The all-new Skoda Fabia is still more than 12 months away, but it’s already hit the road – disguised as a current VW Polo. And we’ve used insider information to produce exclusive images of how the showroom supermini could look.
Update: The head of development for Skoda, Dr Frank Welsch, has confirmed that the Skoda Fabia vRS is to be axed. The sister car to the SEAT Ibiza Cupra and Volkswagen Polo will not be replaced when the new Fabia arrives in 2014.
Welsch explains the reason behind the decision: "The truth is people love the vRS, but they don’t buy it – compared to the price of a normal Fabia it’s too much." Optional extras such as alloy wheels and styling packs like the Monte Carlo are very popular, Welsch continues, suggesting that this is the direction Skoda will be focusing on in the future.
However, Welsch didn't rule out the possibility of a Fabia vRS completely: "Of course if there is very strong demand in some markets we will be quick to make it happen, as engineers we love to build cars like this."
Skoda’s latest design language – established by the Vision D at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show – is minimalist and conservative, as seen on the new Octavia and Rapid. However Chief Designer Jozef Kaban told Auto Express on a recent event that the new Fabia will be the most extrovert model yet, with a wide front grille, angular headlights and LED tail-lamps.
However, it’s set to retain a version of the current model’s chunky, upswept C-pillar, and Skoda is likely to offer contrasting colours for the roof, wheels and door mirror caps following the huge popularity of its Monte Carlo special editions.
Kaban also suggested that the whole brand was excited to make a car that could be a recognisable part of the range but also more expressive than sensible family cars like the Rapid Spaceback and Octvia.
The existing Fabia sits on VW’s PQ24 platform – the generation before the PQ25 used by today’s Polo, plus the SEAT Ibiza and Audi A1. But the Fabia – due in 2014 – will lead a shift for the entire VW Group small car family to a shorter version of the new Golf’s MQB underpinnings.
The test mule seems to have a slightly longer wheelbase than the Polo’s, which will help improve rear legroom and stability in the new Skoda. The sticker on the bootlid means ‘brake test’ in German, but the wheel-speed sensors attached to the hubs give the game away – they carry tiny Skoda stickers on each wheel.
However although it was popular in the UK, Skoda struggled to sell many vRS Fabias in the rest of Europe so the sporty flagship is likely to be dropped for the new generation. Instead a new range of petrol and diesel engines is being developed - all of which should meet the stringent Euro 6 emissions regulations which come into force in 2015.
The test car is packed with weights, which is why it sits lower than usual, to give the drivetrain and brakes a real workout. The current Fabia, launched in 2007, was the first of the latest generation of VW Group superminis to go on sale, so it makes sense that it would be the first to be replaced.
When the new version lands in showrooms, it’ll probably cost slightly more than the current Fabia, which starts at £9,945.