The Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo launched with some wow factor earlier in 2022.
Not only did the collective automotive car reviewer scene gasp at this sporty looking new model’s appearance, they also were left with jaws agape at the price.
And now, it’s even more expensive than it used to be. Prices rose mid-2023 because, of course they did – but, there was no spec adjustment to make the deal sweeter.
So is it sweet enough to consider, even at such a big cost? Or are there other options you ought to look at if you want a stylish city hatch? Let’s find out.
There is only one grade of Skoda Fabia available in Australia, the Monte Carlo Edition 150 at $38,990 drive-away.
That price is just a few hundred bucks more than the list price (RRP) of $38,590, which in turn is $600 more than when it launched.
Either way, you have to consider that this is a Skoda city hatchback with a higher price than the related Volkswagen Polo, which starts from just $25,990 and ranges all the way to $39,690 for the GTI hot hatch, which in turn makes this not-a-hot-hatch-Skoda look a bit pricey.
It even costs more than some versions of the also-related Audi A1, which starts from $34,250 for the 1.0-litre 30 TFSI, and $36,850 for the 1.5-litre 35 TFSI version – which has the same engine and outputs as this.
Yes. I’m saying you can get an equivalent Audi for less than a Skoda. But this Skoda does come extensively equipped – I’ll run through the details in that section down below.
The Fabia Monte Carlo looks sporty and feels a bit playful inside. The bolstered, fabric-trimmed sports seats and leather steering wheel with perforated bits make it feel pretty athletic, and the materials are mostly pretty nice, too.
There is a carbon-look finish across the dash and on the seat edges, with nice white stitching that is mirrored on the seats and other touchpoints in the cabin. I really like that there’s a big, bold “FABIA” embossed on the dash-top portion of the instrument cluster surround.
Some red material highlights are strewn throughout the cabin, too, with a bar across the dashboard (including a single ambient light), and a section down near the centre console surround. One strip of red adorns the seat trim, too.
My biggest annoyance with the cabin is the cupholder situation. They’re too small and too shallow, so those of us who like a take-away coffee (in a throw-away cup or a Keep Cup) will find it’s a bigger issue than it might appear to those who don’t fancy road beverages.
Otherwise there are bottle holders in the doors, a covered console with armrest, a storage spot with a wireless phone charger in front of the gear selector with an additional stowage box ahead of it, and a manual handbrake.
There are proper controls for the air-con system for temperature adjustment, recirculation air-con, and seat heating, but you have to adjust the fan speed through the infotainment screen, which can be annoying if you like to fiddle with the fan speed a lot.
That 9.2-inch touchscreen has wired or wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and it has built-in sat nav too; but it doesn’t have a volume knob or any physical ‘buttons’ despite having a strip of touch controls on the edge. It also features gesture controls, so you can simply swipe your hand in front of the screen to jump through menus.
There’s another digital display for the driver, with configurable displays that allow you to get the info you want, where you want it. Well, for the most part, anyway – I had some issues trying to figure out the trip computer info.
The steering wheel has buttons and dials on it to allow you to move through the menus on that screen, while there’s also a safety assist button that you can press to toggle safety systems, if you wish. I learned the sequence for disabling the active lane keeping tech quick smart in this car, because I don’t like how pushy it is.
Now, back seat space is a big consideration if you plan to carry big humans with you – because it’s not overly accommodating in the second row. I had the driver’s seat set for my position – I’m 182cm or 6’0 – and I struggled to have any wiggle room for my knees or feet while wedged in behind that spot.
There’s good headroom though, and it will be fine if you plan to take littler occupants or kids with you, as there are ISOFIX points in the window seats and three top-tethers as well. Just don’t go thinking you will fit three adults across, side by side, it’s too tight for that.
In this car there’s a little storage tray between the seats on the transmission tunnel hump that further limits the potential for that, but it does offer just a little bit of extra (lolly?) storage. On the seat backs there are dual map pockets, and there are bottle holders in the doors, too. Plus rear-seat riders get directional air vents and a pair of USB-C ports.
In the boot there’s a claimed 380 litres of cargo space but it’s a bit of a weird shape, and so fitting a larger pram isn’t a simple task because it’s quite a tall boot area, but not that deep.
Even so, if you need more room, folding the 60:40 split-fold rear seats down will allow 1190L of capacity. You’ll just need to remove the nets and cargo accessories before you do… there are so many practicality facets to the luggage hold in this car, that you’re bound to lose or misplace one of the nets or shields at some point.
One terrific feature is the reversible cargo mat, which has a rubberised side which is great for damp or muddy items, and a carpet side as well. I’d say that if you want a more practical small Skoda in terms of boot or back-seat space, you really, really need to check out the larger Skoda Scala – it’s super practical.
The Fabia Monte Carlo runs a 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, with 110kW of power (6000rpm) and 250Nm of torque (1500-3500rpm).
Funny that – exactly the same as that Audi I mentioned earlier… except that the Audi does 0-100km/h in 7.7 seconds, whereas the Skoda takes 8.0s. It’s mated to a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch transmission, and it’s front-wheel drive.
What about fuel consumption? Well it’s a little engine with a pretty amazing official combined cycle fuel consumption figure of 4.9 litres per 100 kilometres.
Over a week of testing, with urban, open road, highway and freeway driving, I saw a real-world number of 5.2L/100km – impressive!
If semi-sporty is what you want, semi-sporty is what you’ll get here. If you’ve ever thought, “geez I’d like a hot-hatch, but I don’t want to deal with the hot-hatch-ness of one full-time”, then this could be a great choice for you.
It’s sporty enough to drive to tick the box for those who think they are car enthusiasts but know they won’t go to track days and understand the value of their driver’s licence. It’s a smart car, in that regard.
There’s ample grunt from the 1.5-litre turbo-petrol engine, which is a likeable thing. It offers tractable grunt and poke aplenty, with – at times – too much punch.
It can overwhelm the front tyres under hard acceleration from a standstill, leading to tyre scrabble and, in wet situations, some ‘axle tramp’, where it feels like the front end is bumping up and down as it struggles to try and get purchase on the road below.
However, unlike some previous small-capacity turbos with DSG autos, this one doesn’t have a lot of the low-speed hesitations and frustrations dealt with.
There’s a bit of hesitation if start-stop is active, but it does move away from a standstill pretty promptly once the engine refires, without too much of that known dual-clutch hesitation to contend with, thankfully.
That makes it a relatively easy car to live with in daily driving situations, with a pretty urban-friendly nature. But it’s also good on the open road, with smooth and quick shifts at speed.
The steering is lovely, nice in its weighting and nippy enough for the fun factor to present itself if you happen across a couple of corners that are begging for a bootful, and it’s also really easy to turn the wheel at lower speeds for parking moves, too.
My biggest frustrations with the drive experience are the suspension firmness, which can be unrelenting over bumpy roads thanks to the 18-inch wheels and low-profile tyres combining with the stiffened sports suspension. It can get tiresome if the road surface is patchy.
And likewise, the amount of road noise intrusion into the cabin by way of those tyres can be frustrating. Over coarse-chip roads, of which there are plenty in Australia, the roar in the cabin can get to an unbearable level if you’re sensitive to sound.
Fabia Monte Carlo Edition 150 highlights:
- 18-inch black alloy wheels
- Space saver spare wheel
- Stiffened sports suspension
- Drive mode selection modes
- Bi-LED headlights with cornering function
- LED daytime running lights
- Front snd rear fog lights
- LED tail lights
- LED side repeaters in side mirrors
- Parking sensors front and rear
- Tyre pressure monitoring
- Gloss exterior black accents
- Rear diffuser
- Side mirrors
- Electrically adjustable
- Aluminium door sill trims
- Rear privacy glass
- Proximity key entry
- Rain-sensing wipers
- Aluminium finish pedals
- Black headlining and pillar trim
- Auto dimming rear-view mirror
- Charcoal fabric sports seats with strips
- Heated front seats
- Red interior trim highlights
- Flat-bottom steering wheel
- Dual-zone air conditioning with humidity sensor
- LED ambient interior lighting
- Umbrella in the driver’s door
- 9.2-inch touchscreen infotainment
- Satellite navigation
- 6-speaker audio
- Wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
- Bluetooth phone, audio streaming
- Digital radio
- Voice control
- 10.25 inch ‘Virtual Cockpit’ instrument cluster
- Wireless charging pad
- 4 x USB-C outlets
What’s missing? Well, the front seats are manually adjustable, not electric, so there’s that. You also can’t get it with leather seat trim, and nor is there an available sunroof – so it might have a lot, but it doesn’t come with the lot.
It scored the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating in 2021 with scores of 85 per cent for adult protection, 81 per cent for child protection, 70 per cent for vulnerable road-user protection, and 71 per cent for safety assist.
Standard safety features include:
- 6 airbags
- AEB with Pedestrian, Cyclist detection
- Adaptive Cruise Control
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Rear cross-traffic alert
- ISOFIX x 2, top tethers x 3
- Lane Assist
- Manoeuvre Braking Assist
- Multi-Collision Brake
- Rain Brake Support
- Driver Fatigue Detection
- Emergency stop signal
- Parking sensors front and rear
- Reversing camera
- Seat belt reminder
- Speed limiter
- Tyre pressure monitoring
Skoda recently stepped up its warranty game, with all new models sold covered by a seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.
That’s two years better than before, and could be an easy justification for why it costs a bit more now.
But, there are some other really promising elements for people who plan to buy and hang on to their car for a long period. For instance, if you service your car with Skoda, you will be eligible for up to nine years of roadside assistance at no extra cost.
Servicing is pretty decent too, if you buy one of the brand’s prepaid service packs. There’s a five-year/75,000km plan for $1800 or a seven-year/105,000km plan for $2500 – they work out a lot cheaper than if you pay as you go, too.
Not bad… not bad at all.
I can see the value in the Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo for someone who wants a sporty looking, sporty feeling little hatchback but doesn’t want or need the unrelenting sportiness of something like a VW Polo GTI.
However, if that’s you, I’d say that you could also get a whole lot of European city car in the form of the aforementioned Audi A1, perhaps without some of the compromise the sports suspension exhibits in this car.
It has a lot of the Skoda brilliance that we’ve come to expect, and the longer warranty does help make it a bit easier to justify. But you’re going to have to really want the Fabia Monte Carlo to be able to justify it.
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