Skoda’s revised supermini is aimed at the youngsters

Microsoft Word - FEATURE, main motoring  - oct 31  2014SKODA’S new Fabia supermini, which replaces the current seven-year-old model, has been revealed at the Paris motor show.

And it is obvious the company are hoping to attract younger buyers with a range of personalisation and tech features in their new model, which will cost from £10,600 when it arrives in the UK early next year.

The Fabia, Skoda’s best-selling model behind the Octavia, should give the Czech car-maker a significant boost in Europe’s vital supermini market, especially as sales of the current model slipped to under 200,000 sales last year.

The new Fabia is still under four metres long but is 30mm lower in height and, significantly, 90mm wider than the outgoing model.

This will improve cabin space, and should also give the car a more planted and contemporary look. A 330-litre boot is offered, which is some 15 litres larger than that of the outgoing model.

And Jozef Kaban, Skoda’s chief designer, says the new model signifies a decisive shift in the brand’s design language.

“In recent years, Skoda have made a name for themselves by producing cars with great functionality and above-average interior space,” he said.

“But we sense that now is the right time to create a stronger connection between the functionality of our cars and an expressive design.”

Kaban added that Skoda had focused on creating a sportier vehicle and making the design crisper. “The result,” he said, “is a young, fresh and modern compact car that sets new standards in its segment.”

It is understood that the Fabia is based on the latest version of the Volkswagen Group’s PQ26 platform, first used on this year’s revamped VW Polo supermini.

The newly re-engineered platform has been modified to accept the VW Group’s latest range of engines and transmissions, as well as the most up-to-date safety and infotainment kit. Improvements in structural rigidity should also ensure improved handling and safety.

There will be a brace of EU6-compliant engines, starting with the 1.0-litre three-cylinder unit used in the VW Up and the Skoda Citigo. Above that is a series of 1.2 turbo-charged four-cylinders thought to develop between 89bhp and 109bhp, depending on the state of tune.

The top new Fabia model is expected to be the Greenline diesel. By using a 74bhp 1.4 turbo-diesel, it is expected to claim 82g/km on CO2 emissions with fuel economy of 91mpg.

But even the entry-level 1.0-litre model should provide impressive efficiency, thanks to a dry weight of around 980kg.

Skoda have revealed UK pricing and specification information for the hatchback variant of the Fabia. Three trim levels will be offered: S, SE and Elegance, and six engine choices.

The 18-variant range will start at £10,600 for a 59bhp Fabia S 1.0 MPI and rise to £17,240 for a 89bhp Fabia Elegance 1.4 TDI, equipped with a DSG twin-clutch transmission.

The DSG option, offered on variants with four-cylinder engines, will command a premium of about £1,000 over the equivalent manual gearbox car.

Entry-level S models include DAB digital radio, Bluetooth, stop-start and electric front windows as standard, as well as electrically-adjustable and heated door mirrors.

The SE trim adds goodies including a three-spoke leather steering wheel, a leather gearshift knob and handbrake lever manual aircon, 15in alloy wheels and an uprated infotainment system that includes telephone control, Mirrorlink, a USB port and SD card slot.

Elegance builds on SE with a multi-function leather steering wheel, 16in alloys, automatically dimming rear-view mirror, climate control, cruise control, front fog lights, keyless entry and start and LED running lights.

The new model will also be the first to be offered with a range of personalisation options as the manufacturer seek to broaden the car’s appeal to younger customers.

Buyers will be able to select the colour of their wheel rims, door-mirror surrounds and roof, as well as interior elements such as the dashboard and steering wheel trim. In total, 15 body colours and three interior trim styles will be offered.

“Customisation is the next quite important feature for us as we continue the evolution of our cars,” said Dalibor Pantucek, Skoda’s exterior designer.

Improved technology will also form a centrepiece of the new Skoda’s appeal to younger customers. It is the first car in Skoda’s range to feature Mirrorlink, a system that allows smartphone apps to be displayed on the infotainment screen.

Another new function is Smartgate, where vehicle-specific information such as fuel consumption, average speed and g-force readings can be transferred and recorded on a smartphone.

However, the Fabia’s bold new look hasn’t come at the cost of practicality. An ice-scraper in the fuel filler cap, storage nets on the inside edges of the front seats, a smartphone cradle in the centre console and a rubbish bin in the side door are some of the more practical features.

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