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Road tests

New Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo 2022 review

New Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo adds sporty looks and extra power with new 1.5 TSI engine option, but it's still far from a hot hatch

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

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Verdict 

In all forms, the latest Fabia is a challenger to the very best superminis. Some will certainly see a benefit to the extra power of this 1.5 TSI engine over the existing 1.0-litre unit - especially as it sacrifices almost nothing in fuel consumption - but don’t let the looks of the Monte Carlo fool you; this is not a remotely sporty hatchback.

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To some people, the name Monte Carlo will conjure up glitz, glamour and excess. If you’re a petrolhead, however, it’s more likely to see your brain jump straight to Formula One cars brushing barriers at high speed. It might even remind you of a World Rally car slithering through the Col de Turini on a cold January evening.

It’s the latter that Skoda’s long-running tie-in with the Fabia will have your mind racing towards. After all, the Czech brand still competes in WRC2 - the second tier of international rallying - with its previous-generation model.

This, then, is the latest Fabia Monte Carlo, which sits at the top of the Renault Clio and Vauxhall Corsa rival’s line-up. It’s easy to spot the differences between the Monte Carlo and lesser Fabias, because the more purposeful body kit adds an extra degree of excitement from the off. The front bumper has a chin spoiler that juts forward from the underside of the bumper, while deeper side skirts and an extended rear spoiler add to the sporty design. It rides on 17 inch wheels as standard, with 18-inch items optional.

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The Fabia’s cabin ranks up there with the best in the supermini segment for both design, quality and practicality. The Monte Carlo is lifted by a racier black-and-red theme that wouldn’t look out of place in a full-blown hot hatch. The seats look great and offer plenty of side support, but they’d be even better if they could be adjusted a little lower. While many users will make use of the slick Android Auto and Apple CarPlay for mapping, it’s a surprise to see that built-in sat-nav is a £1,050 option on this range-topping model.

On the technical side, the Monte Carlo marks the introduction of a more powerful engine option in the Fabia. This 1.5-litre TSI unit makes 148bhp and 250Nm - a full 40bhp and 50Nm clear of the existing 1.0 TSI, an engine that can also be paired with Monte Carlo trim. 

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The 1.5 is mated exclusively to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. In a car of this size, those figures deliver strong performance. A 0-62mph time of eight seconds flat is suitably rapid, and it’ll keep going all the way to 140mph.  

While the engine is willing to perform however, the gearbox takes the edge off the sportiness. For everyday driving it’s fine, at least for the most part - it’s a little jerky at low speeds. But try to drive keenly and it all feels rather lazy and unresponsive. You can knock the gearbox into Sport mode and it’ll hang onto the lower gears a little longer, but it’s a shame that there’s no gearshift paddles mounted on the wheel to offer a little extra degree of control, especially in this sportiest of Fabias. It is possible to take manual control with the gear lever, but like most VW Group DSG gearboxes, inputs for up and downshifts are counter-intuitive, so it’s not all that satisfying to use.

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Despite the styling and new engine, there are no technical changes to the chassis, so it’s very much business as usual from behind the wheel. This means safe and precise handling, but not the most fun.

That combination of big-ish engine in a small car translates into decent fuel consumption, though. Officially, the 49.7mpg claim is just 0.2mpg behind the 1.0-litre TSI with an auto box. In most situations, it’s easy to top 50mpg on a motorway cruise, and economy in the mid-forties is achievable in mixed driving.

Prices for the Fabia Monte Carlo 1.5 TSI start from £23,735. That’s £1,800 more than the 1.0-litre unit in the same trim, the difference between £365 and £320 per month if you go for a three-year PCP agreement with a £2,500 deposit. While we’d recommend the 1.0 to most, there’s a place for the bigger engine among long distance drivers and those who crave a little more performance. Just don’t expect hot hatch thrills.

Model:

Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo

Price:

£23,735

Engine:

1.5-litre 4cyl turbo petrol

Power/torque:

148bhp/250Nm

Transmission:

Seven-speed dual-clutch auto, front-wheel drive

0-62mph:

8.0 seconds

Top speed:

140mph

Economy/CO2:

49.7mpg/129g/km

On sale:

Now

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Chief reviewer

Alex joined Auto Express as staff writer in early 2018, helping out with news, drives, features, and the occasional sports report. His current role of Chief reviewer sees him head up our road test team, which gives readers the full lowdown on our comparison tests.

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