What is it?
'Surprising Skoda’ was for a long time the Czech manufacturer’s alliterative strapline, but in all honesty ‘sensible Skoda’ would have been more fitting. And that’s not meant as damning with faint praise because, over the decades, Skoda has carved an enviable and profitable niche delivering cars that appeal to the head over the heart, serving up greater space, more thoughtful touches and unrivalled value for money next to the competition.
It’s clearly a winning formula that the firm doesn’t intend to deviate from with this fourth-generation Fabia, which, with 4.5 million sales and counting, is Skoda’s second-most successful model after the Octavia.
We’ve already had a brief taster of the supermini (now Skoda’s smallest offering, after the lamentable demise of the Citigo) in Poland, and now it’s time to subject it to more challenging UK roads. But first a quick recap.
All new from the wheels up, the Fabia sits on the MQB A0 platform, which also underpins the latest Audi A1 Sportback, Seat Ibiza and Volkswagen Polo. Not only is it stiffer and stronger than its predecessor, but it has also let Skoda make its baby even bigger, at just over four metres long and nearly 1.8 metres wide. In fact, with these dimensions, it’s arguable whether it’s even a supermini any more – something that’s further highlighted by a boot capacity that, at 380 litres, is five litres up on that of the Ford Focus.
Still, the Fabia looks smart enough in a slightly upright and unfussy way. There’s a hint of Vauxhall Corsa in its side profile, but in all other respects it’s clearly a careful evolution.
Our left-hooker was nominally in SE L trim but had the aerodynamic 17in alloy wheels (the Fabia’s drag coefficient is an impressive 0.28) in place of the standard 16in rims.