Let’s start with probably the key nugget of information you’ll need to know about the third generation Fabia when it comes to the question of driving dynamics. Namely the fact that it’s 65kgs lighter than its predecessor. You might expect that to make a little bit of a difference to the way the car drives – and sure enough it does. If you’re familiar with the previous version, you’ll find that this car turns into corners that bit more sharply, enabling you to make the most of the extra grip delivered by the improved design’s wider track.
It’s better though, we think, to find the small extra premium necessary to graduate up to the derivative we reckon represents the sweet spot in the Fabia line-up, the 1. 2 TSI model with 90PS. Why? Well this version is just as clean and frugal as the 1. 0-litre spec option, yet it’s far more flexible in day-to-day use thanks to nearly double the amount of pulling power up-front – 160Nm of the stuff.
Diesel buyers get a choice of three versions of the Volkswagen Group’s familiar three cylinder 1. 4-litre TDI unit: there’s an eco-focused ‘Greenline’ model with 75PS, the 90PS variant and a 105PS option if you really need a bit more grunt. We think this 90PS model will be sufficient for the needs of most.
The bottom line is that though driving excitement may be in relatively short supply, there's real maturity in the way the car drives. If you're thinking of downsizing, you'll probably like it a lot.
The third generation Fabia apparently ‘users in a fresh era in Skoda design’. If so, then with future models, we’re going to be treated to styling that is all about sharp angles and bold edging. Where the old model was a little too high and narrow, this one looks far slicker and more modern.
As does the profile, a more powerful silhouette and sharp ‘Tornado’ lines giving the five-door-only bodystyle a much more dynamic feel than was offered by the previous generation model, helped by the fact that this time round, the car is 30mm wider and sits 90mm lower.
The stretched Polo floorplan is the reason why this car can offer so much more interior space than its direct supermini rivals, something that’s most obvious when it comes to boot capacity. With this issue, you find the main reason why buyers would choose a Fabia rather than Skoda’s smaller Citigo model, which comes with a boot nearly 50% smaller. Once you’ve negotiated a fairly high loading lip, there's a hefty 330-litres of luggage space, which is actually 14-litres more than you’d get from a Ford Focus in the next segment up.
Do rear seat passengers have to pay for all this cargo capacity? Not really. This was always one of the very few superminis in which three fully-sized adults could just about sit alongside each other – at least for short journeys. It still is.
There’s plenty of space up-front too, especially for elbows and shoulders, and it’s easy to find an ideal driving position thanks to reach and rake adjustability for the steering wheel and a height-adjustable seat. Around the décor panel sits the other main interior change – the addition of this neat infotainment colour touchscreen, delivered in either 5 or 6. 5-inch sizes, depending on the trim level you decide upon.
Like most modern designs, this third generation Fabia is lighter than its predecessor, offering a significant reduction in kerb weight of up to 65kgs this time around.
As a result of all this plus a series of other clever tweaks, the most efficient eco-minded ‘Greenline’ model is able to use its 75PS three cylinder 1. 4-litre TDI diesel to deliver the kind of running cost returns that might encourage a double-take - 82g/km of CO2 and 88. 3mpg on the combined cycle. That’s pretty much as low as it gets for a car without any form of hybrid system.
So. How to sum up? Well, think about the reasons people buy small cars: ease of use, low running costs, practicality. This one seems to very effectively tick a lot of those boxes – but then the Fabia always has. In its first two generations of life though, this supermini lacked something of a spark – that ‘want one’ factor, which meant that when it came to developing this MK3 model, Skoda knew they had to somehow build that into the design DNA.
You still won’t be buying this car to make a fashion statement or to impress the neighbours - and you certainly won’t buy it to corner on your door handles. Fabia drivers tend to be beyond all that sort of thing. Instead, in this Skoda, they’ll recognise a sensible, state-of-the-art supermini in every way fit for purpose in an increasingly demanding modern world.
True, the end result may not be the car you always dreamed of owning. It could though, very well be the one you actually need.