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Skoda has upped the ante with this improved version of its third-generation Fabia, introducing sharper, more assertive styling and clever tech that has been bringing down the average age of its customers. With plenty of space inside and improved levels of safety and media connectivity, the Fabia seems to be getting the basics spot on these days and further benefits from the introduction of an impressive 1.0-litre TSI entry-level powerplant.
Because this is merely an update of an existing design, this revised MK3 Fabia doesn't get the Volkswagen Group's latest MQB A0 platform, as used by its cousins, latest versions of the Volkswagen Polo and the SEAT Ibiza. Its older MQB chassis is still quite sophisticated though and to it can be bolted the same engines as you'd find in the two rival models just mentioned. All of these units are now three cylinder petrol-powered engines, Skoda deciding that the market for diesels amongst supermini buyers is now defunct. There's a base 75PS 1.0-litre MPI normally aspirated powerplant, but the engine to have, if you can stretch to it, is the 1.0-litre TSI turbo, available with 95 or 110PS. The perkier unit can be matched with 7-speed DSG auto transmission. Even the base TSI variant gets to 62mph in 10.6s en route to 115mph. The pokier version improves these figures to 9.5s and 122mph. On the move, Skoda has worked hard to endow the Fabia with a supple ride, decent body control and low-effort steering. Once you've made the right engine choice, you'll get yourself undemanding transport that on occasion can offer up a few driving rewards. Despite the addition of an XDS+ electronic differential system that aids corner turn-in, these benefits won't really manifest themselves if you're the kind of person who likes to drive on your doorhandles. But then if that's your preference, you probably wouldn't be looking at a Fabia in the first place.
The Fabia's changed - but certainly not beyond recognition. Front and rear design updates deliver a smarter appearance and there are more stylish wheel designs of up to 18-inches in size. Shaplier headlights and front fog lights with sleeker outlines and state-of-the-art lighting technology also freshen up the look, LED headlights and LED rear lights being offered for the first time. Inside, there's a redesigned instrument cluster, smarter trim strips for the dashboard and two-tone finishes for the seats to update the interior. As before, there's a five-door Hatch bodystyle, or an Estate with a class-leading 530-litre boot capacity. With the Hatch variant, the boot is also the largest within the car's segment at 330-litres and the loading area is 960mm wide. With the rear seats folded down in Hatch models, loading capacity increases up to 1,150-litres. To help make good use of the room on offer, there's are various load-securing nets offered as part of the optional 'Simply Clever' practicality package. Plus there's a two-position luggage compartment shelf that'll keep fragile items off the boot floor. And folding hooks to stop your shopping from spilling out of its bag on your way back from the supermarket. All passengers get impressive levels of headroom by supermini standards. Do rear seat folk have to pay for all that cargo capacity we mentioned? 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. Try doing that in a Fiesta.
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