Alongside the Octavia, the Skoda Fabia supermini established the Czech firm's position within the Volkswagen Group as the budget-minded division. However, by the time the Fabia Mk3 arrived in 2014, Skoda had evolved and was embracing the philosophy of being 'Simply Clever'. As a result, the third-generation Fabia is a strong contender in the class – and just because of its pricing.
With practicality, efficiency and comfort on its side, the Skoda Fabia has a lot going for it. Rivals include the Volkswagen Polo and SEAT Ibiza, which use the same platform, while alternatives from other manufacturers include the Renault Clio, Peugeot 208, Citroen C3, Opel Corsa and Ford Fiesta. If you're looking for practicality and reliability, then there is a wave of far-Eastern models to consider, including the Toyota Yaris, Hyundai i20, Kia Rio, Mazda2, Nissan Micra, Honda Jazz and Suzuki Swift.
What's it like?
The third-generation Fabia arrived in 2014 with an evolution of the Mk2's platform, rather than replacing it with the new MQB underpinnings used by the Ibiza and Polo that arrived a year later. As a result, the Fabia came as a five-door hatchback or estate, making it one of the more practical superminis for sale.
Engines comprised 1.0- and 1.2-litre petrol options or a 1.4-litre diesel, although by the time the Fabia was replaced by the Mk4 in 2021, only the 1.0-litre three-cylinder engines remained. The 1.0-litres came in naturally aspirated MPI or turbocharged TSI guises, while the TSI petrol engines and TDI diesels could be had with Skoda's seven-speed DSG twin-clutch automatic gearbox. Unlike previous generations, there was no faster RS variant.
Which model to go for?
The Fabia is a surprisingly practical small family car, especially if you choose the estate. Trim levels are identical for both body styles, with Active models being pretty spartan, including plastic wheel trims instead of alloys. Ambition models come with essentials such as parking sensors and Bluetooth, while Style versions add climate control, keyless entry and starting plus smartphone compatibility on later cars.
The 1.0 MPI petrol engines are pretty gutless, so we'd pay the extra for the 1.0 TSI versions - they're more powerful for everyday use, yet deliver similar fuel economy to the MPI units.
The 95hp TSI will be plenty powerful enough for most needs, but the 1.2 TSI four-cylinder is a smoother unit, if you can find one. We'd only recommend the diesel if you cover a lot of long distances, because otherwise it's a noisy unit that doesn't offer much more punch than the 1.0 TSI.
Some UK cars have made it to market in different trim specs, including SE and SE L. Meanwhile, the Monte Carlo cars look sporty, but they come with the same small engines as the rest of the range.
Does anything go wrong?
Reliability will be reasonable rather than stellar, but keep the Fabia maintained properly and things should be fine. There have been just two recalls on this generation of Fabia, one for issues relating to the driver's airbag, the other for loose screws on the camshaft adjuster that could cause an oil leak.