Skoda was and still is a true example of a success story.
Revived from an almost forgotten Czech car industry, Skoda has become a major player in the car world. You can see the complete history of the Skoda Fabia on Wikipedia.
In the used car market, it has made a good position for itself defined by low price decline, good sales and satisfied drivers.
In this article we’ll be talking about a used Skoda Fabia (model 1999-2007).
The review and advice that you’ll read solely comes from my own experience as an owner and user.
I own a 2004 Skoda Fabia estate with the 1.4 liter 16 valve 100 bhp engine. It’s gray-metallic and has the Comfort trim level.
Also, I was able to drive other Fabia’s with different engines and trim levels.
So, hope to be able to paint a realistic picture about the good sides of this car and what it can offer you.
This is where Skoda Fabia is king of the realm.
These cars have a good reputation of not letting their owner down.
The key reason here, in my opinion is quality build. Look around, inside and under the car and you’ll see what I mean. Everything is well put together and done with quality material.
I get the notion that the VW group did their best to get this car and the brand a good reputation.
The fact that the Fabia was made, with some minor changes, from 1999-2007 speaks for itself!
Also what’s interesting is that the whole time of the model production, quality stayed the same or better.
You just have to look how many companies chose this model for their fleet car. There, only quality cars can survive.
So, with the Fabia you’ll get good engines, good anti-corrosion protection, simple maintenance and other things that make the Fabia a best friend in a drivers life.
2.Good value for money
In the used car market, good value for money is what people are looking for.
Everyone wants most for their money and this is one of the reasons why the Skoda Fabia is very popular.
The buyer gets most for his/her money. In one package you get quality build, reliability, low-cost maintenance and a good resale price!!
If you find it in a good condition, a used Skoda Fabia can serve you well for at least five years or longer with no major problems.
If that isn’t a good package I don’t know what is.
3.Cost of maintenance
This varies worldwide depending on various factors such as: market presence, type of engine (diesel, petrol), road and fuel quality in your country etc.
All in all, if the market is acquainted to the car, maintenance costs will be average or under average. Rarely above.
Replacement parts are pretty easy to find and mechanics are familiar with this car. This is mostly due to sharing the same platform with other Volkswagen cars which is a huge advantage.
By the way, since we’ve touched the topic, try to find the best replacement parts you can on the market (preferably original, although they are much more expensive). Also, don’t cheap out on things like oil and filters.
Every cent you invest in quality parts, the Fabia will give back through reliability.
Since the topic is maintenance, I’ve noticed a few things that you should pay attention to :
- Front bushings on all variants are prone to failure but the replacement shouldn’t give you a headache.
- Watch out for the 1.2 three cylinder version. It’s quite underpowered so people tend to “rev” the hell out of it. Thoroughly check the engine condition when buying a used one.
- Watch out for the dual mass flywheel on the 130 bhp engine (VRS model). The replacement of the dual mass flywheel is very costly.
All of the other maintenance such as regular tune-ups, brakes, clutch etc. is , as I’ve mentioned,average or under average.
4.Road handling of the Skoda Fabia
Skoda Fabia drives like a big car although it’s treated and classified as a small, city car.
Most manufacturers, when buliding small city cars, hold back on things such as sound insulation, cabin materials, undercarriage trimming etc. Also, due to the sheer size and weight of cars in this class, the handling tends to be worse then with upper class cars.
The end result is that you simply feel, hear and know that you’re driving a lower segment car.
This isn’t the case with the Fabia. It’s made in such a manner, that besides the size, you can’t make much of a difference from driving a Octavia, which is in higher class.
Straight line driving feels like you’re on railroad tracks. Very stable car despite the size.
Cornering can be done in a serious manner, so if you happen to overdo getting in to a curve, the Fabia shouldn’t let you down. In a combination with the ASR or ESP (in some models), the Fabia will forgive your inadvertence.
So; it’s not a race car but isn’t afraid of some serious driving.
Thanks to the reputation Skoda has built for itself in the past years, it has huge authority on the used car market (not same in every country).
This means that you’ll probably get a good amount of money when you want to sell your Fabia.
If you bought a new one
This is a rough estimate but: if you buy a new one, in, let’s say, five years you can probably return fifty to even seventy percent of your money (depending on the condition of the car).
Unlike other cars whose prices plummet after a few years (like Fiat, Alfa Romeo, BMW etc), the Fabia’s price has a slow decline rate.
If you own a used one
Don’t know about you, but two things are most important to me on this topic:
- Good possibility of a quick sale:if I need the money, I can get it quickly. Either to buy another car or else, there shouldn’t be a problem with cashing in. Again, highly depending on your car market.
- Good money return : maybe my example is best : I’ve bought a 14-year-old car and paid a good sum of money for it. I have a realistic expecting to get back at least 50 percent of my money in 5 or six years. The Fabia holds its ground very well and if you take good care of the car, you can expect a good return.
To conclude this topic; Skoda Fabia was, is and probably will be a best buy car.
6.Wide range of options and combinations (engines, accessories,trim levels etc.)
Skoda didn’t invent the wheel in this case.
When this model was popular many manufacturers offered a wide variety of engines, accessories, trim levels etc.
But that’s not my point here. My point is that Skoda so harmonically put these options together and packaged them so well, that you’d have a hard time picking what you want.
I’ll highlight two of the most important parts :
Three basic trim levels, Classic, Comfort, Elegance. You’ll mostly find Comfort and Elegance in the used market. Comfort trim level will satisfy your needs very well but Elegance is where you get it all.
People avoid the basic Classic trim (lots of cars with Classic trim don’t have air condition, power windows etc).
There’s a wide pallet of engines (sixteen I think!) so it shouldn’t be a problem to find what suits you.
It starts from the perhaps underpowered 1.2 liter three cylinder petrol engine and finishes with the 1.9 liter 130 bhp diesel engine.
All of them have their pros and cons. My advice, choose what you need, not like.
If you want a city car for strolling the basic 1.2 litre engine will be OK. If you’re driving a bit longer distances use the 1.4 liter 16V petrol or 1.9 SDI or TDI diesel engine (all original VW engines). If you want to go exotic and have a pocket rocket then buy the 130 bhp engine.
I’d also like to mention the 1.4 MPI engine (derived from Skoda itself, not from VW). Also very popular and used engine although sluggish and with poor fuel economy.
The 2.0 petrol engine, although good, is very rare so I’d give it a pass.
My humble opinion: the two best engine versions are the 1.9 TDI (100 bhp) and the 1.4 16 valve (100 bhp) VW engines. These have, perhaps the best ratio in durability, power, economy and cost of maintenance.
7.Overall practicality of the Skoda Fabia estate version
The estate version of the Skoda Fabia is perhaps on of the best compromises between practicality and a good ride.
Skoda was one of the rare car manufacturers who decided to do an estate version in this segment.
This was probably because of the sheer size of the car. Who needs a small estate anyway?
Well…… as it turns out, lots of people.
You see, big estates are OK, but they tend to be cumbersome, have blind spots for parking (this goes double for newer models), less fuel economy etc.
My point: if you’re not using it’s full potential it’s not that worth owning. Unless you’re a huge estate fan.
But what if you need something that is both smaller, more economical (fuel and maintenance wise) but has all the practicality of a big estate?
Here’s where the Fabia estate comes in. You get all of the advantages of the estate minus the big size and complications.
If you fold down the seats, you can get loading space which can handle a refrigerator, washing machine, work material etc. Let’s be honest, we need this lots of times.
When the seats are up, you can pack up four family members and a reasonable amount of luggage. It is a bit crammed, but believe me there is space enough for a decent travel.
In case of the Skoda Fabia, you drive a small car but have a big one when you need it.