The new fourth-generation Skoda Fabia is said to be the most spacious car in the supermini segment, thanks to significant increases in dimensions across the board compared with its predecessor.
The new Fabia makes the landmark shift onto the Volkswagen Group's MQB-A0 supermini platform, as used by the Audi A1 Sportback, Seat Ibiza and Volkswagen Polo, ditching the PQ architecture used in various iterations since the Mk1 Fabia arrived in 1999.
These much more modern underpinnings accommodate "improved comfort features and numerous advanced safety and [driver] assistance systems," as well as a range of more efficient powertrains.
The hatchback is due to be launched in the UK early next year, priced from around £13,500, plus Skoda has confirmed that the unique estate version will return as well, most likely in 2023.
The Fabia is 111mm longer than before, at 4108mm, and 48mm wider, at 1780mm. Its wheelbase has been extended from 2470mm to 2564mm to improve the space inside, especially in the rear, while the boot, up by 50 litres to 380 litres, is said to be the largest of any supermini on sale today.
Slim headlights (LED as standard), new foglights and and a reshaped bumper are the most obvious changes at the front, while the new-look rear also mirrors the latest Skodas, with the brand's name spelled out across the bootlid, optional LED brake lights and a more prominent spoiler.
Head designer Oliver Stefani hailed the new Fabia as "much more dynamic and grown-up" than the Mk3 and said: "We've deliberately not changed the essence of the Fabia: as is typical of a Skoda, it's a functional and practical everyday companion."
A highlight of the redesign is the improved aerodynamic efficiency afforded to the supermini. Its drag coefficient of 0.28Cd is down from 0.32Cd before and said to be "a record in the small car segment".
Skoda highlights aero-enhancing active cooling shutters at the front that, when closed, can apparently save "up to 0.2 litres" of fuel per 62 miles at a constant speed of 75mph, equating to 5g of CO2 per kilometre.
The new spoiler, reshaped door mirrors and 'side finlets' contribute to the improved efficiency, too, by minimising turbulence around the rear end. There are even newly designed plastic trims for the wheels and added underbody panels for improved airflow. What's more, the new Fabia is said to be stabler than the outgoing one, with a "robust body structure" and a "high degree of torsional stiffness".
The Fabia's reinvention is most apparent inside, where it has been given "comfort features as found in higher-tier vehicles" and a complete redesign as part of a move to link it more closely with its larger sibling, the Octavia.
Its three familiar trim levels (S, SE and SE L) offer different designs for the dashboard trim strips, while higher-end versions get a fabric-covered dashboard with colourcontrasting stitching. All models get Skoda's distinctive new circular air vents and new multifunction steering wheel, plus ambient LED lighting and dual-zone climate control are available as options for the first time.
Chief among the upgrades, though, is the new dash-top infotainment touchscreen. Internet radio, real-time traffic updates and a wi-fi hotspot for passengers' devices are now possible, courtesy of an integrated SIM card, while other firsts for the Fabia include wireless smartphone connectivity, gesture control and the introduction of Skoda's voice-control assistant, Laura.
Skoda is offering three infotainment systems in the new Fabia: Swing, with a 6.2in touchscreen, a DAB radio and four front speakers; Bolero, which gains an 8.2in screen, Bluetooth and surround sound audio; and Amundsen, which brings a 9.0in screen and the bulk of the new features, including connected services such as Skoda's eCall emergency response system and remote vehicle access.
A 10.25in digital instrument display is also available as an option, along with "other options making their Fabia debut," including a heated windscreen and a heated steering wheel.
The new Fabia has a more comprehensive range of engines than its predecessor, all of them petrol-fuelled and compliant with the current Euro 6d emissions standards.
Evolutions of the naturally aspirated three-cylinder 1.0 MPI unit opens the lineup with 64bhp and 79bhp. They're paired exclusively with a five-speed manual gearbox for a 0-62mph time of between 15.1sec and 15.5sec, a combined consumption rating of 55.4mpg and CO2 emissions of 116-131g/km.
Next up is the 1.0 TSI Evo turbo triple, which can be had with a five or six-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed dual-clutch (DSG) automatic. In its most potent guise, with 108bhp, it can send the Fabia from 0-62mph in 9.5sec yet closely match the 1.0 MPI for efficiency.
At the top of the line-up is a 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 148bhp and cuts the 0-62mph sprint time to 7.9sec, while managing 50.4mpg and emitting 128-142g/km.
No sporty vRS variant is on the cards, so this will likely remain the most powerful version of the Fabia. It will also almost certainly provide the basis for the performance-inspired Monte Carlo edition that's due to arrive later.