Skoda’s Fabia appeared first on the market in 1999. Now it’s into its third generation. What have they done? What have they done?
This is the new Skoda Fabia. The previous two generations have been rather good interpretations of a difficult genre, the conservative but attractive small car. The first version displayed some nice automotive design tropes: the smooth flowing bonnet to a-pillar and neatly shaped vestigial boot. The rear graphics and sculpture worked very harmoniously, very much the work of designers who were unafraid to make their car look unlike a VW-group product yet adhere to their rigorous standards of detail design.
The lamps had simple but characterful outlines and the car did without the deep sculpting that is either a) robbing interior room or b) making small cars wider. I think it still looks fresh in a Mercedes W-126 kind of way.
The 2007 version (below) added subtle surface richness and the grille lent the vehicle an aristocratic demeanour entirely unusual in this class which lately has been dominated by various interpretations of fun and funky. If you like your small cars stately, the 2007 Fabia could provide just that. Again, the headlamp design stood out as being distinct but not contrived (Peugeot are particularly prone to this). The black a-pillars worked well,
even if others had tried this schtick before. The Fabia offered a little car you could take seriously, less of a car for Gabriella from Milan (Fiesta) or Johanne from Dortmund (Polo) than one for Dr. Stephan Dallmayr (retired) or Henry and Helen Chobham (retired).
The new car suggests its Polo roots much more strongly than the previous cars but a side to side comparison shows the VW is more rounded while the Skoda has shades of Lamborghini angularity. Alas, the Polo and new Fabia have very similar sideglass graphics, with upkicks at the front and back ends. What it isn’t is sober or grown-up and it has lost the sensible but elegant feel of the previous cars.
Automotive News describes the car as being lower, wider and sportier than the previous model; isn’t this true of every new car? Skoda’s pretty little Fabia has done very well by not being a Polo or Fiesta or Ibiza. Presumably the product planners at VAG know what they are doing, though in this case it looks like they don’t.
Technical data is scant but we can expect some three cylinder engines and an overworked 1.4 to be part of the line-up.