The refreshed Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo doesn’t punch you in the nose with its late-2018 alterations – it’s more understated than that, as Drive.co.uk’s Tim Barnes-Clay, reports.READ MORE...
I took the wheel of the updated Fabia on a bright day in Buckinghamshire. The Volkswagen Group the owner of Skoda wanted me to drive the facelifted car to see what I thought.
So, what did go on in my head? To be frank, I had to utter to myself “this is a new motor” when playing around in the Fabia. But before I even started the car, I needed to narrow my eyes to see the modified design.
In an effort to make the Fabia look new, the arty types at Skoda have given it leaner lights, rear bumper reflectors and a marginally wider grille. And that’s almost it for the hatchback’s exterior. Oh, and on the top-of-the-range Monte Carlo model I piloted, 18-inch alloys are fitted as well as LED brake lights.
Hang on a minute, though – there’s a bit more. The fuel filler flap isn't the first area I usually check out when evaluating a car, but the Fabia's is worth scrutinising. Why? Well, the ice scraper that was squirrelled away inside it on the last model works as a tyre tread depth gauge, too. It also doubles as a magnifying glass, but it just made my eyes go all bleary looking through it.
Changes inside have been rationed. There are some different interior trims and colours, two more USB slots for back-seat passengers’ use and new graphics on the dials. It is a no-nonsense cabin, but that makes it bland, with abrasive plastics instead of the softer materials you get in its relative, the Volkswagen Polo. That said, it feels well nailed together, and the Skoda Fabia's 330-litre load capacity means it has one the biggest boots in the supermini segment.
Notably, the scrapping of Skoda’s old 1.4-litre diesel now makes the Fabia line-up a pure petrol one. All now contain 1.0-litre three-cylinder units in several states of tune, as well as an exhaust particulate filter to prune emissions.
As touched on, I was given the keys to the Monte Carlo. The 95PS powerplant comes with a five-speed manual ‘box which is nimble and easy-to-use. Mind you; I kept looking for a sixth cog, meaning I did crunch the gears a few times. Whoops, silly old me.
The 1.0-litre engine is calm, and the Monte Carlo’s harder springs and lower ride make things quite entertaining. Naturally, with an engine this diminutive you’re never going to set the blacktop ablaze, but you can still reach 62mph in 10.8 seconds and get to a maximum speed of 114mph.
More importantly, it’ll do more than 60mpg, making it a thrifty form of transport. It is such a painless supermini to control, and it's comfortable for four people - and noiseless, too.
Every fresh Fabia, apart from the rudimentary ‘S,’ has been cut down in price. The basic car is now roughly £600 more costly, but it does get enhanced kit; for example, a trip computer, a 6.5-inch touchscreen, autonomous emergency braking and LED daytime lights.
Other than the S, there’s the SE, Colour Edition, SE L, and Monte Carlo – all with a price drop of around £55 to £355. This is top value, particularly if you weigh up the Fabia against the Polo, which is about £1000 more with an equal engine and trim level.
Regrettably, if you like the sound of this motor, but you happen to be a hot-hatch buff, you will be left wanting. Skoda won't be producing a vRS version of this embodiment of the Fabia any time soon.
Car reviewed: Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo 1.0 TSI 95PS - On the road £16,785, car with options as tested £19,150 0-62mph 10.8 secs Top speed 114mph Fuel Economy combined 61.4mpg CO2 emissions 106g/km Engine 1.0 TSI 3-cylinder unleaded EU6 Max Power Engine 95PS@5000rpm Engine Torque 160Nm@1500rpm Transmission 5-speed manual
A very comfortable small-car
Efficient and easy to drive
Slightly plasticky interior
What the others say about the Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo on YouTube...
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