Skoda has decided to go all-in at the premium end of the Light Car market with the all-new $38,000 Fabia Monte Carlo. Is this compact hatchback’s charm worth the cost?
- Big boot for the car’s size
- Premium interior vibe
- Torquey and economical powertrain
- Steep price for a Light Car
- Subscription servicing is costly
- Firm ride not to all tastes
How much does the Skoda Fabia cost in Australia?
Skoda’s brand awareness may not be the equal of Toyota and Mazda in Australia, but that hasn’t stopped this David from the Czech Republic from taking on Japanese and Korean Goliaths in the Light Car and Small Car segments.
Toyota, Hyundai and Mazda dominate sales of smaller passenger cars, but Skoda is not interested in playing at the cheaper end of the market. Instead, the 2022 Skoda Fabia five-door hatchback range has been pared back from two variants to one and loaded it to the hilt, with Skoda claiming that Australian buyers weren’t that interested in the cheaper model.
Skoda says Fabia buyers want one with all the fruit, and presumably that’s reflected in their sales figures. But maybe it’s also a reflection of the stiff competition at the lower end of the market.
Either way, this all-new fourth-generation Skoda Fabia is available in one spec level only, the Monte Carlo, priced at $37,990 drive-away.
For the money, buyers get a compact five-door hatchback built on a version of the Volkswagen Group’s ubiquitous MQB platform (the light car MQB-A0 chassis) with loads of room inside and powered by an economical and energetic 110kW/250Nm 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine driving the front wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.
The Fabia’s sporty new body is 4108mm long, 1780mm wide and 1459mm high, making it 116mm longer and 48mm wider than before. Compared to a Mazda 2 five-door hatchback, the Skoda is slightly longer (+43mm) and wider (+85mm) but not as tall (-36mm).
So, on measurements alone, the 2022 Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo is a size-appropriate rival for the Mazda 2 and other Light Cars like the Toyota Yaris and Volkswagen Polo. But the almost $40K price of this new car – which is well beyond the top end of the Mazda 2 and Toyota Yaris ranges – means some shoppers will compare it with the physically bigger and more powerful Hyundai i30, Mazda 3 and Toyota Corolla.
The MY22 Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo’s price is $8500 higher than the outgoing Fabia, but Skoda says the new Fabia carries more than $15,000 in additional equipment, which equates to $6700 better value if you believe its claim.
Let’s take a closer look.
How much space does the Skoda Fabia have inside?
On first acquaintance, the Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo’s cabin looks premium and classy, which is befitting of a compact car demanding $38,000 to park in your driveway. Let’s call it a European sporty vibe with personality and flair.
The combination across the dashboard of a red metallic horizontal flourish, combined with soft-touch carbon fibre-look material and leather with white stitching sets a high visual benchmark that the rest of the cabin matches.
The front seats are cloth rather than leather, but they look good thanks to white perimeter stitching and a five-stroke vertical colour pattern. They’re also soft and supportive and have good side bolstering.
The colour scheme and clever use of materials continue across the doors – disguising the hard plastic used on door uppers – and into the back seat.
The front seats are manually adjustable, not electric. The driving position is faultless and flexible enough to accommodate a range of driver sizes. The leather steering wheel adjusts through a decent range for height and reach.
All-around visibility is good and chunky A-pillars on either side of the windscreen don’t cause much of a vision issue.
The test car we drove had bottle holders in the doors but no cupholders up front. Skoda said that’s a production anomaly that will be rectified in due course.
The Fabia Monte Carlo has dual-zone climate control with rear air vents (a rarity in the class), LED ambient lighting, and keyless entry and start.
The back seat is cosy but comfortable for adults of average height. There’s good underseat foot room, good knee room and plenty of headroom. The seatback is angled for comfort, but there’s no central armrest. Our test car had an optional bin stuck on the hump in the floor between the centre passenger’s legs.
The hatch opens manually to reveal a decent cargo space for such a small car, and a number of clever cargo-securing solutions. Firstly, it has 380L of storage with the back seats set up (VDA) and the floor at its lowest setting, expanding to 1190L with the seats folded (60/40).
For comparison, the Mazda 2’s boot is 250L with seats in place.
Skoda’s range of ‘simply clever’ fixtures can be found scattered throughout the cabin, with boot storage nets and a dual-sided boot mat, door panel rubbish bin, windscreen ticket holder and an umbrella stashed in the driver’s door all included as standard.
|2022 Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo 110TSI|
|Boot volume||380L seats up
1190L seats folded
Does the Skoda Fabia have Apple CarPlay?
The quality of the Skoda Fabia’s screens – the 10.25-inch instrument binnacle and the centrally mounted 9.2-inch multimedia display – is top-notch, both in size and graphics quality. The multimedia screen’s whipcracking response time to touches is also to be commended, as is its predictive nature that pops up extra buttons as your finger nears. That’s common on many Volkswagen Group vehicles.
Satellite navigation is standard as is digital radio, wireless smartphone mirroring (Android Auto and Apple CarPlay) and voice control.
The Fabia Monte Carlo comes with a charging mat for smartphones ahead of the transmission lever.
There are two USB-C charging ports in the front as well as a 12-volt plug, and two more USB-C ports for rear-seat occupants.
Is the Skoda Fabia a safe car?
The 2022 Skoda Fabia is rated as a five-star car by ANCAP with scores of 85 per cent for adult occupant protection, 81 per cent for child occupant protection, 70 per cent for vulnerable road user protection, and 71 per cent for safety assist systems.
The Fabia does not have a centre front airbag or knee airbag.
The Fabia’s standard active safety offering includes autonomous emergency braking (city, pedestrian and cyclist), adaptive cruise control, lane assist, blind-spot detection, rear traffic alert and manoeuvre braking assist (below 8km/h).
Park assist was fitted to our test car but costs an extra $1000.
The Fabia does not have speed sign recognition or blind-spot active assist, and its AEB system does not work in reverse or at road junctions when turning across oncoming traffic.
The Fabia does have a reversing camera and has parking sensors front and rear. It also has rain-sensing wipers and dusk-sensing headlights.
How much does the Skoda Fabia cost to maintain?
All Skoda models are covered by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.
Skoda offers two servicing packages for the Fabia: five years for $1500 and seven years for $2100.
Skoda has attempted to alleviate annual servicing bill shock with a new monthly subscription-based alternative. These subscription plans vary based on vehicle usage (annual distance driven, for example), but to give you an idea, there are three tiers priced around $34.50, $39 and $49.50 per month respectively if you do 15,000km per year.
After three years the prices of all plans double.
The cheapest subscription tier (Value) covers scheduled servicing, a courtesy loan vehicle and roadside assist. It does not cover perishables replacement. For that, you’ll need to step up to the Essential plan.
The top cover Complete plan includes new tyres when required.
None of the plans cover damage caused by the owner.
Based on those numbers, the middle-tier Essential plan will cost owners $1404 for the first three years, rising to $3276 for five years and $5148 over seven years, which is quite a bit more than the Servicing Packs, which are priced at $1500 over five years, or $2100 over seven years.
As far as comprehensive insurance premiums go, the Skoda Fabia quote comes in at $1156, which is almost $200 more than an equivalently priced Mazda 3 G25 GT hatchback ($978). Insurance estimates are based on a comparative quote for a 35 year old male driver, living in Chatswood, NSW. Insurance estimates may vary based on your location, driving history, and personal circumstances.
|At a glance||2022 Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo 110TSI|
|Warranty||Five years, unlimited km|
|Service intervals||12 months or 15,000km|
|Servicing costs||$1500 (5 years)
$2100 (7 years)
Is the Skoda Fabia fuel-efficient?
In terms of fuel consumption, Skoda claims the Fabia will consume 6.3L/100km around town, dropping to 4.1L/100km on the open road. The combined claim is 4.9L/100km. During our 150km test drive we averaged 5.3L/100km, which is close enough for us. Bear in mind that the Fabia’s 1.5-litre turbocharged engine demands more expensive 95RON premium unleaded petrol.
|Fuel Useage||Fuel Stats|
|Fuel cons. (claimed)||4.9L/100km|
|Fuel cons. (on test)||5.3L/100km|
|Fuel type||95-octane premium unleaded|
|Fuel tank size||40L|
What is the Skoda Fabia like to drive?
The previous-generation Skoda Fabia range was powered by an 81kW 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine paired with a seven-speed double-clutch automatic transmission. This diminutive drivetrain endowed the then 1097kg hatchback with middling acceleration – 0–100km/h in 10.1 seconds – that never really showed what the chassis could do.
All of that has been upgraded or improved, including the chassis, elevating the Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo’s dynamic capabilities nicely. This is not a hot hatch, but it does now possess the verve and punch to feel more exciting than the dynamically mundane model it replaces.
That’s despite a relatively hefty tare weight increase of 173kg to 1270kg, but this doesn’t affect performance or fuel economy, surprisingly. The new Fabia’s power-to-weight ratio is 87kW/tonne (13kW up) and its fuel economy rating is an impressive 4.9L/100km (claimed) on a city/highway combined-usage cycle.
More performance and great economy; what’s not to like?
The ride has been ‘sportified’, if that’s an actual word. It’s firmer than before, which makes the Fabia more agile in corners, but comes at a cost to comfort. That’s not to say it’s an uncomfortable car to drive because it’s not, it’s just that you feel all the dips and bumps passing under the car, and bigger hits like road joins and worn tarmac can thump through.
The Fabia Monte Carlo’s four driving modes – Eco, Normal, Sport, Individual – do nothing to soften the ride. Instead they allow the driver to adjust drivetrain sensitivity to prioritise either economy or responsiveness.
Tyre noise is also evident from the Continental Conti Sport Contact 215/40 R18 tyres fitted to our test car.
|Key details||2022 Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo 110TSI|
|Engine||1.5-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol|
|Power||110kW @ 6000rpm|
|Torque||250Nm @ 1500–3500rpm|
|Drive type||Front-wheel drive|
|Transmission||Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic|
|Power to weight ratio||87kW/t|
|Spare tyre type||Space-saver|
Should I buy a Skoda Fabia?
If you want a sub-$40K small hatchback alternative to the masses that is well equipped, drives well and has good safety credentials, then look no further.
The Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo top-spec-fits-all approach won’t suit everyone, which is why its sales rate is a drop in the ocean compared to the main players from Toyota, Hyundai and Mazda.
But if fully equipped, different and European are what you’re after, then the Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo is well worth a look.