Skoda Fabia Estate SE 1.4 TDI DSG
In the right specification the Fabia Estate looks smart
- Impressive amount of space on offer
- Comfort and refinement are excellent
- Good equipment levels across the range
- Generally high level of quality
- Design can look awkward on small wheels
- Now the most expensive option in the admittedly small segment
- Smallest petrol unit feels a little underpowered
- No prospect of vRS version
Just a few months after the introduction of the third generation Fabia supermini Skoda has followed up the hatchback model with the introduction of an estate version. Although a relatively small niche in the market the previous generation version was the best seller in its class, so it's hardly surprising that the latest Fabia has spawned a load carrying version too.
One of the keys to the success of Skoda in the past two decades has been its ownership by the Volkswagen Group, giving it access to the latest technology, shared components and a wealth of experience of producing good quality vehicles. As with the previous generations, the Fabia shares a good deal with similarly-sized products elsewhere in the group; in this instance the Seat Ibiza ST is its closest rival.
As with the hatchback the Fabia Estate's exterior is all-new with an edgier look and the bigger family grille, all of which help its road presence and classy feel. Although there are slight increases in length and width the latest generation Fabia is up to 60kg lighter than before, depending on the model.
Inside the latest generation Fabia benefits from an all-new cabin which as well as offering improved space compared to the outgoing car. A key difference with the new model is also the deletion of built-in satellite navigation as an option and instead offering smartphone 'mirroring' to give buyers the facility for guided directions as well as features such as music streaming.
Mechanically the Fabia uses some technology from the previous car but also incorporates the latest architecture shared with the Volkswagen Polo. That results in updated suspension front and rear, as well as the latest generation of engines and gearboxes, giving the Fabia a more sophisticated feel.
Our verdict on the Skoda Fabia Estate SE 1.4 TDI DSG
Anyone looking for a small estate car may be limited in choice, but that doesn't stop the Fabia Estate being the stand out choice. It's impressively spacious for a car of its size yet doesn't sacrifice refinement or driving pleasure in the name of carrying capacity. It might be a little more expensive than key rivals but it feels worth the additional cost.
Running costs for the Fabia will be impressively low; both the petrol and diesel engines offer impressive fuel consumption and emissions performance, while insurance costs will be amongst the lowest available in the class.
Space and practicality
The Fabia Estate allows you to pack a remarkable amount into its modest exterior dimensions. There is sufficient space for four or even five adults at a push, while the boot is impressively spacious, holding as much or more than cars from the class above. There are also several clever features such as pockets on the inside edge of the front seats and a door pocket rubbish bin for example.
Controls and display
The cabin of the Fabia is simplicity itself, with only a handful of buttons and those are clearly labelled. The touchscreen system works well too, and the MirrorLink facility is easy to get to grips with. The only issue with the Fabia's display is the common Skoda fault that the rev counter and speedometer both use two digit numbers to mark each increment, which can make it hard to spot which is which at a glance.
The driving position in the Fabia Estate is excellent, with a reach and rake adjustable steering wheel and height adjustable driver's seat as standard on all models. Noise levels are reduced and the added refinement of the new engines contribute to greater comfort overall. The ride quality has also improved, which all adds up to make the Fabia Estate an impressively comfortable offering.
All Fabia models come with remote central locking as standard which incorporates an engine immobiliser. SE models and above add an alarm with interior monitoring, while top-specification SE L models are fitted with keyless entry and start. The load cover is secure and will protect the boot contents from prying eyes.
The Fabia has received a useful safety boost thanks to its re-engineered platform providing greater strength. In addition all Fabia models have a comprehensive suite of electronic safety systems including ESC and traction control, six airbags and tyre pressure monitoring also.
Despite the extra bodywork at the rear the Estate drives with the same ease and slickness that the hatchback enjoys. The diesel engine when combined with the DSG transmission provides brisk and efficient progress, while the suspension balances ride comfort with an impressive degree of handling prowess.
Family car appeal
Although the Fabia is a small car it makes good use of its available space, and for family duties the ease of access to the boot and its impressive size will be ideal, particularly for those with buggies. Even older children will have sufficient space in the back.
First car appeal
First-time car buyers would do well to consider the Fabia, as it ticks lots of the important boxes. It's easy and fun to drive, inexpensive to run and takes up little space on the road. New buyers will be more inclined to choose the hatchback, but the Estate offers a little more space for those who might need it.
Quality and image
With a constant push for improved quality it should come as no surprise to find the Fabia is even better finished than before. Although the Volkswagen Polo may be still be a step above, the cabin is impressively built from good quality materials. The Fabia has also played a big part in Skoda's much improved image and its appeal to younger buyers is impressive.
All Estate models have four passenger doors so access for front and rear passengers is easy, although there is less space in the footwell for rear passengers. Access to the boot is excellent, with the large tailgate opening high and well out of the way.
Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)
All versions of the Fabia gain the latest touchscreen system with higher specification models also featuring the MirrorLink system which gives owners of Android smartphones the ability to run apps on their phones via the touchscreen. There is also the facility for other smartphone operating systems to be controlled through the screen.
Colours and trim
Like most small cars the Fabia wears both bright and more sober hues well, but the sharper edges to the exterior design give it more presence and personality. Inside there are the usual greys and blacks but the strip of lighter coloured plastic across the dash helps to give it a lift and boost the feeling of quality.
The Estate is no harder to park than the hatchback; if anything it's a little easier as the more vertical tailgate makes it easier to judge where the rear of the car is. Parking sensors are standard on SE models and above.
Emergency tyre repair kit supplied as standard.
Petrol engine options - 1.0-litre (74hbp); 1.2-litre (89bhp and 109bhp). Diesel engine options - 1.4-litre (89bhp and 109bhp). Transmission options: five and six-speed manual plus seven-speed dual clutch automatic. Trim levels: S, SE, and SE L.
Seat Ibiza ST In-house rival is cheaper but not as well finished
Dacia Logan MCV Bargain-basement rival is excellent value for money
Ford Fiesta Best to drive in the class, decent value
Honda Jazz More of a practical hatchback than an estate, but very space efficient
Peugeot 2008 Crossover status means a smidgen of off-road ability but practical too