2022 Skoda Fabia Review

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Skoda Fabia 2022 Review 1

The new Skoda Fabia has all the credentials to challenge the very best rivals in its class.

The Skoda Fabia has become a byword for an affordable, practical hatchback. If you’re a small-car buyer that has a head-over-heart philosophy, it’s a model that has long since earned its place right towards the top of your shortlist. And many people clearly are that type of buyer; the Czech brand has shifted 4.5 million Fabias since the first model made its debut back in 1999.

More than two decades down the line, we’ve reached the fourth-generation model that is on track to arrive in Australia in early 2022. From our first encounter with the car in Europe, it shows that in one or two areas, it might have just upped the desirability stakes too. And we’re not just talking about the love-or-loathe Phoenix Orange paint job (we’re very much in the former camp).

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Under the skin, there are significant changes relative to the old model, though few come as a big surprise. The fourth-gen Fabia finally sees the model move onto the Volkswagen Group MQB-A0 platform that has been used by the VW Polo and the SEAT Ibiza for a couple of years.

MQB-A0 brings plenty of benefits over the old PQ26 platform. It’s not just more rigid than the old car – improving refinement, road holding and safety – but it’s also lighter. As a result, even though the new model is 111mm longer than its predecessor, it weighs roughly the same.

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That extra length translates well to the Fabia’s cabin, because it feels spacious compared with the outgoing car, and most superminis in general. Kneeroom is excellent for a car of this size – not quite as roomy as mainstream hatchbacks from the segment above, but on a par with premium models like the Mercedes A-Class. Headroom is absolutely fine, too, even when equipped with the huge panoramic glass roof of our test car. At 380 litres, the boot is among the best in the segment. It’s also identical to what you’ll get from a Volkswagen Golf. In fact, it’s so spacious inside that you might begin to question why you’ll need to bother stretching the budget towards a conventional family hatchback.

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The same goes for the quality. Skoda’s recent releases, the Octavia and fully electric Enyaq included, feel a cut above the equivalent VW products inside – and the Fabia is no different. The understated yet logical layout looks neat and is finished with fairly high quality materials; the fabric trim across the dash feels like a smart touch.

It’s not quite on the level of the current poshest option in the segment, the Peugeot 208, but it’s able to compete with and feels more fancy than the Polo. It does appear that the budget for the best materials had run out by the time the trimmers reached the back though; the rear door cards are moulded from a piece of hard, scratchy plastic.

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The infotainment set-up is the latest generation of the VW Group’s tech. That is to say, it looks great and the graphics are sharp, but it’s perhaps not quite as quick to load and respond as some rival systems. Higher-spec models now come with a 10-inch Virtual Cockpit digital driver’s display. It’s the best of its type in the segment, offering plenty of different screen layouts and easy-to-read information.

The engine line-up is petrol only, and buyers are offered a 1.0-litre unit in a choice of four power outputs. Australian specifications are yet to be confirmed. The two least potent are likely off the table for Australia while forced induction introduces the 70TSI and 81TSI with outputs of 70kW and 81kW respectively; the latter is the option that’s driven here. Next year, a larger 1.5-litre turbo will also join the range; this will offer 110kW and a sub-eight second 0-100km/h time. At this stage there’s no hybridisation of the Fabia, and unlike with rivals like the 208, no diesel or fully electric options, either.

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The engine is a smooth, relaxing unit, and, returning nearly 5.1L/100km on a motorway cruise, proved to be very frugal, too. The three-cylinder unit might be small, but it only really makes its presence felt under hard acceleration; otherwise it’s very subdued. In fact, at higher cruising speeds it’s drowned out by road noise – partly because the engine is so quiet and partly because there’s a little more road rumble than we’d like.

That aside, it’s impressively comfortable by supermini standards. The ride is towards the softer end of the segment, and paired with the 16-inch alloy wheels on our test car, it delivers a relaxing drive. As with previous Fabias, sharp handling isn’t really on the agenda, so you get numb steering and a neutral balance.

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Australian equipment is yet to be announced but on the list from base grade up are LED headlights, auto emergency braking and a lane-keep assist system, 6.5-inch infotainment system and air conditioning. Above that are cosmetic tweaks like black 16-inch wheels and privacy glass, plus a 10-inch Virtual Cockpit display and keyless start.

It looks like Skoda is onto another winner with the Skoda Fabia. It’s among the most spacious superminis in the segment, has some great tech within a well-finished cabin, and proves to be comfortable and – minor question marks over road noise aside – refined, too. It looks like a real, credible threat to others.

2022 Skoda Fabia specifications as tested

Model: Skoda Fabia 1.0 81TSI
Price: TBC
Engine: 1.0-litre 3cyl turbo petrol
Power: 81kW/200Nm
Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
0-100km/h: 10.0 seconds
Top speed: 210km/h
Economy/CO2: 5.6L/100km, 128g/km
On sale: Q2 2022

Alex Ingram

Final Verdict:
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