The Fabia is a strong small car that protects the adult occupants well. The optional passenger’s airbag has shown to give some additional protection by reducing the passenger’s chest loading. The child restraints that are designed to fit onto special points in the passenger seats did not work well. The advice on which seats to use was also confusing and could lead to very poor performance.
A driver’s airbag is standard and this worked well in protecting the head and chest. The front seat belts are fitted with pretensioners and the driver’s belt is also load limiting. The pretensioners are designed to limit forward movement in the event of a crash. There was no evidence of a chest strike on the steering wheel. A passenger’s airbag is an option that Skoda asked Euro NCAP to test and these results are also included. The benefit of a passenger’s airbag may be better seen in other crash configurations although in our test the passengers chest loading was slightly decreased. Hard structures under the facia were hazardous to the driver’s knees, but the lower legs and feet were reasonably well protected. Only a simple two point static belt was fitted in the centre rear seat, which can cause severe spinal and abdominal injuries.
The dummy’s head contacted the front face of the central door pillar where some foam in the pillar prevented any serious injury. There is no side impact airbag as standard equipment and the chest took the highest load contacting the seat wing, central door pillar and the incoming door. The abdomen was also loaded by the door trim below the armrest. The loading on the chest was reduced by an interaction between the dummy and seat structure that could not occur with a human torso. However the overall performance for a car without a side airbag was creditable.
A passenger airbag is an option and Skoda need to take seriously the risk to children in rear facing child restraints fitted onto the front passenger’s seat. Only a poorly understood pictogram and a removable label on the windscreen were fitted and neither explained the risk of serious injury or death. Skoda are constrained to use the child restraints developed for the Volkswagen group and this caused problems as the new restraints, developed for use with points built into the passenger seats, did not work well. In fact the forward facing ‘Britax Römer Prince’ seat that is available for children of weight of 9-18kg when used with the 18-month-old almost completely ejected the dummy on rebound. Subsequent to this test, these restraints were found not to be approved for the Fabia and have been withdrawn from sale for the Fabia model. Although Skoda does have more suitable rear facing restraints for this size of child their literature does not provide any warning of the potential hazard.
The pedestrian protection on the Fabia is very similar to many cars of this size. Most of the benefits come some softer bonnet areas and from the fact that the glassed areas are seen as not giving rise to an increased risk of injury. Most of the front of the car was very stiff and unforgiving.