Skoda Fabia, Rational Pack

EVEN IN A SECTOR bursting with common sense, neatly squared-away flair and everyday functionality, the Skoda Fabia is more sensible than most superminis.

No surprise that the recipe hasn’t changed much for this minor facelift: it’s still a rational choice, appealing for its space, proven VW underpinnings and sub-£13k entry price undercutting its closest in-house relatives, the VW Polo and Seat Ibiza. That it can offer this cost advantage is because the Fabia is based on older VW bits and bobs. But you’d barely know it from the drive – it still rides and steers with a pleasing maturity that belies its modest status.

The easy second album

Hyundai’s i30N hot hatch was a surprise star, and now there’s a coupe version. A prototype drive bodes well… By James Taylor

DO NOT ADJUST your set: this is a camouflaged prototype, not a production car. At least, not yet. It’s the Hyundai i30 Fastback N, an upcoming coupéfied version of the i30N hatch.

From a standing start, Hyundai’s N performance division is quickly becoming a key player in the hot hatch world. That’s thanks mostly to the surprising excellence of its first car, the i30N. We’ve run one as a long-term test car over the last few months (see page 134 for its final report), and its big character, big

The ever-evolving Mazda roadster hits a new high with the latest version, combining a cleaner and more powerful engine with familiar chassis brilliance. By CJ Hubbard

WELCOME TO ROMANIA, home of Dracula, Dacia and the Transfagarasan road across the Carpathian mountains, so famously wiggly that on paper it looks like the output of a seismograph someone has accidentally knocked off a shelf in the middle of recording a minor geological event. It’s got more hairpins than Claire’s Accessories, climbs to over 2000 metres and sounds like the ideal place to launch a new, more powerful evolution of the Mazda MX-5.

Dallara Stradale Need to Win Trackdays?

…then just pop £166k to the folks at Dallara (yes, that one), and they’ll furnish you with the outstandingly fast and pure Stradale. And you’ll have no excuses… By Georg Kacher

DALLARA BUILDS RACE cars for a living. So it won’t come as much of a surprise to learn that the marque’s first road car feels like one. Across the startfinish line, flat-out in third gear, the two-seater is present but for a moment and then gone, trailing a bellowing burble sequentially interrupted by two more upshifts (a manual ’box is standard, the sequential optional).

ALFA ROMEO GIULIA VELOCE

‘Fast’ or ‘Four Leaves’?

That the Alfa Giulia Veloce is no Quadrifoglio sounds like bad news. It isn’t. By Ben Miller

YOU DON’T NEED fluent Italian to know that while ‘fast’ is ‘fast’, ‘four leaves’ is faster. Thus the Veloce sits some way below the full-house Quadrifoglio in the Alfa Romeo Giulia range; not as fast, as overtly aggressive, quite as visually arresting nor anything like as expensive. UK Veloce pricing kicks off at £38,265. You’ll need another £23k to go shopping for a Quadrifoglio.

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