Monte Carlo is a name which has been used by a number of manufacturers to adorn their cars, I can think of Lancia and a few others and Skoda can be included in that list with models such as the Yeti and of course the Fabia.
Recently I had the opportunity to try the facelifted Fabia and I concentrated on the Monte Carlo, the most sporting member of the family.
The small hatchback has been one of the pillars of the Skoda brand since it first appeared in 1999 and down the years there have been new generation models, updates etc. However the profile of the Fabia has remained relatively unchanged and that for many is no bad thing.
With the 2018 model going forward into 2019, clearly the emphasis is very much on design and the focus is very much on retail sales with almost eighty percent in that direction. One of the most appealing factors regarding the Fabia is it appeals to a wide range of owners, making it the perfect choice for the younger driver or indeed a second car for the family. I must not forget to add that with the Fabia Skoda enjoyed success in rallying both at international and national level. The Monte Carlo for me is by far the most stylish, however to suit budget and taste there are other trim levels, S, SE, SEL and Colour Edition; depending, of course, on the market. Engine choice is restricted to petrol units, with zesty one litres in a range of power outputs, all of which have been re-worked. The entry level MPI produces 75PS, while the two TSI engines have turbo assistance and a choice 95PS or 110PS. One of my all time favourite transmissions is the DSG and the seven speeder was a key element of the Monte Carlo which I sampled. This transmission is widely used across the VAG Group and I first sampled it in the original Audi TT. The Monte Carlo takes to the tarmac with a host of new features, climate control air con, LED rear lights, rear electric windows etc, while in the styling department to further enhance the sporty nature of this Fabia, a black front spoiler, a contrasting black roof and a cool carbon-effect dashboard trim.Just like most modern car ranges there is the opportunity to create a very special Fabia with a collection of options which include the likes of, 18 inch alloys for the Monte Carlo, blind spot detection with traffic alert etc.
In performance terms, the Monte Carlo can be best described as brisk, rest to 100kph (62mph) comes up in 9.6 seconds and on to a top speed of 196kph (121mph). I know it is far from earth shattering, but with excellent handling the end result is a fun drive. With softer overall styling than earlier models you will not fail to recognise the new Fabia, slightly more than a facelift as you have the added bonus of more equipment which in turn delivers an overall better package. The emphasis is very much to the front end with a new grille with vertical slats, a black frame for the Monte Carlo, all other trims get a chrome frame. The new grille is wider and is flanked by new headlights with intricate detailing, perhaps a visual tribute to the Czech Republic’s cut glass crystal heritage. LED headlights (already noted) and the Monte Carlo gets rear ones and the rear of the Fabia is completed with a new bumper with integrated reflectors. Moving to the interior and the best to date from Skoda for their popular small hatchback.
For the first time in a Fabia, in my opinion, they have created a quality feel which was long overdue. Instrumentation is much clearer and the Monte Carlo and the SE L get illumination for the centre console unit. The Monte Carlo has carbon leather upholstered seats, centre console and front door sills with the appropriate logo. For entertainment on the move the newcomer has the Swing Plus system with a generous screen, Amundsen sat nav and it supports SmartLink+ technology, enabling the use of smartphone apps on the infotaiment system display. On the road, the ride is on the firm side. For such a small package, however, comfort levels are good. I found the Monte Carlo a fraction stiffer and forgive me for going back to the one litre engine which is widely used throughout the VAG Group it is currently the market leader in it class. Looking to next year and it promises to be a busy one for Skoda, between updates and new models, a total of five and the eagerly awaited small SUV, anyone who saw the vision X may have got a taste of what is to come. Another sector for Skoda in the ever expanding arena of SUVs and no doubt it will be a head turner offering value for money.