In around 12 months’ time, the all-new Fabia will arrive in Skoda showrooms. About time, too, since the current, third-generation model under discussion here will, by then, be six years old. Still, it has done a great job of connecting Skoda’s supermini with a younger audience.
Being a Skoda, it’s a sturdy rather than plush motor but practical with a large boot and good rear cabin space; reliable, too, as its strong showing in surveys attests. It’s also great value. Prices start from around £4500 for a 2015-reg 1.0 MPI 60 S, the entry-level model. This version is okay for scooting around town, but the engine is underpowered and hobbled by being paired with a tallish five-speed gearbox. That didn’t stop it selling well from new, though, and there are lots to choose from all the way to 2018 when it was dropped at the facelift.
There’s a punchier 74bhp version badged 1.0 MPI 75 (it survived the facelift), but it’s rare, presumably because the 1.2 TSI, with 89bhp or 108bhp, was only a bit more expensive per month on a PCP finance deal. Whatever the reason, these two 1.2 TSI engines are the ones to aim for, especially the 108bhp (badged 110) that comes with a sixspeed gearbox. A 2016-reg 1.2 TSI 110 SE with 50,000 miles costs around £6500 and the lower-powered but more plentiful 90 SE about £500 less.
Which leaves the diesels. There are three, all 1.4s and producing 74bhp, 89bhp and 104bhp. We found a privately advertised 2015-reg 1.4 TDI SE 90 with 43,000 miles for just £4000 but, generally speaking, dealers ask from around £5500. It goes without saying that the diesels are best if your mileage is on the high side (they’ll do around 60mpg), but you’ll need to look hard for one, because they’re easily outnumbered by the petrols and were dropped with the 2018 facelift.
You want an automatic gearbox? The Volkswagen Group’s excellent DSG dual-clutch is available with the 108bhp 1.2 TSI and 89bhp 1.4 TDI. They’re reasonably plentiful and a 2015-reg 1.2 TSI 110 DSG with 30,000 miles costs around £7600 at a Skoda dealer. In 2017, just before the facelift, the 1.2 TSI petrols were replaced by torquier and more efficient 1.0 TSI units making 94bhp and 108bhp. As before, the more powerful engine has a six-speed gearbox and is our favourite for its better all-round performance. Pay from £7000 for an approved used 2017-reg 1.0 TSI 95 with 26,000 miles.
When it finally came, the facelift signalled the end of the 1.0 MPI 60 as well as both the diesel engines. The 1.0 MPI 75 was spared along with the new 1.0 TSI units. Meanwhile, the styling was tweaked and daytime running lights were added. SE-L trim was the biggest winner, gaining sat-nav and 16in alloys.
Engine Check the oil level; the smaller engines can consume one litre per 1000 miles. On the same subject, variable servicing means some Fabias may not have seen fresh oil for 20,000 miles or two years.
Body Some owners say the lightweight steel panels dent easily, so check their condition. Panel gaps can be irregular from the factory and not as a result of crash repairs.
Interior Check you can use the MirrorLink connection system and that things like window switches are still secure. Check if it has the optional full-size spare wheel (it was only around £70). Listen for cabin rattles from places such as where the windscreen and dashboard meet; the hard plastic trim doesn't inspire confidence in this respect.
Need to know
Beware the pre-2018 facelift 1.0-litre, three-cylinder 59bhp and 74bhp MPI petrol engines – they’re cheap but underpowered.
Hill-hold assist is an option on manuals but standard on the DSG.
Look out for cars with useful options including the Simply Clever pack (a net system and extra storage in the boot and a small door-mounted waste bin). A variable boot floor was another option. Check the standard-issue ice scraper is in the fuel filler.
In What Car?’s 2019 Reliability Survey, the Fabia came 10th out of 25 in the City and Small cars class.
Skoda Fabia 1.2 TSI 110 SE: Not only is this 108bhp unit a sweet motor but it also has a six-speed gearbox where 89bhp versions of the same engine have the long-legged five-speeder that blunts performance.
Skoda Fabia 1.0 MPI 60 S: Only wild in that this is the cheapest, slowest and least well-equipped Fabia of them all. Which is why, of all the versions, it best expresses the Skoda brand’s no-nonsense value.
Ones we found
2015 1.0 MPI 60 S, 88,000 miles, £4390
2016 1.2 TSI 110 SE, 35,000 miles, £6495
2017 1.4 TDI 105 Monte Carlo, 25,000 miles, £9700
2019 1.0 TSI 95 SE, 20 miles, £12,495