SKODA FABIA MONTE CARLO
It’s a baby hatch match, playing sportiness against cuteness. Then, says Craig Duff, weigh the tech tricks against the comforts
The Skoda comes standard with AEB that operates up to our highway limits, a sunroof, seven-speed dual-clutch auto and 17-inch alloys. Spend another $1800 for a Tech Pack and get adaptive cruise control, rain-sensing wipers, keyless entry/start, digital radio and dual-zone aircon. Satnav is a $950 option, otherwise use the Apple CarPlay or Android Auto to run maps off the mobile phone. Service intervals are 12 months/15,000km and an upfront $1149 covers the first three visits.
It’s hard to ignore the hard plastics in what is meant to be the flagship version but the multi-coloured seats and red-stitched steering wheel draw attention away from the austere elements. Black exterior highlights give it a sporty look and younger buyers will appreciate the multimedia set-up’s improved smartphone integration. Luggage space is 305L.
The 1.2-litre four-cylinder turbo (81kW/175Nm) provides more than adequate motivation, though there’s little point pushing to the rev limit. Claimed thirst is 4.8L/100km but it uses 95RON against regular unleaded in the Mazda, which will push up the weekly running costs.
The Fabia is a five-star/six airbag car backed by one of the better autonomous braking set-ups in this segment and it is standard across the range. The only disappointment is a relatively low frontal crash score of 13.68 out of 16 (the Mazda scored 15.69). If the driver and/or AEB do their job, that shouldn’t be an issue.
The Fabia hoses the 2 in a straight line but isn’t quite as convincing through a series of turns. Given the remit of these cars, few people will notice the handling differences but they will appreciate the Skoda’s extra urge.