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THE NEW FABIA

THE NEW ŠKODA FABIA IS A MODERN TAKE ON TRADITION

The new ŠKODA FABIA will be presented to the world in May. As the most recently published sketch of its exterior shows, the popular compact car’s overall looks are much more emotive, featuring ŠKODA’s typical crystalline design. The MQB-A0 platform the new FABIA is based on allows it to be 48 millimetres wider and 110 millimetres longer. Even so, the fourth-generation model clearly remains a compact car in appearance.

The FABIA’s expressive looks are enhanced by the traditional ŠKODA crystalline design. The key features are the combination of pronounced edges and generous volumes and the distinct contrast between the body’s sharp lines and convex surfaces. On the side of the door there is a line inspired by the Czech flag and its distinctive triangular section. The chiselled front headlights with LED technology are now complemented by two-part rear lights. The window silhouette is elegantly highlighted by a chrome outline; and the wide rear diffusor enhances the car’s sporty and dynamic appearance. On the new FABIA, customers will again be able to choose a combination of roof colours.

The intergenerational design shift looks set to be just as marked as the change between the first and second FABIA generations, for example.

Unique roof of the second generation

“I see the second generation FABIA as a kind of stepping stone in terms of the design language of the time. Compared to present-day ŠKODA cars, earlier models were much more rounded and softer, and not as crystalline and sculpted. But the second generation had sharper lines while retaining the more rounded surface architecture,” says Jiří Hadaščok, currently exterior design coordinator at ŠKODA. Hadaščok was working as a modeller when the second-generation FABIA was under preparation and later became the author of this generation’s facelift.

He also remembers how this design shift came about. When ŠKODA presented the concept of the ROOMSTER family model, its design met with an enthusiastic reception. Even though it wasn’t originally planned, the Czech carmaker decided that in design terms the second-generation FABIA would be similar to the ROOMSTER that was being developed. What’s more, this decision was in line with the original idea to accent ŠKODA’s important values in the second-generation FABIA: primarily the car’s practicality, with the emphasis on space for the car’s occupants and their luggage.

This requirement and the influence of the ROOMSTER model meant that the second-generation FABIA got a higher body, which resulted in a roomier interior and an airier sensation inside the car. Of course, the designers and constructors had to contend with the limitations of the platform used at that time, which prevented widening the axle track. For that reason, the designers came up with the idea of a new roof concept. Distinct body pillars created a greater optical separation between the roof and the rest of the car, so the roof could have a contrasting colour scheme. “That gave the FABIA a more modern, up-to-date look,” says Hadaščok.

That feature was then put to use by the designers of the sporty MONTE CARLO version. This version made its debut with the second-generation FABIA. “We could make the roof black, as well as the A and B pillars, and this design made the car feel lower,” says Daniel Petr, the author of this version’s design. He adds that the car had other details finished in black, and another distinctive feature in the form of black bumper edges. “That’s a speciality of the MONTE CARLO version of the second-generation FABIA – we didn’t use this design in other ŠKODA cars,” Daniel Petr explains. Incidentally, the fourth-generation FABIAs will also offer an innovative roof design.

According to Hadaščok, the upshot of all these design innovations was a very timeless car. “We managed to give the FABIA certain stylistic features that are still modern and interesting today," says Peter Wouda, the author of the design. He also praises the purity and simplicity of the car’s shape. “A second-generation FABIA in black or dark blue with a silver or white roof still turns my head today,” says Hadaščok, letting us know what his favourite combinations were.

Subtle facelift

The FABIA S2000 rally car that was based on the second-generation FABIA also still turns heads. Its design was again the work of Daniel Petr. “The biggest challenge with the rally car was that we had to keep all the doors functional. We couldn’t have a three-door version because no three-door FABIAs had been made,” Daniel Petr points out. The car followed up the successful first-generation FABIA WRC and lifted the ŠKODA Motorsport team to the summit of its category of international rally racing.

Needless to say, an combi version was part of the mass-produced series. And the SCOUT, with its more adventurous body design, was an interesting innovation. The SCOUT came onto the market in 2009, two years after the second-generation model was launched. The following year brought a facelift that introduced mostly subtle but very important changes. “One of the first things I focused on were the lights,” says Jiří Hadaščok, whose design was chosen for mass production. It was mainly progress in headlight technology that made the change possible.

Hadaščok’s design was actually a stroke of luck. “At the time I was working on half a plasticine model with modeller Richard Whitmore. We didn’t have enough time to prepare the other half symmetrically – in those days we didn’t have the possibilities of scanning and cutting symmetric models that we have today. So Richard asked me if we shouldn’t “sketch out” something into the plasticine itself. He said it would be quicker,” Hadaščok recounts.

Thanks to this approach, the designers met the deadline for presenting their model, with each half (left and right) having a slightly different design. “The bumpers were different, for example, especially at the bottom, as well as the radiator grille and a couple of other details,” Hadaščok says. To his surprise, and the surprise of the entire management team, it was the side sketched out “in a hurry” that was chosen for mass production. “It was much more appealing,” smiles Hadaščok.

THE NEW FABIA REVEALS ITS INTERIOR. IT’S BEEN TRANSFORMED

The fourth-generation FABIA, which will be unveiled in May, has an interior with a greater sense of airiness than its predecessor, with fresh colours and clever new features, not to mention the kind of technologies and trim usually reserved for top-segment cars. One factor that enabled this evolution was the first use of the MQB-A0 platform in this model.

In this regard the FABIA is following in the footsteps of the latest generation of the ŠKODA OCTAVIA, which ushered in an interior design transformation in ŠKODA cars. The new FABIA also places great importance on details: the first sketch, for example, reveals a new design for circular air vents on either side of the dashboard, which is a first in ŠKODA’s modern history. Colour accents that unify the various parts of the interior are another important detail.

Another key element is obviously the large touchscreen display, which is situated high on the dashboard, emphasising the new ŠKODA lines first seen in the OCTAVIA. The line beneath the display copies the line of the bonnet ridge, which unifies the car’s interior and exterior as well as having a practical benefit: the lower part of the line serves as a rest for the user’s hand, making the touchscreen display easier to operate. The sketch also reveals that the fourth-generation FABIA will offer the Virtual Cockpit digital instrument panel option, which has previously only been available in the brand’s larger models.

A characteristic feature

One of the design features the third-generation FABIA was endowed with was the “wing line” beneath the “tornado line” – the sharp side ridge that is so characteristic of ŠKODA cars today. “This is a feature that helps optically lower the car’s height, creating the impression that the car is more squat. The tornado line has been retained in the model’s latest generation as well, of course. This design feature is used in various forms on newer models as well.

One feature of the third-generation FABIA was also a continuation of the second generation: this was the option of enhancing the car’s looks with a contrasting paint job for the A pillar and roof. After its world premiere, the car was unveiled in the Czech carmaker’s home country with this design. When ŠKODA presented its new FABIA at the Designblok event, the campaign’s slogan was “Tested on Real People”. The silver FABIA with red wheels and a red roof and A pillars was one of the most head-turning exhibits at the Czech design festival.

At that time the FABIA start to push a more youthful image. Ferdinand Piëch, chairman of the supervisory board of Volkswagen AG, said at the time that the FABIA COMBI was the best-looking car of the entire Volkswagen Group. The sports versions of the FABIA enhanced the car’s youthful image. The FABIA MONTE CARLO models were designed for road use, while the FABIA R5, followed up by the Rally 2 evo, are still winning rally events to this day. “The third-generation FABIA’s design was kind of more muscular, which was most evident in the R5 racing version,” says Matušinec. And he adds: “But if you take a close look at the FABIA R5, you see that the modifications that are important for the sporting version are actually a natural evolution of the mass-produced version’s features.”

Petr Matušinec won’t hear a bad word about the third-generation FABIA. That’s partly because the car’s development was a very emotional process for him. “I call it my second child, because my first son was born when it was being developed. So I had no shortage of intense experiences both at home and at work,” says Matušinec, for whom the third-generation FABIA was the first complete mass-produced car he helped design.

That does not stop him from casting a critical eye over “his” work, though. “Of course, there are a few details I would change from today’s perspective. Most impartial observers wouldn’t even notice what I’m talking about, but at the time I wanted to make the A pillar around 3 millimetres more convex, but there was no time because the project was already at too advanced a stage,” he says.

Even so, he still thinks it’s a timeless car. He likes the blue paint job best, the one ŠKODA chose for presenting the car. “All the shades look good when combined with a black roof and nice wheel rims. And even today when I see the MONTE CARLO version, it makes me truly happy to see that the FABIA still looks very good. Including the COMBI version,” Matušinec concludes. Incidentally, an combi version is planned for the fourth-generation FABIA as well, but it won’t go into production for some time yet.

THE NEW FABIA: WHAT’S HIDING BENEATH THE CAMOUFLAGE

The new ŠKODA FABIA has been presented to the first drivers. Although its appearance is still disguised, something about it has already been revealed. Find out what if offers and how its camouflage was created.

Modern and spacious

While the new model’s design remains secret, some information is already out there. The fourth-generation FABIA uses the MQB-A0 platform, which has allowed the new car to grow in size. The FABIA is 4,108 mm long (111 mm bigger), 1,780 mm wide (+ 48 mm), and its wheelbase has grown by 94 mm to 2,564 mm. This increase in dimensions provides a lot more room for both the car’s occupants and their luggage. The boot has grown to a volume of 380 litres. But despite the marked increase in dimensions, the constructors managed to keep the new generation FABIA’s weight almost unchanged.

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