New Skoda Fabia spied in Volkswagen Polo disguise ahead of 2021 debut

Skoda is gearing up to unveil the fourth generation of its big-selling Fabia supermini, due in showrooms in the first half of 2021, and these are the first spy shots of the all-important small hatchback – we promise. 

It looks like a Volkswagen Polo, because this first Fabia is cloaked entirely in Polo bodywork. Our spy photographers are adamant it is not a Polo facelift, though – it’s too early for an updated Polo, the Czech plates are a giveaway, and it was spied as part of a convoy of other Skoda vehicles. 

VW Group sister brand SEAT employed a similar strategy with the current Ibiza a few years ago, when it was spied ahead of its reveal disguised as a Hyundai i20

Though the spy shots tell us nothing about the big redesign heading the Fabia’s way, they are indicative of the fast-track development schedule decreed by Skoda bosses, and confirm that the new car will move from its ageing platform to the Volkswagen Group’s latest standard.

The current Fabia was introduced at the end of 2014, so a replacement wouldn’t normally be due until late 2021. However, Skoda has speeded up development of the Mk4 model slightly to hasten a switch of platforms, allowing it to both give the car a more striking look, plus upgrade the powertrains and cabin technology.

While sister vehicles the SEAT Ibiza, Audi A1 and Volkswagen Polo are all now based upon the VW Group’s MQB A0 platform, the existing Fabia sits on a mix of MQB parts and the relatively old PQ26 architecture.

Skoda has been testing early prototypes of the car behind closed doors for a while. Speaking exclusively to Auto Express last year, the company’s former boss Bernhard Maier revealed that he had driven the vehicle.

When asked whether Skoda was going to speed up development of the next Fabia, Maier told us: “Yes, of course, we’re trying to push a bit more quickly. If you talk about the cars that are linked to my personal motivation, it’s the Karoq, it’s the Scala, it’s the Kamiq, it’s the Octavia, the now-refreshed Superb, by all means the MEB electric car [Enyaq iV] – and it will be the Fabia as well.” Then he added: “I just last week drove the first prototype of the Fabia, on MQB A0. I can tell you already that I can’t wait to bring that car to market.”

As shown by our previous images, the next Fabia will get a more distinctive look than the current model – which is seen as one of the more conservatively styled superminis. Expect a wider track, more pronounced blisters over the wheel arches, and more complex LED lights at the front and back, incorporating Skoda’s most recent crystal-inspired design language. The roofline will remain relatively tall at the rear, however; the Fabia is considered to be a small family car in several key markets, so it will still need to accommodate two adults in relative comfort in the back seats.

In fact, we should expect similar cabin space to the current car’s, because Skoda has recently introduced the Scala family hatchback and sees no reason to take the Fabia too close to that model on practicality. However, that will still be enough room for it to remain one of the more spacious cars in its class – and moving to MQB should bring gains in soundproofing and noise isolation, making the new Fabia’s cabin a more refined place on the move.

There will be a major hike in technology, too. Skoda’s MIB 3.0 infotainment system – as introduced with the Kamiq – will be present at the heart of the range. It’s likely that some versions of the car will make do with a 6.5-inch infotainment display, but UK models will probably be offered with a choice of eight-inch and 9.2-inch configurations.

Under the bonnet, the Fabia will probably drop the current car’s weakest MPI engine, in the UK at least, along with the 1.2-litre TSI. Instead, the core of the range will be powered by 1.0-litre TSI units with a choice of 94bhp or 114bhp. 

A 148bhp 1.5-litre TSI with cylinder deactivation is also likely to feature – and it’s equally conceivable that higher-end Fabias might get mild-hybrid tech from the VW Group as this filters down from family cars such as the VW Golf and new Octavia. Engineers across the different brands have been working on cheaper 12V systems that could be offered alongside the forthcoming 48V configurations. There are no plans for a plug-in version of the car, though, because the complexity, cost and compromises involved in packaging batteries into such a small model remain prohibitive.

Senior Skoda sources told us to expect the Fabia to make its public debut in early 2021, but the cancellation of the Geneva Motor Show next year could change Skoda’s timeline. Still, UK sales starting by next summer are expected. Prices should rise slightly, with a starting figure of around £12,500.

What do you make of Skoda’s new Fabia supermini? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below…

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