Skoda has developed its own loyal cohort of fans in Ireland for its range of well-built, practical cars that offer access to Volkswagen Group technology and engines at affordable prices.
Skoda brings all that to the small car segment with the Fabia. An all-new Fabia (not just a facelift!) was launched in Ireland in late 2014, but a more recent addition to the range is the sporty-styled Fabia Monte Carlo.
The Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo will get pulses racing with sporty interior and exterior design. Power comes from a choice of a 1.0-litre petrol (75bhp), 1.2-litre turbo petrols (90bhp or 110bhp), or a 1.4-litre diesel (90bhp), but the 1.2-litre with 110bhp is the one to go for if you want to bop around town and up and down mountain roads like it’s the Monte Carlo rally. You’ll probably finish in last place, but at least you will have fun doing it.
While the Fabia range starts at a reasonable €13,895 for a 1.0-litre 60bhp five door hatchback in Active trim, the Monte Carlo range starts at a heftier €17,995 so it’s for the buyer who wants a small car with a strong image and more visual appeal.
Breaking news: the Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo is sexy. The new Fabia is all angles and lines and attitude, but in the glossy Corrida Red of the test car with black contrasting finish on the door mirrors, tips of the side skirts, bumpers, and on the optional 17” alloys (16” standard), the Fabia Monte Carlo does turn heads.
Inside there are gorgeous red and black seats, slightly questionable red plastic around the storage compartments below the centre console, and a fantastic flat bottomed steering wheel. The equipment upgrade for the Monte Carlo trim includes a full length fixed panoramic glass roof and rear parking sensors. The cabin feels solid and well-built but it’s not particularly plush – there’s quite a lot of scratchy black plastic. The dash design is simple and mature, and a touchscreen with Bluetooth comes as standard.
My test car has the firecracker that is the 1.2-litre TSI turbo petrol with 110bhp under the bonnet. 0-100kmh is an inspiring 9.4 seconds and there’s what feels like a huge boost of power when you pull it into second gear, with a surprising little growl too. This car is so nippy around town and is well up for keeping up with traffic on the motorway. It will return up to 59mpg, while motor tax of €190 per year keeps it within the lines of providing the efficiency that small car buyers want.
The Fabia is a bit noisy when you’re out driving on the motorway with a fair bit of road and wind noise coming into the cabin. Around town you can hear that engine working but that helps define the sporty character of the car (it’s the Monte Carlo version after all!). It’s mostly a comfortable small car but bumps and ruts in town can be felt in the cabin.
Yet this Fabia is fun to drive. You’ve got all that explosive, rev-happy, turbo petrol power, good grip through those front tyres when cornering, and well-weighted, direct steering to keep you in touch with what’s going on underneath. So though it’s no hot hatch, you can work out the car’s limits quickly and still be able to get the best from the car.
The thing is if you spec the car with the 1.2-litre TSI 110bhp engine you’re looking at a list price of €19,945, which is in the same price bracket as high end models like this from other brands, but obviously we’ve well and truly moved out of the realm of the cheap small car. Sure the running costs will be low but what else are you getting?
Luckily the Fabia is one of the more practical superminis with rear passengers getting good head and legroom, and the boot volume is really good for a supermini – 330 litres which is actually a bit more more than in the Ford Focus.
The Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo is for the small car buyer who wants a car with attitude and a bit more power, and is willing to pay a premium for what is still a small car. The Skoda Fabia’s practicality, build and strong image makes that an easier to decision to make.
Model Tested: Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo 5-door 1.2 TSI 110bhp
Engine: 1.2-litre turbo petrol
0-100km/h: 9.4 seconds
CO2 Emissions: 110g/km
Motor Tax: €190 per year