What is it?
This is the latest version of Skoda’s Fabia estate, a car that is designed to offer a spacious and practical interior in conjunction with affordable running costs and a compact footprint.
It’s based on the recently launched third-generation Fabia hatchback, so uses elements of the previous Fabia’s platform and some from the more modern MQB platform used in a number of Volkswagen Group cars including the current VW Golf.
As well as more modern underpinnings, the new Fabia estate also benefits from a wider range of equipment, a new-generation engine line-up, improved aerodynamics, slightly improved interior space and reduced weight.
What's it like?
We tested an 89bhp four-cylinder 1.2-litre TSI turbocharged petrol version, with a manual gearbox and in flagship SE-L specification – which includes niceties such as climate control – and it quickly transpired that it was a very likeable car. For one thing, it’s a delight to drive thanks to its fine road manners and eager yet refined turbocharged engine.
Its steering may be a little light but it’s fast acting, precise and delivers just enough feedback let you know what’s happening up front. Traction and grip are rarely an issue, partly thanks to a standard XDS+ electronic differential system which, pleasingly, feels like an aid that works with you, rather than harshly adjusting your inputs to keep things in check.
The ride quality is acceptable, and body roll minimal in general driving, while the rest of the controls are easily judged and their responses prompt. It’s easy to drive, competent and safe, yet not entirely devoid of interest, in part thanks to the car's light-footed nature and eager TSI engine.
It’s this engine that Skoda expects to be one of the most popular. It delivers adequate punch in a smooth fashion and has enough mid-range torque to prevent you from having to change gears all the time. During hard acceleration it even emits a purposeful growl, adding to the Fabia’s endearing nature.
In the cabin you’ll find that there’s plenty of space up front and a decent range of adjustments for both the seats and steering column, making it easy to find a comfortable driving position. Visibility is good all round and about the only minor point is that the front seats could do with some additional side support. Sure, some of the materials used aren’t particularly tactile, but the flipside is that they should last well. Regardless, the cabin is smartly styled and neatly detailed for a small hatchback.
Even in the back there’s still a sensible amount of room, with just enough headroom for those up to six feet tall and, equally, acceptable leg room if you’ve a six-foot-tall driver in the front. You can just about sit three adults abreast, too, if the need arises.
There’s a vast amount of storage space on offer. The Fabia estate offers a 530-litre boot with the rear seats up, or 1395 litres with the seats folded down. For comparison, a larger Ford Focus estate offers 476 and 1502 litres respectively. There are myriad other practical touches around, such as a load bay cover, a parking ticket holder and numerous storage points.
Should I buy one?
Ultimately there’s very little in the way of direct competition for the Skoda Fabia Estate, outside of the Seat Ibiza ST – a car launched some five years ago, and one that feels predictably dated alongside the new Skoda.
So if you’re looking for a new and eminently practical small estate car, it’s well worth considering this new Fabia, and particularly with this powertrain. It may even be worthy of consideration by those looking at larger estates, such as the aforementioned Focus, thanks to its comparable load bay volume.
Skoda Fabia Estate 1.2 TSI 90 SE L
Price £15,385; Engine 4 cyls, 1197cc, turbocharged, petrol; Power 89bhp at 4400-5400rpm; Torque 118lb ft at 1400-3500rpm; Gearbox 5-spd manual; Kerb weight 1109kg; Top speed 115mph; 0-62mph 11.0sec; Economy 60.1mpg; CO2/tax band 107g/km, 14 per cent