The Verdict

Skoda Fabia 2 1.4 TDI

You can't go wrong with a Skoda Octavia, but her younger sibling, the Fabia, needs to grow up a little before she gets the approval of David Wilkins


Specifications

Model: Skoda Fabia 2 1.4 TDI

Price: 11,175

Engine: 1.4 litre diesel

Performance: 0-62mph in 13.2 seconds, 61.4mpg

CO2: 120g/km

Worth considering: Renault Clio, Seat Ibiza, Volkswagen Polo

The job of a motoring writer has to be one of the best around, but it does have a big drawback: people are inclined to press you for car-buying recommendations. This is deeply hazardous territory. The consequences of lumbering a friend or even a total stranger with some fast-depreciating dud on the basis of favourable impressions gathered during a vaguely remembered road test are too awful to contemplate.

If it really is impossible to wriggle out of making a concrete recommendation, though, I say the same thing every time get a Skoda Octavia. I make this suggestion, firstly, because of this: most people who know anything about cars are aware of Skoda's transformation from market also-ran to front-runner, and are usually prepared to consider buying one but there's still a chance that they will be persuaded not to follow my advice by their auto-illiterate other-halfs or their brand-obsessed teenage children, getting me off the hook.

But the second reason I recommend the Octavia is that I that know anyone who buys one will end up secretly congratulating himself on a great choice every time he drives it, because that car represents a unique sort of budget-premium bargain that other manufacturers find it hard to match. Volkswagen technology and quality, combined with keen pricing and an exceptionally wide model range, means that there's an Octavia for everyone.

So what about the latest version of the Fabia tested here? In most respects, the Octavia's smaller stablemate reaches a similarly high standard. It shares many of the larger car's most desirable characteristics great build quality and practicality, for example and adds a few of its own; its upright packaging, for example, which makes it one of the easiest small cars to get in and out of, and its funky styling, similar to that seen on the innovative Roomster, are just two.

Quibbles? Well the mid-range "2" trim level of our test car had a two-tone interior colour scheme that features a lot of light grey plastic the all-dark grey dash of the "1" and "3" variants looks a lot more tasteful. Also, the diesel engine was a three cylinder unit personally I'm a big fan of the characterful engine note this layout provides but not everyone else is. Overall, though, it's still a great car.

If there's a real snag with the Fabia, it's not so much with the car itself but with Skoda's strangely compressed price structure. Our test car cost 11,175; that's a fair price against its competitors, but you could get an Octavia for that. I apologise for the monotony of my recommendations, but if you're looking for a bargain, the Fabia's bigger sister really is hard to beat.

David Healey, 49; Euan, 9; Calum, 11. David is a charity manager, Sutton Coldfield

Usual cars: Golf Mark III 1.9 diesel, Zafira 2.0 diesel



The Fabia's driving position was good, and the height-adjustable seats and steering wheel were welcome. Equipment, radio and trim are good quality, the controls clear and easily accessible. It has a sensible sized boot, but after the family Zafira my boys found the rear space cramped. I liked the turbo-diesel engine's torque, acceleration, excellent economy and low emissions, but the three-cylinder engine is noisier than a four, especially at low speed. This is, overall, a likeable, economical small car, but I'd shop around to see if I could find a bigger engined and thus quieter diesel for the same money.

Luke Noonan, 33, company director, Hemel Hempstead

Usual cars: Mercedes SLK, Peugeot 206



Although I know Skoda is owned by VW and has a reputation for quality, I did not expect to get much from this car, and I didn't. The diesel engine has a reasonable amount of poke initially but it loses interest when you push the revs up. The gearbox is sloppy at best, but worst of all is the interior. Simply and clearly laid out, yes, but the colour scheme and the plastics are dreary. On the plus side, the handling is firm and the car feels solid on the open road. I also noticed the MPG gauge on the dash moving into three figures on the motorway. Someone wanting a solid, value, small car with low CO2 emissions could consider this, but there are better, more attractive cars in this class.

Richard Wilkins, 43, IT consultant, London

Usual car: Skoda Octavia

From the outside this car looks fairly small, but once inside there was little difference, space-wise, from the larger model Skoda model I'm used to driving, even in the rear seats. Not having driven a diesel before, I did find the Fabia quite noisy at first, although, after I'd had it running for a while, it blended in with the inner-city noise and this was not so noticeable. The car handled well around the town and effortlessly climbed up local hills. Having lived for a time in Prague, my overall impression is that the Fabia is much like the Czech people who build it. It does an excellent job with the minimum of fuss, which, for a non-petrolhead like myself, is all that is needed from any car.

The Verdict

If you would like to take part, email motoring@independent.co.uk or write to: The Verdict, Features Department, Independent House, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS, giving your address, phone number and details of the car, if any, you drive. For most cars, participants must be over 26 and have a clean licence.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist / Physio / Osteopath

    £12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for o...

    Recruitment Genius: Account Manager / Sales Executive - Contract Hire

    £35000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leader provides c...

    Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

    £28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...

    Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - Midlands

    £20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Day In a Page

    John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

    Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

    'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
    Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

    Forget little green men

    Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
    Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

    Dying dream of Doctor Death

    Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
    UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

    39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

    There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
    Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

    Computerised cooking is coming

    From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
    Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

    Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

    The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
    Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

    Education: Football Beyond Borders

    Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
    10 best barbecue books

    Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

    We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
    Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

    ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

    Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
    Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

    Making of a killer

    What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
    UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

    Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

    Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
    Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most