Odds-on favourite

It may be small but it packs a lot of style. Matt Kim­ber­ley tries the lat­est Fabia to wear the Monte Carlo badge

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Kent Motors -

The first Fabia Monte Carlo was re­leased in 2011 as a spe­cial edi­tion to cel­e­brate the brand’s rally her­itage, but it was such a rag­ing suc­cess that they kept the idea go­ing.

The new Fabia has been given the Monte Carlo treat­ment with black wheels and bodywork de­tail­ing, sports seats and the now-fa­mil­iar spe­cial badges you’ll see dot­ted around it.

Looks and im­age

One of the key rea­sons (prob­a­bly THE key rea­son) the Monte Carlo was such a hit is that it com­bined the fru­gal­ity of small en­gines with even more vis­ual im­pact than even the brisk vRS model of­fered. It be­came a thing in its own right, known among own­ers as some­thing a bit cooler than the stan­dard Fabia. They have a point. With red trim, proper side bol­sters on the front seats and a black roof com­plete with panoramic glass the Monte Carlo re­ally looks the busi­ness.

Be­hind the wheel

The steer­ing is a real sur­prise. It trans­mits gen­uine feel and feed­back from the road’s sur­face, prov­ing that it can be done with elec­tric set-ups where so many en­gi­neers fail. The rack is quick enough to have the front end dart­ing into turns like an ea­ger puppy and thanks to those tyres it grips like the fig­u­ra­tive limpet. Few su­per­mi­nis have such a light front end or show so much en­thu­si­asm for cor­ners.

Value for money

The spec­i­fi­ca­tion in this model is loosely based on SE L level, with ad­di­tions like the sun­roof and spe­cial black bits. An equiv­a­lent, but rather nor­mal­look­ing, Fabia SE L is more than £1,000 cheaper al­ready, and the test car has £500 worth of nav­i­ga­tion soft­ware, £180 heated front seats and £140 in Sim­ply Clever pack­ages added. It’s enough of a price gap to leave it down to the in­di­vid­ual as to whether they think it’s worth it. As for fuel econ­omy, the test car only had 1,500 miles un­der its belt and may need to loosen up a bit, but even when try­ing I couldn’t even get close to the of­fi­cial 60mpg av­er­age. Ex­pect mid-40s.

Who would buy one?

At its best the Monte Carlo is a smart-look­ing and func­tional su­per­mini with lots of prac­ti­cal touches and enough style to cut it on the high street. It’s a good se­cond car for a fam­ily that al­ready has an es­tate or MPV on the drive.

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