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Skoda Fabia to kick off with autonomous braking

Make or brake: Skoda's Fabia will be one of just two vehicles in the light-car segment to offer AEB as standard.

Autonomous emergency braking to be standard on forthcoming third-gen Skoda Fabia

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Skoda logo8 Jun 2015

By TIM NICHOLSON

SKODA Australia has announced it will offer its forthcoming new-generation Fabia light car with low-speed autonomous emergency braking as standard across the range, when it arrives in local dealerships next month.

The Czech brand's smallest offering in Australia will feature its Front Assistant with the City Emergency Braking function as standard fare for all variants.

While it is yet to be crash tested by the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP), the third-generation model was awarded five stars by Euro NCAP and named 'best in class' after achieving the highest overall safety score for its segment.

The outgoing second-gen Fabia received a four-star rating from ANCAP.

Skoda's version of the autonomous braking system uses a radar sensor to measure the distance to the traffic ahead, and it intervenes with warnings and/or automatic emergency stopping when the distance is too small.

The Front Assistant system uses four levels to prevent a crash, with level one being a visual warning, level two a visual and acoustic warning of an obstacle and a “conditioning” of the brakes, while level three adds a braking impulse that provides more warning as the partial braking kicks in.

The fourth level shifts the brake assistant to “maximum response” which then activates the emergency braking if the driver has not reacted.

Part of the system is the City Emergency Braking function which can activate between 5 and 30km/h if there is no response from the driver when an obstacle is detected.

According to ANCAP, the Fiat Panda and the recently discontinued Volkswagen Up are the only other offerings in the light-car class to offer autonomous emergency braking as standard, although it is an option on some variants of the Mazda2, Volkswagen Polo and Mini hatch.

The overwhelming majority of models on ANCAP's list of cars featuring AEB as standard or optional equipment are European premium cars and SUVs.

ANCAP has been pushing car-makers to include AEB as standard fitment on models for more than a year, with a number of state-based transport safety bodies, notably Victoria's Transport Accident Commission (TAC), initiating marketing campaigns designed to encourage new-car buyers to purchase a car that features the technology.

Earlier this year, ANCAP noted that the number of vehicles on the Australian market with AEB had grown from 129 to 164 since the TAC launched its campaign in mid 2014.

TAC chief executive officer Janet Dore said in February that while it is expected that premium brands would offer AEB on their high-end models, more and more mainstream car-makers including Holden, Toyota, Hyundai, Honda, Mazda, Subaru and Volkswagen now offering it for some of their models.

“You would expect to see the luxury brands adopting these types of technologies early in the piece but it really is encouraging to see AEB turning up in many of the more affordable showrooms,” she said.

“Anyone in the market for a new car really should put the latest safety features, like AEB, at the top of their shopping list. It could save their life.”

The Fabia lands in showrooms next month in hatch and 'Combi' wagon body styles, however, pricing and specification for the Czech-built range remain under wraps until closer to the launch.

Skoda Australia director Michael Irmer said the inclusion of AEB as standard across the Fabia range makes sense given it is a city-centric runabout.

“The Fabia is the perfect city vehicle, combining Skoda's simply clever features in a spacious and attractive package, that brings with it an very important safety feature to a car that will spend most of its time in our cities where this technology is most beneficial,” he said.

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