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.
What's it like?
Wonderfully persuasive. My faint memory of the outgoing model is of a bony, narrow-bodied old crate lacking refinement and with a billowy attitude to body control. The new Fabia barely needs the thunk of slammed driver’s door to dispel that recollection.
Inside, it’s a proper new Skoda; by which I mean that it’s cleanly designed, neatly laid out and bolted together like a bunker. Even in range-topping Elegance trim there’s no soft touch furnishings – but there doesn’t need to be when the detailing and functionality are this immaculate.
Beyond the dashboard’s redesign, it’s the space created by the extra girth that makes itself felt. No more sharing elbow room with the front passenger on an upright perch; you’re seated lower, more comfortably and in the kind of roominess that would once have passed for C-segment. Adults fit in the rear, although it’s the boot which has grown into class-leading status, now measured at 330 litres with the seats up - just 50 litres shy of a Golf.
VW’s most famous hatchback comes to mind when you’re underway, too. The conventional chassis may still be comprised of front MacPherson struts and a rear torsion beam, but with its kerb weight given the tummy tuck treatment and what’s left obviously more rigid, the engineers have managed a thoroughly agreeable default tune, tautly grounded and yet quick to isolate the cabin above from intrusion.
With the track pushed out 30mm front and back, the Fabia feels better planted as well; and there’s no mistaking the handling advantage of both a lighter nose and a lower body.
The steering is electrical now, but keenly weighted and typically precise for a VW Group product. The change of direction is buoyant and grippy; not rife with feedback through the wheel or seat backs but appreciably well-balanced.
Its newfound dynamism is easily engaging enough to make the 74bhp petrol motor’s permanently winded delivery seem all the more disappointing. Skoda claims around 58mpg for the three-pot, but it’s hard to see how that’s ever possible with your foot forever welded to the bulkhead.