The Full Monte – 2022 Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo first drive

With three generations and over twenty years of impressive sales to draw on, the release of the new fourth-generation Skoda Fabia ‘Monte Carlo’ was always going to be an exciting prospect. Well yesterday, thanks to Skoda New Zealand we got our first look and drive at it, and it’s the full monty. 

2022 Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo review NZ

Not to be confused with the risque movie of ‘97, the new Skoda Fabia ‘Monte Carlo’ has been rebuilt from the ground up, it’s bigger, more stylish and has been showered with driver and safety treats, like I said, it’s now the full monty.

2022 Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo review NZ

The Fabia Monte Carlo has its roots and heritage firmly ensconced in the Rally of the same name, however, despite have a 15L TSI engine that boasts 110kW and 250Nm (rather a lot for such a compatch hatch), it’s power and appearance is more refined than its gravel-grabbing moniker would suggest – but I’ll get to that later.

2022 Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo review NZ

Sitting on the new MQB-AO platform, the new Fabia is longer and wider than before and although a little bit lower, offers more shoulder and head room than ever before.

The nose comes with Skoda’s latest design language with a blacked out grille, active cooling shutters, lower air curtains and LED lights. It’s an attractive face that has youthful appeal. The profile offers up strong character lines with a triangular nod towards the Czech flag, powered folding mirrors and the choice of 17 or 18-inch wheels (the former having removable aerodynamic inserts), while the rear comes with a roofline spoiler with finlets, tail lights that now extend into the tailgate and a classy amount of contrasting black trim.

2022 Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo review NZ

Thanks to the new shape, aero cues and covered underbody, the new Fabia Monte Carlo boasts a 0.28cd drag-coefficient and when added to a EU 6d drivetrain that claims 5.4L/100km and 125g/Km you can actually claim a clean car rebate – not bad for an ICE.

2022 Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo review NZ

The Interior has been overhauled completely with a new design concept. A dramatic horizontal red line flows across the dash horizon (with a carbon effect below), there are red accents plus the ambient lighting is red. The red door handles have a sporty grip design to them, the sports seats have Monte Carlo specific upholstery and there’s a raft of cubby holes and storage not usually seen in a vehicle in this segment for example, luggage space goes from 380L-1190L!

2022 Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo review NZ

The technology is delivered via an 8-inch Balero touchscreen (which can be upgraded to a Amundsen 9.2-inch) and the ‘Fabia embossed’ analogue instrument cluster, with a 3.5-inch TFT can also be upgraded to a virtual cockpit, however both ‘the basics’ are more than sufficiently clear and simple to use.

2022 Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo review NZ

Not only does it now have a heated steering wheel, but safety/driving aids have been improved too with Adaptive Cruise Control, Front and Lane Assist, Auto high beam, Manoeuvre assist and of course a very sharp reversing camera.

Skoda’s ‘Simply Clever’ is there in abundance too, with wireless charging, an umbrella in the door, an Ice scraper/magnifier, pen holder, waste bin in the door, cargo nets, bottle holders in the rear, a reversible mat, 4 x USB-C outlets and washer fluid funnel – there’s more on the list.

2022 Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo review NZ

With the classwork over, we were given a couple of hours to get to know the new Fabia Monte Carlo better, a ‘go where you please’ drive that we decided would be best spent finding some very twisty roads – we already assumed it would be great in the city.

2022 Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo review NZ

We grabbed the Phoenix Orange model (one of two new colours – Graphite Grey being the other) and headed North West. First impressions are good, the seating position is really comfortable and the cabin is very quiet on the road, even on the 17’s – just a hint of wind noise. Visibility all round is good too and I didn’t notice the lack of blind spot alert.

2022 Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo review NZ

The engine gets up to 100km/h quickly (8-seconds) and doesn’t seem at all strained under heavy acceleration – although the DSG gearbox does seem to hold gears for a little bit long I noticed.

2022 Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo review NZ

Into the country and the compact hatch comes alive. It’s not an RS in terms of sportiness, (like I said, it’s more refined than that) but Sports mode and Sports gearing makes the Monte Carlo playful and fun in the corners.

Overall, the suspension is firm, which to me makes for a confident drive although the nose is a little soft should you be driving into corners like you shouldn’t. I will add one thing, the driving mode button is hidden behind the new gear lever, handy for your co-pilot but out of sight for the driver.

2022 Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo review NZ

The new Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo may have a little bit of a bigger footprint, but it’s still a compact hatch that’s easy to handle and great to drive. It’s a vast improvement from before and although the price tag has grown too, Skoda has crammed a lot of extra features into this confident townie, it’s got a hefty amount of go, it’s ultra efficient and oozes clever tech. Looking forward to a follow up review.

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