The Skoda Fabia isn’t entirely what it used to be, for good and bad reasons.
Once a cheap and cheerful entry European light car, it’s now a more premium proposition. This is amplified by the fact that Skoda Australia is only bringing the flagship Monte Carlo Edition 150 variant here for now.
But at the same time, it brings a ton of added features, and looks and feels like a much more substantive vehicle – without losing the garish, sporty design touches that set this range-topper apart. Skoda’s take on an Audi A1 maybe?
Like other Skodas, this more mature Fabia squeezes a lot of space into a small package, meaning its competitor set is broad. The company itself bills everything from the Toyota Yaris, Mini Cooper Hatch Classic, and Hyundai i30 N Line as competitors.
“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,” claims brand director Michael Irmer, adding the average transaction price on a Skoda in Australia has climbed to $52,000.
Indeed (rarely for a Skoda) it’s largely bereft of options. Let’s look a little deeper.
The Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo Edition 150 costs $37,990 drive-away, which is a bit of a hike on the $29,490 drive-away price of the old (less powerful and well-equipped) model at the end of its life.
For $37,990 on the road you can get a bigger Mazda 3 G25 Evolve SP hatchback or i30 Hatch N Line. On the other hand, the Fabia flagship also sits about line ball with a Yaris ZR Hybrid, and is only $3500 more than an automatic Suzuki Swift Sport which feels like a cheaper vehicle.
So it’s all about how you look at it.
It’s pretty brash, as was the previous Monte Carlo.
There’s fire-truck red all over the dash, transmission tunnel, seats, and doors, contrasted with plenty of dust- and scratch-prone piano black trims, and silver metallic and faux carbon-fibre ones too. Plus very un-Skoda-like round air vents.
Detracting from the premium price tag are the rock hard plastics on the dash and less visible parts of the interior, but it’s hard to fault the actual build quality.
The ‘Monte Carlo’ labelled steering wheel is trimmed in lovely perforated leather and offers plenty of adjustments, as well as roller dials and buttons rather than today’s in-vogue haptic touchpads. Smart move, that…
The cruise control stalk is handily mounted below and behind the left spoke, and the starter button the right.
The striped seats offer excellent thigh bolstering, and the single-piece seat-back looks the part. They’re excellent, and not to mention heated.
Behind the wheel its a fairly familiar VW Group digital instrument cluster with numerous changeable menus and excellent clarity, which is definitely a cut above the class standard. You can also run full-size maps.
The centre touchscreen runs VW Group software but has its own Skoda design/skin, with bright and fun graphics and dead simple menus which you access via home screen tiles. There are helpful touch-sensitive shortcut sections bracketing the screen.
Having a wireless charger as well as wireless phone mirroring is a boon for anyone who loathes cables, and there’s also proper sat-nav that sends instructions to the instruments.
Below the screen sit the centre vents and physical buttons and rotary dials for the climate control, and below this sits a storage area with the Qi wireless charging pad and USB-C points.
Skoda being Skoda, there are also generous door bins and a storage cubby along the centre tunnel – albeit one with a removable cupholder attachment that comes as an accessory at launch – it’ll be standardised from October production. Talk to your dealer about a free one.
At just 4108mm long, the Fabia isn’t really designed to haul five people, but the second row is actually pretty spacious – I’m 194cm and could bear it, meaning your kids or even average-sized friends will be fine.
There are also vents, USB-C points, and storage cubbies back there.
The boot is big for the segment as well, about matching the VW Golf and Hyundai i30 with 380L of storage, growing to 1190L with the 60:40 back seats folded. Said boot has hooks, nets, and small storage sections, making it properly useable.
I mentioned the Mazda 3 earlier: well the Fabia’s interior is more practical in the back seats and boot. It also feels at least as spacious as a Corolla, if not more so. Classic Skoda.
The Monte Carlo isn’t a full-on hot hatch like a Volkswagen Polo GTI, but more an appearance package with brisk rather than heart-pounding performance.
Its 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol produces its 110kW at 6000rpm and a pretty meaty 250Nm of torque between 1500 and 3500rpm – well up on the old Fabia Monte Carlo’s 81kW and 200Nm three-cylinder.
This drives the front wheels through a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission. The zero to 100km/h time is a brisk 8.0 seconds, a byproduct of the relatively lithe 1265kg tare mass.
The engine meets Euro 6 regulations, has stop/start, and uses a claimed 4.9 litres per 100km on the combined cycle – albeit using minimum 95 RON fuel. Impressively, my mixed loop (about 75 per cent highway and 25 per cent inner-Sydney) yielded a hybrid-like 4.5L/100km.
This is not a full-on hot hatch with a tricky diff, adaptive dampers and things of that ilk, so let’s just get that out of the way. But the Monte Carlo never has been.
Regardless it’s a nice little thing to drive, offering good body control through corners – with the trade-off being a slightly firm ride which transmits expansion joints and corrugations into the cabin.
It rides on good quality Continental tyres which offer plenty of grip, but there’s some noticeable road roar over coarse chip bitumen like you find in regional Australia.
The electromechanical power steering has numerous resistance/weight settings dialled into the drive modes and is nicely responsive, but not the final word in engagement. The turning circle is 10.7m.
Those driving modes change the steering weight, throttle calibration and the adaptive cruise control’s responsiveness – numbing things back in Eco and sharpening them in Sport.
There is MacPherson strut front suspension and a simple torsion beam at the rear, but the body is stiffer than before thanks to more extensive use of high-tensile steel.
This Fabia iteration rides on the ubiquitous VW MQB architecture for the first time.
The engine offers ample punch and plenty of muscularity low down, and is more refined and less laggy in tandem with the DSG than the VW Group’s three-cylinder units. Super frugal too, as flagged above.
While the DSG is capable of rapid gear changes and, in Sport mode, aggressive downshifts, you can shift it manually within the ECU’s parameters via the gear stick: though you push it forward to upshift rather than the other way around.
There’s also no shortage of driver assist tech: the Fabia can match the speed of the car ahead, keep you within marked road lines, and alert to you blind spots and parallel-approaching vehicles from behind.
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 black:
- 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 and Android Auto
- Bluetooth phone and audio
- Digital radio
- Voice control
- 10.25 inch ‘Virtual Cockpit’ instrument cluster
- Wireless charging pad
- Four USB-C outlets
Skoda loves an option, but not here.
Just Park Assist for $1000 and the choices of Phoenix Orange or Velvet Red metallic paint for $500.
The Fabia has a 2021-stamped five-star ANCAP safety rating 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 and 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 provides a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty.
Servicing intervals are either 12 months or 15,000km, and you can pay for five or seven visits either upfront or just before the first service is due. These service packs are priced at $1500 for five years or 75,000km, and $2100 for seven years or 105,000km.
There are also various tiers of monthly servicing plans that package in everything from basic servicing through to tyres, brakes and other consumables.
The Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo Edition 150 has become quite the little high-tech, well-specified city car, with more interior space than you may guess.
It continues to occupy a space in the market just beneath a raft of proper hot hatches, but does so with much more panache than any of its predecessors did.
It’s not exactly a bargain compared to a few larger and more powerful offerings out there, but at least it comes fully loaded.
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