Upping the ante: 2022 Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo first drive review

A red Skoda Fabia powers through a corner.

Craig Duff

Posted September 06, 2022


Skoda has gone all-in on its sporty hatchback, betting that the highly specified vehicle will rate against the Audi A1 and top-spec Toyota Yaris.

The gambling adage that the house always wins will hold true for the Volkswagen Group after the release of its latest hatchback. It will, however, come at the expense of one of the brands in its portfolio.

The just-launched Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo is now a direct rival for the Audi A1 and even sports the same engine. That will entice some prospective owners to cross-shop the two models.

Buyers who are prepared to forgo the perceived badge cachet will benefit from extra standard equipment. Decisions, decisions …

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The Fabia Monte Carlo is the only variant in Skoda's light hatch line-up.
Sharp looks and dual-tone paintwork give the Skoda Fabia an imposing look on the road.
Boot space is good at 380 litres.

How much does the Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo cost?

The sticker price is $36,990 plus on-road costs. Skoda is sweetening the deal by offering a driveaway price of $37,990. Most of the exterior colours are free, but orange and red metallic hues add $500. Opt for the park assist feature and you’re up another $1000.

No matter which way you cut it, that’s not a cheap light hatch. In the same segment, a top-spec Toyota Yaris hybrid costs $32,200 plus on-road costs, the most expensive Mazda2 is $26,490 and a go-fast Hyundai i20 N is $34,990. Audi’s mid-spec A1 35 TSFI is $36,400 and a Mini Cooper starts at $37,500 plus on-roads.

Move up to the more spacious small hatch segment and a top-line Kia Cerato GT is $35,790 plus on-road costs, while a Mazda3 G25 GT is $35,690.

So Skoda is playing a high-stakes game. It justifies this by saying the standard equipment equates to a $15,000 upgrade to the previous model’s specification (and that car sold for $29,490 driveaway).

The other factor to consider here is Skoda is only selling one variant. Skoda Australia director Michael Irmer said customers have gravitated to the more expensive versions, which is why it is only (for now) offering the Fabia in Monte Carlo guise.

“The value of Skoda resides in providing the most metal, the very latest in technical sophistication and the best whole of life ownership proposition for the money. We have launched the new generation Fabia in its top line configuration because this is what our customers tell us they want from a Skoda,” Irmer noted.

Pre-paid servicing runs to $1,500 over five years.

Is the Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo safe?

The Skoda Fabia ticks all the boxes as far as ANCAP is concerned and has accordingly earned a five-star rating.

Safety software includes autonomous emergency braking, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assistance and blind-spot monitoring.

ANCAP deemed the Fabia worthy of an 85 per cent mark for adult occupant protection, 81 per cent for child occupant protection, 70 per cent for vulnerable road users and 71 per cent for safety assist features.

The only obvious omissions from the safety suite are the absence of a front centre airbag to prevent head-clashes for front-seat occupants in a side-on hit, autonomous braking when reversing and when turning at an intersection.

 

The Skoda Fabia boast a sporty interior with a 9.2-inch infotainment touchscreen.
Space in the rear is better than average for a vehicle in the light car segment.
Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo owners can choose from four drive modes.

What’s the Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo like inside?

The interior ambience looks and feels a grade above mainstream city hatch rivals.

It isn’t one of Skoda’s performance focused RS models, but the Fabia has been finished with an overtly sporty approach, such as the red highlights throughout the cabin, the leather-wrapped steering wheel and the heavily bolstered front seats.

The infotainment touchscreen measures 9.2 inches and responds rapidly to inputs. It includes satellite navigation and digital radio broadcast through a six-speaker sound system.

Other appreciated touches include wireless phone charging, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity and a 10.26-inch digital driver’s display with a variety of settings, along with tinted rear windows.

The dual-zone climate control includes rear vents, which isn’t a common trait in the light car class, and there are a pair of USB-C ports up front and another two for use by rear seat passengers.

Cargo space is 380 litres, which is well above most of its competitors.

What’s under the Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo’s bonnet?

A 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine powers the front wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

The combination propels the Skoda Fabia with far more alacrity than most cars in this segment.

Skoda quotes 8.0 seconds for the run to 100km/h.

That’s impressive, if not challenging the sub seven-second times of the VW Polo GTI and Hyundai i20 N.

Is the Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo efficient?

Fuel use on the claimed combined cycle is a scant 4.9 litres over 100km. The Skoda Fabia achieves this by using cylinder deactivation (dropping out two of the four cylinders) under light load.

Urban fuel use is 6.3 litres/100km. These figures are based on using at least 95 RON fuel.

A trip from Sydney to Melbourne, involving an initial urban run, saw 5.5 litres/100km in real world driving.

 

The Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo costs $37.990 on the road.
Stylish 18-inch alloy wheels reinforce the Skoda Fabia's sporty aspiration.
Red (pictured) and orange are the only exterior colours to attract a price premium.

How does the Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo drive?

The sprint to 100km/h is impressive, but far from the whole story.

Taut suspension, decent tyres and direct steering ensure the Fabia can be confidently pointed into a series of bends without wallowing body roll or the front-end pushing wide.

It isn’t a fresh out of the oven hot hatch … but it is a microwave well-warmed version.

The suspension tune means the Fabia can jostle over small corrugations as the 18-inch wheels patter above the ruts. Bigger impacts are less intrusive and inspire owners to push the car harder on country roads.

The seats are hugely comfortable and constrain sideways movement through the bends.

Drive modes enable owners to amp up the power delivery depending on their moods and the road conditions.

Should I buy one?

The Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo represents a lot of cash for a light car, but you aren’t light-on for features or performance.

Those looking for interior room at this price would do well to look at the small car class. There will be a trade-off in performance and features.

For those who want a light car (though at 4.1 metres in length the Fabia is one of the larger cars in its class) and are prepared to pay for the latest mod-cons, the Skoda represents a value-for-money proposition.

Skoda is gambling on buyers in this segment wanting a car with all the fruit. Given the company’s accelerated growth in Australia, I wouldn’t bet against them holding the trump card.

 

The information provided is general advice only. Before making any decisions please consider your own circumstances and the Product Disclosure Statement and Target Market Determinations. For copies, visit racv.com.au. As distributor, RACV Insurance Services Pty Ltd AFS Licence No. 230039 receives commission for each policy sold or renewed. Product(s) issued by Insurance Manufacturers of Australia ABN 93 004 208 084 AFS Licence No. 227678.


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