The smallest Skoda returns in fourth generation guise and this time it’s not only more grown up but it also looks sharp, a change from the three previous generations. It goes hard too in its initial high spec, sporty Monte Carlo format. A fab Fabia then?
Everyone has heard of Monte Carlo, one of the four traditional quarters of Monaco and famous for its casino. Literally it means Mount Charles, named after Charles III who was responsible for turning the area into a thriving town.
However, in relation to Skoda, it’s all about the Monte Carlo Rally. In 1977, the 130 RS coupe took out first and second places in the under-1300cc class. Now the name lives on in special sporting variants, and in this case the new fourth-generation Fabia. The Monte Carlo edition is the first model in the new fourth-generation line-up to launch here, replete with specification and costing $39,990.
While that represents a price rise of 33 per cent, this is a far cry from its third-generation forebear. The car itself is utilising a new platform, there’s a 1.5 turbopetrol under the hood (making it the most potent since the Fabia vRS of 2010) and a veritable wealth of specification, much of its sports oriented.
And there’s a bit of a bonus; because its 3P-WLTP rated combined fuel use figure is 5.4L/100km (CO2 of 125g/km) it is eligible for a rebate of $2181 ($37,807 all up).
There’s lots new about this too, not the least of which is styling. Fabia has never exactly set the world alight aesthetically but the latest model is vastly improved, with a silhouette that reminds somewhat of Polo, a model that’s about to exit New Zealand we hear. New Fabia is much more of a windswept shape which is reflected in a Cd of 0.28. Evidently there are myriad aero updates, not the least of which is a smooth underbody. This in part explains the decent overall fuel efficiency figure but that’s also the result of cylinder deactivation. While cruising down the motorway at 100km/h, the instantaneous fuel use figure dropped from 5 to around 4 as the engine went into its low-load fuel-saving mode. At times on hot mix it was hovering in the high twos and low threes.
The engine is well known in the VW Group family, the 1.5T good for 110kW and 250Nm, with strong drive right off the bottom (peak torque is on tap from 1500-3500rpm). That’s yet another reason this is so abstemious; petrol use is all about rpm – keep them low and the fuel use follows. Shift the seven-speed dual clutch transmission to its S setting and this will scuttle to 100km/h in a claimed 8.0sec on the way to a top of 225km/h, roughly three times the new maximum speed limits being proposed and introduced for thoroughfares north of Auckland. That’s all in the interests supposedly of saving lives but really it’s also to swell government coffers as revenue from petrol and diesel tax slows.
Anyhow, new fourth-gen Fabia is bigger than before, longer and wider, though its roofline is down by 8mm to give it more of a grounded look. Those new measurements also translate to more occupant and luggage space, legroom in the rear up by 13mm and hatch capacity swelling by 30L to 380 overall, amongst the most in its small car class.
The interior looks much flasher too. There are smart sports seats with racing stripes and adjustable lumbar support, carbon-look decor on the door cards, a new eight-inch colour touchscreen, red ambient lighting and red highlights on the dash, door handles and centre console.
Safety items are well catered for too. Included are new LED headlamps with auto high beam, adaptive cruise control and AEB, lane keeping, driver fatigue monitoring, and parking sensors at each end. No blind spot monitoring but that’s evidently coming. Because this is from Europe there are also heated mirrors and a toasty steering wheel.
Expect the usual Simply Clever items, like the umbrella in the driver’s door, lots of cubbies, novel storage solutions in the luggage area, five USB-C outlets scattered throughout the cabin, and wired smartphone integration.
Other items include sport suspension, a mild body kit with blackened highlights, 17-inch aero alloys, keyless locking and pushbutton start, tints for the rear windows, two-tone colour scheme (black roof), and a Qi charger.
We had a brief spin out of town, where the MC gets along rather well. The fixed suspension is not too sporty and ensures confident cornering dynamics on its 215/45R17 rubber. It goes hard too, with plenty of drive from low revs, the turbo effect apparent from below 2000rpm. It’s doing an easy 1800rpm in seventh at the maximum permissible motorway speed, partly explaining its low fuel use figures on the go.
So while this is now rather more expensive than before, bear in mind it is also the top offering in the new Fabia line-up and it may be that 1.0L Ambition models will follow in future, though this is yet to be confirmed. Whatever, those who might be heartbroken about the exit of Polo from our shores now have a worthy replacement that also has a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating and five-year/150,000km warranty.
Sounds FAB to us.