What is it?
It’s been a long time coming, given that its predecessor has done the rounds for 7 years. The Skoda range has swollen considerably since then, but no one should doubt the continued importance of its supermini – in the UK alone, the brand expects it make up a quarter of sales next year.
Appropriate, then, that all the right noises have emerged from the company in the build-up to this preview. Stronger, stiffer and lighter have been the buzzwords. Bigger, too. And, mercifully, prettier. Skoda is keen to lower the age of the average Fabia buyer, and the redesign was considered necessary in order to do so.
Thus there are creases and crispness where there was none before, resulting in a much sharper look – something aided further by a 31mm lower ride height. But the real coup is the 90mm of lane-filling extra width the car receives.
There are further dimensional shifts; the wheelbase has been marginally lengthened and the front overhang slightly shrunk – although the car isn’t really any longer. Skoda is at some pains to stress the newness underneath, although it’s certainly true that the pick ‘n’ mix architecture owes as much to its predecessor’s platform as it does to the MQB’s modularity.
The result is impressive all the same; the judicious application of lightweight, high-strength steel in the construction delivering a starting kerb weight of just 980kg for car with the 1.0-litre petrol engine tested here – just 50kg more than the equivalent VW Up.
The three-pot, new to the Fabia, will likely be the best seller, although it’s flanked by a completely refreshed and attractive all-EU6 lineup. This includes the latest versions of the 1.2-litre TSI four-cylinder unit, and the ultra-efficient 1.4-litre three-cylinder diesel motor – already seen in the revised Polo. Next year, in Greenline format, it will deliver 82g/km of CO2, but Skoda claims an average drop of 17 percent even without its parsimony.
There’s a predictable flush of new equipment and safety features thanks to a raiding of the MQB parts bin, and the manufacturer has pimped the Fabia’s largest touchscreen with the option of its new Mirrorlink system that reproduces your smartphone’s display.
That means there's no need to opt for an additional sat-nav system or software pack, of which the customer take up was typically low. The bugs still need weeding out though; it’s currently Android-only, meaning that an iPhone foxes it completely.