Of all the cars now sold by Skoda, it is the Fabia and its immediate forebears that best plot the manufacturer’s remarkable three-decade journey from nationalised crackpot to modernistic marvel.
The Favorit, a car that had been gestating in the communist industrial belly for almost a decade, may have been the butt of more than one joke in late-1980s Britain, but its front-engined, front-drive design was a technical breakthrough for the Czechs.
Similarly, its rehashed replacement, the Felicia, was the first Skoda to benefit from new owner Volkswagen’s input during its development – one reason why it began to top 1990s satisfaction surveys.
However, the Fabia, launched in 1999, was nothing short of revelatory. Using a platform so new that no other VW Group product had yet adopted it, the car showed not only what the new-millennium Skoda would be capable of but also the significance that its German parent was prepared to place on ensuring its progress.
If the second generation, with nearly a 50mm increase in height, was intended to excel in the sturdy Skoda standards of practicality and value, the third, launched late last year, is a carrier of fresh purpose. Style has become a significant part of the Fabia discussion as Skoda hopes to appeal to an audience slightly less mature than its retiree fan base.