- Max Speed
What is it?
This is the new top spec version of the Skoda Fabia, the Monte Carlo trim that is by now familiar to Skoda fans. It wants to call to your mind the glamour of the Monte Carlo Rally, an event that Skoda finished second at back in 1936. Bodes well. Inexplicably it does that through some subtle bodykit upgrades (new skirts and a spoiler), black roof and pillars and some black and red accents around the cabin. Oh, and a new engine.
That’s great, but when’s the vRS coming?
Are you sitting down? We've something to tell you… there isn’t going to be a vRS version of this Fabia. Although the Enyaq Coupe has at least proven that the Czech carmaker will knock out a go-faster version of one of its electric cars, even if it’s not that brilliant.
No one really buys the vRS, you see, although the UK is the most popular market for it. Plus it’s not brilliant for a company’s emissions when everyone’s so focused on corporate average CO2 numbers.
Pah. But the Monte must get some decent upgrades then?
Well no, that little list up there really is it. The spec is OK, but not startling for a top-spec trim. As well as the neat little interior highlights you get keyless starting, fancy 17in alloys, dual-zone aircon, digital instrument panel and front sports seats. These are quite chunky, too, worth taking a poke around the car if you’re thinking about the Monte and have to carry passengers regularly.
What engines are available?
The 108bhp 1.0-litre 3cyl petrol from the rest of the Fabia range is available here with either a six-speed manual box or a seven-speed DSG – which we quite like – or you can go for a 148bhp 1.5-litre 4cyl unit with seven-speed DSG automatic.
Seeing as this is the only version of the Fabia you can get the 1.5 shoved inside it seems churlish not to go for it here. It’s got cylinder deactivation to save petrol when you’re not gunning it about the place, so that’s nice.
We've been running a Colour Edition Fabia with the 1.0 engine as a long-termer recently and it's a very decent package.
Does the 1.5 drive well?
The acceleration is a welcome improvement; there’s extra pull across the range, although the car feels a little awkward off the line as it tries to scamper off. Takes a bit of practice to get a smooth departure that doesn’t look to everyone around you like you’re taking the traffic light grand prix a little too seriously.
On a pleasant country road the Fabia acquits itself decently enough without being the sort of car you’d get up early to go and drive the long way round in. Those 17in alloys firm up the ride a smidge (you can also upgrade to 18s if your back is feeling too healthy), but they’re probably the most interesting thing about the Monte Carlo. There’s still too much bounce in the suspension for you to take the car seriously as a hot hatch, mind.
Likewise Sport mode is good for hustling the car along but it hangs onto gears a trifle too long when you come off the gas. A shame then that there aren’t paddles for changing gear yourself.
Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter. Look out for your regular round-up of news, reviews and offers in your inbox.
Get all the latest news, reviews and exclusives, direct to your inbox.
How much will it cost?
The Monte Carlo will start at £20,935 for the manual 1.0 with an extra £1k asked for the DSG auto. Go for the spicier 1.5 with DSG and you’re looking at £23,735. The former offers 54.3mpg and 0–62mph in 10 seconds flat, while the 1.5 drops to 49.6mpg and 0–62mph in eight seconds. Definitely a punchy move, asking for nearly £3k for the bigger engine, but just think how much time you’ll save in acceleration alone.
The equipment list on the Monte Carlo is a bit of a sour note: the top spec version of the car and it doesn’t come with cruise control, satnav, heated seats/wheel/windscreen or keyless entry. Those are all available in option packs that cost extra, before you start to think about anything like fancier LED lights, wireless phone charging or the crazy accoutrements that Skoda has designed for the boot, like a little hammock that’ll hold your shopping.
Should I buy one?
If you do a lot of miles and you want the extra punch then the Monte Carlo-spec Fabia with 1.5-litre engine is a solid option to go for. In fact, the Fabia is such a solid all-rounder that we’d probably recommend for people looking at some of the firm’s bigger cars to take a peek at the Fabia instead.
If you’ve already got your eye on a Fabia then best save your money and go for the 108bhp 1.0-litre engine (not the wheezy 94bhp one) in a lesser spec with some cash spare to buy yourself some essential extras.