Skoda Fabia

Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo lr


By Tim Saunders

The city of Monte Carlo has had a long association with motorsport, ever since the Monaco Grand Prix was founded in 1929 using the city streets as part of the challenging circuit. A circuit that has seen some of Britain’s finest racing drivers clinching victory such as Graham Hill and more recently Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button.

Why am I talking about this famous French Formula One race? Because I happen to be behind the wheel of a Skoda Fabia… Monte Carlo. It’s a racy little number that reminds me of a plush bachelor pad, as I cast my eyes over the striped seats. There’s definitely a hint of sportiness about this five-door family hatchback. There’s a liberal smattering of leather on the gearstick, handbrake and steering wheel. But somehow it’s more staid than a typical hot hatch. Yes, it’ll reach 60mph from standstill in under 11 seconds and will go on to over 110mph. But such figures can be found in a plethora of similar vehicles. This is more of a design statement than a blisteringly fast GTi, greatly helped in my opinion by the classic meteor grey finish and contrasting black radiator grille and wing mirrors. While lovers of the old vRS might be disappointed by the performance its efficiency might compensate. It’s a real pleasure to just sit and admire the colour which is offset extremely well by its 16” Italia black alloy wheels. It’s generally comfortable to drive too, with a good driving position although I find there is a lack of lumbar support on the driver’s seat. I am a fan of panoramic glass roofs and I am delighted to see one in the Fabia; it really does lift the levels of light in the cabin. It is good to see a traditional handbrake instead of an electric switch, which so many manufacturers seem to prefer these days. And a five speed manual gearbox. I do question whether six speeds are actually necessary. Skoda clearly doesn’t think so. The Monte Carlo is a responsive little mover, the gearbox is decisive and the brakes are decent. I am surprised that on a vehicle of this price (test model £16,695) that the wing mirrors are not power folding and that there are not electric rear windows but luxuries do include heated front seats and touchscreen navigation. After hard driving there is a distinctive ‘click clicking’ sound from the car as it cools down, which I haven’t heard so clearly from a car before. Valves or brakepads I suspect. The quiet raspy note to the exhaust is certainly attractive.

At the end of the day this is a well made, good quality hatchback that has had an injection of understated character. It generally goes by unnoticed from the outside world and does not prevent an erratic driver of a white Mercedes Benz van from undercutting me on the motorway.

During my research I note that Chevrolet named its coupe Monte Carlo between 1970 and 1988 and from 1995 to 2007. It was clearly successful for Chevy and I am sure Skoda is hoping to replicate this with its own smaller more perfectly formed version.

Facts at a glance

Model tested Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo 1.2 TSi 90PS
Price: £16,695
0-60mph: 10.9secs
Top speed: 113mph
Economy: upto 60.1mpg
Power: 90bhp 

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