Skoda will finally bring its ever-popular Fabia supermini back into line with its Volkswagen Group siblings with an all-new version next year, and an early sighting of a prototype has given us our first look at its new look
Images captured by Czech site portál ridiče show a development mule undergoing testing on public roads, which - despite heavy camouflage - can be seen to take styling cues from newer Skoda models including the Octavia and Scala. The rear end, especially, looks to have been brought into line with the Czech maker's other models with a thicker bumper and a flat panel between the reshaped brake lights, which will likely bear the model's name.
Images of the side and front of the car are less clear, so it is difficult to make out much of the car's overall design, but we're expecting a greater leap than the Fabia made between its second and third generations.
Plans to bring the fourth-generation Fabia to market in 2022 have been revised to reduce the complexity of having older and newer platforms produced at the same time within the group. As such, it will be revealed in the first half of next year, with first examples expected to arrive in UK showrooms well before the end of 2021.
The current architecture of the Fabia, a re-engineered version of a platform first used back in 2008, will be junked in favour of purely MQB A0 underpinnings. That's the same platform used by the Audi A1 Sportback, Seat Ibiza and Volkswagen Polo – as evidenced by the Polo-based Fabia development mules that were spotted recently.
Crucially, this platform will ensure the Czech supermini is no longer the poor relation of the family. The interior is likely to receive the biggest overhaul, however, given that the current Fabia's dashboard design and technology are now off the pace compared with the Volkswagen Group standard. As such, a revised layout, much larger and clearer displays and Skoda's latest infotainment system and connectivity features will be introduced.
Despite wider group plans, the Fabia won't offer any form of electrification initially – not even mild-hybrid engines. Insiders tell us this will keep the Fabia affordable at its core, appealing to drivers who are put off by the influx of superminis moving up to and even beyond £25,000.
As electrified powertrain technology becomes more attainable in future, however, it could be brought across from other group models.
As such, the new Fabia's engines will be familiar, albeit now without any diesels. The turbocharged three-cylinder petrol TSI will sit at the heart of the range in varying power outputs, while more powerful four-cylinder engines (and a cheaper naturally aspirated three-pot) could also be used.
We won't see the return of the vRS badge, but sources say the popularity of today's top-tier Monte Carlo model will mean a greater emphasis on sportiness (visually or otherwise) higher up the range.
The switch to the MQB platform should also yield noticeable forward strides in the fields of refinement and comfort. The current Fabia remains one of the more spacious in its class, so actual size may not change, however.
We expect prices for the Fabia to increase beyond the £12,990 base price of today's model but not significantly so.