What is it?

An all-new diesel version of Skoda’s cheap and cheerful Fabia supermini.

The Czech car-maker has at last got around to dumping the VW Group’s noisy old two-valve pumpe duse diesels from the Fabia’s engine range. As of now, all Fabia diesels will be powered by the same 1.6-litre commonrail TDi engine, complete with direct injection and four valves per cylinder.

We’re testing a mid-spec Fabia SE with a range-topping 105bhp diesel engine. Cheaper 75bhp and 90bhp tunes are available, but all of them emit the same 109g/km of CO2 and according to Skoda, all are capable of the same 67.3mpg fuel economy return.

If you’ve spotted Skoda’s 2010 cosmetic revisions to the Fabia, congratulations. There’s a wider radiator grille and redesigned headlights up front, intended to inject some badly needed attitude and presence into the car’s visual character.

What’s it like?

Comfy, sensible, spacious and well turned out; everything we’ve come to expect from a Fabia, really.

Although it’s only four metres long, it’s remarkable how roomy this car feels, and how comfortable it makes you once you’re settled in. Generous leg-, shoulder- and headroom give you the impression that you’re driving a larger car, as does the prodigiously adjustable driving position.

On the move, the Fabia retains a certain consistency, solidity and precision in its primary controls that owners of both the current Fabia and the new VW Polo will recognise. Although not exactly an engaging or entertaining drive, it steers with reassuring predictability, handles with unerring stability and rides with quiet compliance: all are dynamic virtues rarely offered by a budget brand, but rarely missed by Skoda.

One thing the Czech brand hasn’t quite got to grips with yet is mechanical refinement. Given its lesser swept volume, more modern injection system and significantly lower compression ratio than the Fabia’s outgoing 1.9-litre diesel, we expected a quieter and slightly smoother performance from the Fabia’s new 1.6-litre TDi.

In reality, it feels only marginally more hushed than the old lump, and despite that extra helping of torque, no more tractable in the real world.

The figures confirm our suspicions. The Fabia is actually a tenth slower to 62mph in 1.6-litre TDi CR 105 guise than it was as a 1.9-litre TDi PD 105.

However, it’s certainly frugal: our brand new, still tight test car got within 2mpg of its 55.3mpg urban mpg claim in town motoring, and we could well imagine cracking 65mpg on a motorway run. And lower carbon emissions mean this new diesel Fabia is £70 a year cheaper on annual VED road tax than the one it replaces.

Should I buy one?

If you’re after a bargain, absolutely. On paper, the Fabia we’ve tested here is significantly cheaper, cleaner, more frugal and more powerful than almost every like-for-like rival you can compare it with, and in the real world it seems comfortable, practical, well-mannered and well screwed together.

Spending every day in this car could leave you wanting a more involving driving experience or a natch more mechanical refinement, but little else.

Perhaps more concerningly – and admittedly somewhat subjectively – if you’re not already collecting your pension, driving a Fabia could suggest to your friends and family that you’ve grown old and boring before your time. That’s because this car’s biggest problem, to this tester’s eyes, remains its staid, conservative and resolutely sensible image.

There is very little that’s youthful, fashionable or stylish about the Fabia. You couldn’t spend a week in one without looking at grey nylon clothing in a whole new light.

Still, to those immune from such considerations, we’d heartily recommend it.

Matt Saunders

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Comments
62

Re: Skoda Fabia 1.6 TDI SE

3 years 43 weeks ago

Not sure I agree with the conclusion about image. I think the whole point with Skoda is that most of the owners don't give a damn about the image, they buy it for the quality and the price. It's not a brand for the insecure who feel a need to impress others.

Re: Skoda Fabia 1.6 TDI SE

3 years 43 weeks ago

I do think the sweet spot in the range is the 1.2TSI SE - either in 85bhp or 105bhp tune. 53mpg and £800 cheaper in 105 guise, £1400 in 85 guise. Just throw in the £500 safety pack for ESP and curtain airbags and you're laughing. Especially as Skoda are still offering 17.5% off all their cars - so just over £10k for a very decent car.

Re: Skoda Fabia 1.6 TDI SE

3 years 43 weeks ago

it takes 5 years of ownership at average miles to even break even compared to the 1.2 tsi 105bhp SE. and residuals are the same on petrols and diesels ( have been for a few years).

So only worth considering if you do above average mileage every year. And dont mind the unrefined nature of diesel engines (and giving lung cancer to children).

Re: Skoda Fabia 1.6 TDI SE

3 years 43 weeks ago

I am amazed there is still this prejudice against diesels. I'm really not sure what to put it down to. A complete lack of experience or sheer bloody mindedness is all i can come up with.

I drove a new Golf 1.6 TDi for 400 miles in 2 days this week and found it extremely refined, fast and economical. I wouldn't even consider the petrol version over the diesel. And i'm not a high mileage driver, I just appreciate the no-nonsense power delivery modern diesels offer. And the incredible potential for economy is just a bonus.

Re: Skoda Fabia 1.6 TDI SE

3 years 43 weeks ago

Buzz Cagney wrote:

I am amazed there is still this prejudice against diesels. I'm really not sure what to put it down to. A complete lack of experience or sheer bloody mindedness is all i can come up with.

I drove a new Golf 1.6 TDi for 400 miles in 2 days this week and found it extremely refined, fast and economical. I wouldn't even consider the petrol version over the diesel. And i'm not a high mileage driver, I just appreciate the no-nonsense power delivery modern diesels offer. And the incredible potential for economy is just a bonus.

Beachalnd trolls every post containing mention of diesel vehicles, its become one of the little nuances of the forum.

As you rightly say there is more to it than the cold hard facts of comparing stats. Even though attaining a good high average of fuel economy is much easier in a diesel, compared to a similar perol. You can easily reach or beat the official figures if you chose to do so. Of course there is then the pure difference in driving characteristic that appeals to many people, especially as you grow out of the little boy racer phase of your motoring life. I find on the motorways its much more relaxed to just move your foot 1/4 inch and regain speed with the extra low down torque of a diesel. The running cost argument is a really stupid one as we only base a small amount of our car needs on this, most of us chose a car for the way we want to drive and the needs of our lives, something that you can't always quantify by reading the stats in the back of the mag. Using that logic no one would every buy anything more than a 1.0 yaris etc... Visiting petrol stations less frequently is also a bonus I like with a diesel, I can't stand filling up.

Re: Skoda Fabia 1.6 TDI SE

3 years 43 weeks ago

beachland2 wrote:
it takes 5 years of ownership at average miles to even break even compared to the 1.2 tsi 105bhp SE. and residuals are the same on petrols and diesels

Not everybody buys diesels because of the extra mpg, although its a factor its not the only reason. There are some drivers who like the flexibility and torque of a diesel engine, not to mention the lower cruising revs which makes a long journey much less tiresome than 3,500-4000 revs that most petrols push out between the 70 and 80 mark.

I personally would pay the extra for a diesel engine, and in fact im not sure i could even go back to petrol now.

As for the point about petrols having the same residuals as diesels its absolute rubbish, i have worked in the motor industry for many years and i can tell you in 100% of cars the diesel always has a higher book price than a petrol, and in some excecutive models petrol engines are the kiss of death.

Re: Skoda Fabia 1.6 TDI SE

3 years 43 weeks ago

I think the fabia actually looks cooler then the VW Polo which looks like German briefcase, it looks a lot more youthful and fresh perfect for younger drivers who want a new car without the worry of high running costs, only if the kids thought skoda was cool would be a lot better for them

Re: Skoda Fabia 1.6 TDI SE

3 years 43 weeks ago

beachland2 wrote:
So only worth considering if you do above average mileage every year. And dont mind the unrefined nature of diesel engines (and giving lung cancer to children).
It's not that simple at all. Diesel residuals ARE generally better than their petrol equivalents. People buy diesels for the power benefits, economy benefits and cheaper tax. We had a 1.2 TSI Yeti as a courtesy car - averaged just 34 MPG and had to keep filling it up. In contrast, our TDI VRS Octavia always manages 50 MPG. So people buy diesels because they don't have to keep refuelling, they get more miles to the gallon and tax bands are often lower (£20 for a diesel Fabia I think). Yes, some petrol cars are perfectly economical (Aygo - £20 tax, always 50+ mpg), but it's just not as simple as "only high mileage drivers need apply". Many people just like to get good fuel economy, and if it means paying a premium, so be it.

"The creative adult is the child who survived."

Re: Skoda Fabia 1.6 TDI SE

3 years 43 weeks ago

andrepaul999 wrote:
As for the point about petrols having the same residuals as diesels its absolute rubbish, i have worked in the motor industry for many years and i can tell you in 100% of cars the diesel always has a higher book price than a petrol

You must have been working ineptly for all those years. petrols lose less money than diesels because they cost less to buy.

take for example the fabia

a 2007 1.2 has lost £4k from new trade in.

the 2007 1.4 diesel of the same power and spec has lost £4.5k from new. £500 worse off for owning the diesel, in only 3 years.

Also after 3 years the 1.6 105bhp petrol lost £5k the 1.9 105bhp pd diesel lost £5.5k. another £500 loss come trade in. a diesel is not only crap it eats your money away in depreciation not to mention higher servicing costs.

so i think what you are saying is rubbish.

Re: Skoda Fabia 1.6 TDI SE

3 years 43 weeks ago

The 1.6 TDI might not be a big step over the old 1.9TDI but I would imagine that it is over the 3 cylinder 1.4 TDI which used to sit lower down the Fabia range and was noisy and laggy.

Regarding the perceived frumpiness of the Fabia; I do think the facelift is an improvement but if Skoda UK let us have some of the bigger wheel and more exciting colour options than you can get in Europe it might be seen differently:

http://www.skoda-auto.cz/cze/model/newfabia/equipment/pages/sportline.aspx

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