Even without the dimensions to hand, the source of the Fabia’s altered visual presence is not hard to fathom. The previous car, with its unnaturally elevated, MPV-rivalling roofline, had the spindly, posture-fixing poise of a mobility scooter.

Clearly conscious of how this looked to anyone under the age of 50, Skoda has trimmed 31mm from the supermini’s height and also made it wider – much wider. The Fabia’s hips have spread to the tune of 90mm, making it a confident lane-filler rather than an apologetic one.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
The introduction of the new Skoda grille was inevitable. It leaves a frowning face, but not a nasty one

The wheelbase of the new chassis is 5mm longer, but reduced overhangs mean the car is 8mm shorter overall than the one it replaces, but in truth, the two cars share more underneath than Skoda would care to admit. The Mk3 Fabia’s platform is better thought of as a re-engineered version of the existing PQ26 architecture than a pure-blood variant of the MQB platform’s modularity.

However, any snobbery would be misguided, because as well as being stiffer and as much as 65kg lighter than before, the latest underpinnings get a new front subframe and engine bay that ensure compatibility with the most consequential part of the MQB packaging – namely, the more up-to-date petrol and diesel motors and transmissions.

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The three-cylinder petrol engine previously used only in the Citigo is now promoted to the Fabia’s ranks in both 59bhp and 74bhp forms, although its efficiency is not significantly better than the more expensive and now Euro 6-compliant four-cylinder 1.2 TSI – itself available with 108bhp.

The solitary diesel is a three-pot, too: the ultra-parsimonious new 1.4 TDI. Its 89bhp and 104bhp outputs are probably less important than the 88g/km and 90g/km CO2 emissions that emerge from their respective tailpipes. The most powerful versions of the TDI and TSI engines can now be had with VW’s seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, although five and six-speed manuals are the standard ratio-pickers.

All power the same conventional front-drive chassis, fashioned from front MacPherson struts and a rear torsion bar, and the whole thing is guided by electric steering rather than the hydraulic set-up of the previous model. There’s also the promise of all the dynamic advantages delivered by its significantly wider tracks.

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