While driving a supermini from just a decade ago meant a serious compromise in practicality, times are changing. Every class of car seems to get gradually bigger, and with increased platform sharing and the use of common parts, even superminis are becoming ‘supermaxi’. Our Mk4 Fabia is a case in point, being just about the most practical supermini on the market. In fact, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to consider it when replacing your old Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf or Vauxhall Astra.
Let’s look at the numbers, just to show you I’m not hallucinating. While my old Mk1 Fabia TDI measured a dainty 3,960mm from tip to tail, the new Fabia smashes through the four-metre barrier at 4,108mm in length. It’s also a whopping 135mm wider than the original Fabia, because its MQB A0 platform is essentially a rejigged version of the architecture found under the Golf and Audi A3.
Impressively, the Fabia still feels like a dainty, fleet-footed supermini to drive and park, but it’s inside where the new Skoda really impresses. There’s now much more rear space than before and its back doors open to almost 90 degrees for easy access. With the Fabia currently my main car, a recent summer day out to the zoo saw us loading the car with two teenage relatives and an adult in the back seat, along with luggage for a day trip, and after more than an hour of driving each way, there were no complaints. The back seat pockets were easily big enough to swallow a Nintendo Switch and various battery packs and cables, but the lack of USB-C chargers for rear passengers didn’t go unnoticed. There are rear air vents to help those in the back stay cool, but the transmission hump that runs through the centre is a bit larger than is ideal for the middle passenger.
Up front, there’s heaps of space, a giant glovebox, and even some handy storage areas like a cubby ahead of the gear lever that’s ideal for whatever’s normally in your pockets. A second hidden compartment to the right of the steering wheel is also particularly useful for loose change and has a built-in card slot, which is a lifesaver if you’re the sort of person who’s prone to leaving a bulky wallet at home and just taking a debit card. It’s not perfect though, and the most annoying oversight is the dainty cupholders. While these work okay for a can of coke or fast food cup, my coffee travel mugs are too wide to fit.
Measuring 380 litres, the Fabia’s boot is seriously impressive, being roughly on par with both the Volkswagen Golf and ID.3 from the class above. While some non-hybrid versions of the Renault Clio offer even more space (391 litres), I’ve found the Fabia’s lower loading lip and larger hatchback make access easier than the Clio, so it’s better suited to tip runs and carrying bulky boxes.
It has certainly been put to the test already, carrying not only sacks of garden cuttings, but also shrugging off an Ikea run to buy a set of rather aptly named ‘Ingolf’ dining chairs. I can also attest that the sturdy-looking rear curry hooks have been put to the test rather frequently of late, too.
Arrived 5th April 2023
Price when new £18,690
Price as tested £19,350
Economy 55.4mpg (combined) 43.9mpg (on test)
Costs None Faults None