The new Fabia will form a key part of Škoda UK’s long-term ambition to reach 100,000 annual sales after the Czech-built supermini reaches showrooms in January 2015.
It will have a tough fight on its hands, given that Vauxhall has just launched its new Corsa in the segment and demand for the Ford Fiesta, the UK’s best-selling car currently, shows little sign of abating. The next-generation Mazda2 is also arriving in early 2015.
But Škoda UK director Alasdair Stewart is bullish about his 15,000 sales target for Fabia hatchback in 2015, with another 7,000 registrations expected for an estate version.
That will be an increase of more than 50% over the number of Fabias sold this year during their run-out.
Retail buyers are expected to account for 70% of new Fabia hatchback orders, but Stewart said the car’s appeal could improve in the fleet sector due to its better fuel economy and lower emissions.
In mid-2015 Škoda will add a Fabia Greenline variant with CO2 emissions of 82g/km that will appeal to cost-conscious fleet managers.
Stewart said he will back the new supermini’s launch with a £5 million marketing spend in 2015, which is likely to include digital promotions and a TV spot, plus some support for Škoda dealers’ own efforts.
While the loyal customer base will be a source of buyers, Škoda will be looking to attract buyers from other brands, and slightly younger ones too. The Czech brand hopes success with the new Fabia will bring down the average buyer age from the current 53 years.
“We hope that Fabia generation three will hit younger customers,” said Stewart. “However this type of car generally appeals to both ends of the spectrum,”
The £10,600 entry point doesn’t seem that cheap, but
a draw for those new customers, according to Stewart, will be “very compelling” PCP finance with strong guaranteed future values underwritten by Volkswagen Financial Services.
Yet more crucially, he said, will be the connective technology on Fabia – named MirrorLink – and its improved design and personalised colour palette. Buyers can opt for contrasting roof and door mirrors and dashboard inserts if they wish.
The MirrorLink system is standard with the infotainment on all except the base Fabia S and allows owners to run approved apps from their latest smartphone on to the in-car display via a USB cable. One example used on the media launch was a sat-nav app, Sygic, which is downloaded free of charge. Optional sat-nav was ordered by just 1% of previous Fabia buyers, so Skoda sees MirrorLink as enabling buyers who need such systems to access them at no or little cost. Other apps already available include personal radio, weather updates, audio books and information on parking spaces.
Traditional Fabia customers may miss their CD player, however. The new car’s infotainment system does not have one and, other than its DAB radio, requires audio feeds from a smartphone or MP3 player.
Another useful function is SmartGate, which permits the transfer via wi-fi of certain vehicle data to specific applications on a smartphone for storage and mobile use.
Škoda’s Drive App, for instance, can show a driver how efficient their driving style has been for any trip and also displays fuel consumption, average speed and journey costs. Users can also review their journey on a map, as well as posting them to Facebook. A G Meter app can show acceleration and braking forces and speed – potentially useful for parents who lend out their car to their licence-holding teenage offspring.
Until the Fabia Greenline variant is launched, the Fabia range will comprise a 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol in 60hp and 75hp forms, a 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol in 90hp and 110hp forms and a 1.4-litre turbodiesel with 75hp, 90hp or 105hp. All have start-stop as standard.
The 1.0-litre 75hp model is expected to be the best-
seller due to its price point and efficiency, followed by the 1.2-litre 90hp.
The entry S trim gets DAB radio, Bluetooth and electric heated mirrors but doesn’t come with air-con or alloys.
These are standard on the SE trim, which also has a leather steering wheel, an alarm and better audio with Mirrorlink for a £1,300 premium.
An additional £850 gets the customer an SEL with cruise control, keyless start, bigger alloys and steering wheel controls for the stereo.
Options, depending on the model, include front and rear parking sensors, auto lights and wipers, a panoramic sunroof, keyless entry and start, plus safety systems such as city emergency braking and hill hold assist.