Having only driven it on snow-strewn Austrian roads at below 0deg C, we can’t tell with certainty how the new Fabia might deal with British B-roads.
However, there is greater precision to the steering, which is light but very direct. It feels more agile than its direct predecessor and there are clear lines of communication and very progressive body movements. With an appreciably longer wheelbase and wider tracks giving it a larger footprint than model it replaces, it corners with greater enthusiasm, too.
The biggest improvement in on-road character, though, is reserved for the ride. There is added suppleness and greater absorption to the MacPherson strut (front) and torsion beam (rear) suspension, which while shared with other MQB A0 models – Polo and Ibiza included – has been tuned specifically by Skoda to give the new model its own unique on-road feel. With greater rigidity to its structure, it fidgets less over high-frequency bumps at lower speeds around town and is generally better controlled out on the open road.
Although hidden under the camouflage of this prototype, the interior is set to be a key highlight of the new Fabia. It draws heavily on the digital and connectivity functions as well as the design and material quality found in other recent new Skodas, albeit with quite a few unique touches.
The key attraction is the 10.2in digital instrument panel. It is accompanied by either a standard 6.8in or optional 9.2in touchscreen infotainment display mounted high on the dashboard. The new entry-level Skoda also now includes up to nine airbags.
The driving position is well resolved, with generous adjustment for the seat and steering wheel. Rear-seat accommodation and boot space are typical Skoda strengths, so it comes as no surprise to discover that both have been improved. The boot is particularly impressive, gaining an extra 50 litres over the old Fabia’s for what Skoda describes as a class-leading 380 litres.