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The new Fabia takes the old pragmatism upmarket and rocks the supermini segment in the process, eclipsing rivals that once had a tight grip on the market

Of all the cars now sold by the brand, it is the Skoda Fabia and its immediate forebears that best plot Skoda's remarkable three-decade journey from nationalised crackpot to modernistic marvel.

The Skoda 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 2007-2014 Skod Fabia , with nearly a 50mm increase in height, was intended to excel in the sturdy Skoda standards of practicality and value, the third Skoda Fabia, launched in late 2014, 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.

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Not that their concerns have been forgotten. The latest Skoda Fabia is on average 17 per cent more efficient than the car it replaces. Frugality is even more crucial to selling superminis in 2015 than it was 10 years ago, as evidenced by an engine line-up dominated by three-pots and shorn of a warmed-up vRS powerplant. As is the way of car development the Skoda Fabia is rapidly approaching its facelift, with the 2018 model breaking cover and will include more of the safety and intelligent features found on the larger Skoda Octavia.

Five trim levels are available: S, SE, Colour Edition, Monte Carlo and, replacing Elegance as the range-topper, SE-L. Our test car came thus equipped, along with the 1.2 TSI engine that is expected to make up a healthy proportion of Fabia sales.

 

Skoda Fabia 2014-2021 First drives