Small has indeed become beautiful. Not only are carmakers innovating to launch small cars in India, the focus is now strongly on low fuel consumption that reduces the cost of ownership of a car.
After the launch of the two-cylinder engine Nano from the Tata Motors stable (See: Tata motors launches the Rs 1-lakh car, Nano), Skoda Auto is launching its three-cylinder hatchback Fabia that was prominently showcased at the Ninth Auto Expo held in Delhi recently. Skoda Fabia, which will also be seen at the Geneva Motor show in March, has a small engine configuration. It is powered by a 3-cylinder petrol and 3-cylinder diesel engine. The only other car that has a 3-cylinder diesel engine is the Accent CRDi.
The petrol Fabia will take on the Zen Estilo, Swift, Chevrolet U-VA, Hyundai Getz and the diesel Fabia will compete with the diesel range of hatchbacks like the Swift, Getz and Tata Indica. Experts say the Fabia's 3-cylinder engine will make the car capable of delivering a fuel economy of 14-15km per litre.
Based on the Volkswagen platform, Skoda is branding the Fabia as a 'super hatch' and is placing it at a premium over other B segment hatchbacks in the market. The Fabia has been initially launched with an (85 bhp) 1.4 petrol litre and a (69 bhp) 1.4 diesel engine. The 1.2 litre petrol engine version is expected to come in later part of 2008.
The Fabia is most likely to pitted against the Swift and the Getz which are both sellers in their segments. With a body weight of 1090kg the Fabia is heavier than the Swift (980kg) and the Getz (99kg) which makes it seem a bit low-powered especially in the diesel variant. The Swift belts out 87 bhp from its petrol unit and 75 bhp from its diesel one while the Hyundai Getz diesel gives a 110 bhp from its 1.5 litre diesel engine.
Of the three hatchbacks Fabia is highest on torque at 155nm@1600 to 2800rpm against the Swift's 103 nm@4500rpm and the Getz' 11.8@3200rpm. This will ensure a good pick up and may make up somewhat for its lower power.
Fabia's three-cylinder engine will definitely give it an edge over the other two hatchbacks in it being able to go easy on fuel a definite plus in India.
Fabia will be priced between Rs4.99 to Rs7.68 lakh depending on engine type and variant.
Fabia is the company's fourth offering in India after the Octavia, the Laura and premium car Superb. It will be manufactured at the company's manufacturing plant in Aurangabad.
While the car may lag behind Swift Getz on performance its features are definitely at the top of the line and is also a popular car worldwide.
Available in six colors - Corrida Red, Satin Grey, Brilliant Silver, Magic Black, Candy White and Cappuccino beige the Skoda Fabia is lavishly equipped for a hatchback and the top end variant titled 'Elegance' has ABS, EBD, dual front airbags, sunroof, 2 din sound system, alloy wheels, parkatronic, projector headlamps etc. The diesel Fabia 1.4 Tdi gives a top speed of 168 kmph, while on the acceleration front it can go from 0 to 100 km/hr in 15 seconds. The boot space is around 300 liters and with a height of 1513 mm, it offers as much headroom as the Swift and the Getz. The Fabia however, scores on offering more legroom with a length of 3992 mm against Swift's 3825mm and Getz' 3695 mm but of the three the Swift is the most comfortable with a width of 1690 mm while the Getz is slightly less at 1665 mm followed by the Fabia at 1642mm.
In six years of operations Skoda India has so far sold 47,000 units of passenger cars. The company sells three variants of Sedans -- Octavia, Laura and Superb - in India and has a network of 50 dealerships across the country.
Skoda Auto is also working on developing a small car apart from the Fabia for the Indian market, and expects to showcase it at the next Auto Expo at Delhi.
Reinhard Jung, chairman of the Board, Skoda Auto, said the company was planning a small car for India. Other company officials said the small car was expected to be priced below the base model of Fabia which is below Rs 5 lakh.
Skoda was earlier planning to build a car for the Asian market but the project was left incomplete. The Czech car maker has recently completed the process of augmenting the production capacity at its Aurangabad plant from the existing 15,000 units to 30,000 units per annum. The total investment in this plant where Skoda models like the Laura, Superb, Octavia and the newly launched Fabia are assembled is €100 million.