New Skoda Fabia for 2015: first details

  • Design sketch shows next-gen Fiesta rival
  • New 1.0-litre petrol and 1.4-litre diesel engines
  • Public debut at Paris show; on sale in UK in January

This is the new Skoda Fabia, previewed through a design sketch ahead of a public launch at this autumn's Paris motor show and an arrival in UK showrooms early next year.

This third generation of the Ford Fiesta rival uses the VW Group's latest set of chassis components - the same basic set of parts that also underpins the latest VW Golf, Seat Leon, Skoda Octavia and Audi A3. The Fabia gets a shorter, simpler set-up than its larger stablemates but is able to use many of the technologies - everything from engines to infotainment systems.

Skoda has issued few details beyond the sketch, but the Czech manufacturer has confirmed that the car is 9cm wider than the model it replaces, and 3cm lower. This tallies with earlier statements promising a more focused, motorsport-influenced design; however, spy shots we've seen of the car testing point towards a neat, smart look instead of a genuinely dramatic one.

Beyond that, the sketch reveals that the Fabia has a sharp crease line along its flanks, and a distinctive kink in the rear side glass. There also appears to be a raised centre bonnet line running back from the badge.

Skoda hasn't confirmed specs on the Fabia, but What Car? understands that as part of the switch to the new chassis, it will be offered with a new range of engines.

The entry-level units are expected to be versions of the 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol motor that's also used in the Skoda Citigo. This will be offered in same two states of tune - 59bhp and 74bhp - and with a five-speed manual transmission.

The lesser of these motors looks weak for a car that's a rival to the Ford Fiesta, but insiders have previously suggested that the new chassis allows lighter construction that could bring the car's weight down to the 1000kg mark. When equipped with the tiny three-cylinder petrol engine, the entry-level edition could conceivably weigh less than that.

The Fabia should also be offered with 1.2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engines, badged TSI. Again, expect two states of tune - 89bhp and 109bhp - and the more powerful of those options to get either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. Again, the weight savings and improved aerodynamics should mean that even the least efficient of the petrols emits no more than 110g/km of CO2.

The diesel options will be based around the new 1.4-litre three-cylinder engine that's just been introduced to the face-lifted VW Polo. It will be offered with either 89bhp or 103bhp, and the more modest of those two options will also be available with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic; an auto diesel is said to have been a frequent request from Fabia customers.

There should also be a lesser-powered Greenline diesel, with CO2 emissions of not much more than 80g/km, but we'd expect all of the diesels, including the dual-clutch auto, to emit less than 95g/km.

Skoda hasn't said if the car is shorter or longer than the outgoing Fabia, but the presence of the Rapid Spaceback in the range is said to have allowed designers to keep the dimensions very similar. Front and rear overhangs should be shorter, though, freeing up some cabin space and allowing the Fabia to trump rivals such as the Ford Fiesta in one of Skoda's key areas: practicality. We'd expect a load space of around 330 litres, or 40 litres more than the Ford's boot capacity.

Skoda is expected to keep the same line-up of trim levels as now, with entry-level S the only edition not equipped with air-conditioning. The S is also likely to get a black-and-white LCD display on its basic infotainment set-up, with not much more than a radio.

All other editions, from SE and upwards, should get a choice of two colour touch-screens, equipped with Bluetooth connectivity and the option to use selected smartphone apps through the display. The Fabia will get a boost in safety kit, too, adding emergency braking that can stop the car if it senses an impending collision, plus a rear-view camera and hill-hold assist.

The top of the line-up will include Elegance and efficiency-focused Greenline editions, plus the motorsport-themed Monte Carlo, which will offer a body kit and more interior flourishes, as well as the choice of lowered suspension. It will not get extra power, however, and there are no plans for a vRS hot hatch version of the car; despite strong demand from the UK, Skoda has failed to build a Europe-wide business case for developing a high-performance derivative.

The Fabia is due on sale in January 2015, with the Estate version available a few months later. Prices are likely to stay broadly in line with the current generation's; that means a starting figure for the five-door hatchback of around £10,000.

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