can” because the Fiesta has definitely left the oval’s catalogue and will not be replaced. Yes, it’s a tragedy. Press F to pay respect to the Fiesta as the youngsters would say.

In any case, I’ll have some more frozen logs. And add a Fabia to the list!

Strengths

  • Record-breaking spaciousness
  • Good level of comfort
  • Extensive equipment
  • Powerful and fuel-efficient engine

Weaknesses

  • Impersonal styling
  • Bland to drive

Verdict: 16,2/20 – Excellent

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