UK Drive: The Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo adds extra style to this appealing supermini

Skoda has had plenty of success in the Monte Carlo rally, which inspires this model’s name. (Skoda)

Monte Carlo. The home of the mega rich, yachts bigger than detached houses and more supercars per square mile than almost anywhere on the planet. So, without sounding snobby, it seems a slightly strange nameplate to use on a Skoda supermini.

But there’s more to Monte Carlo than just the chintz, as it’s steeped in motorsport history, with the Monaco Grand Prix and also the legendary Monte Carlo Rally. It’s the latter where Skoda has had much success over the years, with the Monte Carlo nameplate being used across the brand’s models for more than a decade in celebration. Skoda is now back with a new Fabia Monte Carlo, but what’s it like?

Styling changes include larger 17-inch alloy wheels. (Skoda)

The Monte Carlo sits at the top of the Skoda Fabia line-up, and with no vRS version planned for this latest fourth generation supermini, serves as the sportiest model.

It’s largely cosmetic changes where the Fabia Monte Carlo benefits, with the fitment of 17-inch alloy wheels, sports seats and a racier bodykit around the full exterior of the Fabia, but more on that later. Skoda has also introduced a more potent engine to the Monte Carlo that’s not available on other trim levels.

A turbocharged 1.5 TSI petrol engine is exclusive to the Monte Carlo. (Skoda)

The majority of buyers will opt for the standard turbocharged 108bhp 1.0-litre TSI petrol engine that’s widely found in the regular Fabia. Available with either a six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG automatic, it’s able to accelerate this supermini to 60mph in under 10 seconds, while averaging up to a claimed 55mpg.

Despite more performance, it’s still efficient – Skoda claims 49.7mpg (a figure we regularly saw on the trip computer) and CO2 emissions between 129 and 137g/km.

The Fabia Monte Carlo drives well, but it’s no hot hatch. (Skoda)

Make no mistake, this Fabia Monte Carlo is no hot hatch, but it’s still good to drive and offers a great ‘small car feel’ down the right road. It handles neatly, grips to the road well and can be enjoyed, though a Ford Fiesta offers a more engaging to drive.

The 1.5-litre TSI engine goes well too, offering plenty of pace when you want it, but settling down when you just want to make steady progress. The lack of cruise control at all is an annoyance, and feels particularly stingy on a top-spec supermini – an entry-level Polo, for example, gets it as standard.

Our test car also rode on optional, larger 18-inch alloy wheels. While they certainly looked the part, the ride was very firm and crashy over bumps. We suspect the standard 17-inch wheels are a better option.

Though Skoda has unquestionably smartened up the design of the latest-generation Fabia, in cheaper, lower-spec trims, the design is quite bland. It’s one of those cars that would drive by and you wouldn’t pay any attention to whatsoever.

A range of red accents add character to the Monte Carlo’s interior. (Skoda)

Skoda has also smartened up the interior of the Fabia Monte Carlo, as it gets appealing sports seats with integrated headrests that lift the cabin on their own. It also benefits from a raft of red accents that are welcome and add plenty of extra flair, including ambient lighting in this colour, along the door card trim and on the dashboard.

Though there are some harder plastics used throughout the cabin, it generally feels well-built and befitting of a top-spec supermini. Though rear legroom is average by class standards, the Fabia has one of the largest boots in its segment, measuring 380 litres – the same as the Volkswagen Golf from the class above.

The Fabia has one of the largest boots in its class. (Skoda)

The Fabia Monte Carlo is largely well-equipped, with highlights including 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control and LED headlights. An excellent 10.25-inch digital cockpit is also included, which offers sharp graphics and can be easily configured. The eight-inch touchscreen is quite basic, but includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Unless in-built sat nav is a must, we wouldn’t make the £1,100 upgrade to get the larger screen.

Prices for the Fabia Monte Carlo kick off from £21,125 for the 1.0-litre version, and another £1,000 if you’d prefer the automatic gearbox. This 1.5 TSI model comes in at £23,925, and with a few choice options, the price can quite easily rack up to £27,000, as was the case with our test car. At that price, you can get behind the wheel of a genuine hot hatch in the form of a Ford Fiesta ST and Hyundai i20 N.

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The Fabia Monte Carlo is a very appealing small car. (Skoda)

The Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo builds on the success of its predecessor by injecting lots of extra style and flair into this otherwise quite plain hatchback, and transforms it into a very eye-catching supermini. Yet, still largely retaining the Fabia’s reputation for quality and practicality.

The addition of the extra poke from the 1.5-litre engine is welcome, though we reckon the regular 1.0-litre models make the most sense considering the driving experience isn’t ‘sporty’. Be reserved with your options and this is a fun-looking hatch that represents great value, and could save you the need to upgrade to models in the class above.

  • Model: Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo
  • Price: £21,125
  • Model as tested: Skoda Fabia 1.5 TSI 150PS DSG
  • Price as tested: £27,250 (with options)
  • Engine: 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol
  • Power: 148bhp
  • Torque: 250Nm
  • 0-60mph: 7.8 seconds
  • Top speed: 139mph
  • Economy: 46.3-47.9mpg
  • Emissions: 134-137g/km CO2

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