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2023 ŠKODA Fabia review (Monte Carlo Edition 150)

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Who really wants big and bulky in the city? We put the Fabia Monte Carlo Edition to the test.

Monte Carlo, Monaco. The home of playboys, titans and oligarchs.

Where the cars have 6-figure price tags, the house always wins and the F1 lands once a year.

The F1 race in Monaco is a funny one, though.

The who's who of the world is there, lining the harbour with their yachts. Flying in on their helicopters. Partying like no tomorrow.

There is a lot of excitement around it.

And yet, not much happens. The streets of Monaco are so narrow. It is difficult to overtake and that results in lap after lap of fast-paced follow the leader.

Opportunities come at the expense of panels, wheels and championship points. It is often a mistake due to the narrowness of the track that causes positional change.

3-time F1 champion Nelson Piquet once noted: "Driving in Monte Carlo is like riding a bike in your house".

And yet there are streams of Bugattis, Ferraris and every other eye-wateringly expensive super car navigating the Monaco streets, each vehicle wider than the last.

Sure they're flashy, but you cannot drive them as they were designed to be driven. Instead you spend half an hour at a time doing 10-point turns.

So, if you spent a meaningful amount of time in Monaco (or any other city), you might want this ŠKODA Fabia instead.

What is new about it?

The new Monte Carlo Edition is the only 2023 Fabia trim landing in Australia. It gets an upgraded front bumper and new LED headlights, as well as a new rear bumper, interior trim and safety features.

It sports a new higher price too, but it's not as bad as you might fear, with ŠKODA also padding out the standard feature list.

The Monte Carlo Edition comes in at $37,990, which is $8,500 more expensive than its predecessor.

If you look at competitor prices, you will find this is about middle of the road. With the new features offering an estimated $15,200 of added value, the ŠKODA arguably offers up good value for consumers searching in this price bracket.

What's the 2023 ŠKODA Fabia like to drive?

In the city, you need something that is small and compact, with a small turning circle to make U-turns and small carparks easier.

The Fabia has a fairly tight 10.7-inch turning circle, which means you should be able to make most manoeuvres in one turn. It is roughly in line with popular competitors (and much smaller than that multimillion-dollar Bugatti).

That also means that it is easy to park. As well, you get a range of sensors and a parking camera. If you still aren't confident, you can option Park Assist for $1,000.

Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo Edition 150

You're also going to want something that rides comfortably, because inevitably, if you are in Sydney at least, you're going to be driving on some rough roads during your daily commute. There aren't many places that are safe from potholes anymore.

The sport suspension on the 2023 Fabia gives you a good compromise between the comfort you want day-to-day and the agile, sporty feeling that the vehicle deserves.

Another consideration for a city vehicle is how frugal it is to run, especially with currently high petrol prices. At 4.9 litres per 100km, the fuel consumption stacks up nicely against the reported figures for the Mazda 3, i30 and even the Mini Cooper Classic. Another tick for the Fabia.

In terms of power, despite not being a hot hatch, there is still enough there to make the car fun. You're able to drive it closer to its limits when you want to.

Power comes from a 1.5-litre, 4-pot turbo-charged engine that produces 110kW or 150 horsepower (hence the name Monte Carlo 150) and 250Nm of torque.

It is a willing powerplant and despite what might be considered humble outputs, it won't be found wanting around town or out on the open road. The 7-speed DSG gearbox does a great job of choosing gears and keeping you where the power is when required.

Adaptive cruise control (ACC) is also standard on the 2023 Fabia. Whenever I am doing any sort of highway driving, ACC is always my go-to. Thankfully the ŠKODA ACC system is easy to set up and use and helped me stay out of trouble with the law. It produces accurate readings and doesn't offer too much leeway to exceed the desired speed.

Other safety features you will find handy when living with the Fabia are the automatic windscreen wipers, blind spot monitors and the Bi-LED headlights that adapt where they point based on steering input.

The Fabia does miss out on traffic sign recognition which is standard on many of its direct competitors. While in the grand scheme of things it is a small omission, it is a feature that I find handy to check on from time to time.

What's it like inside?

There is a real sporty feel about the inside of the Fabia Monte Carlo Edition.

The model we were testing had metallic red inserts across the dash and door handles as well as gloss black trim around the air conditioning vents.

I have no idea why, but I felt like it could be used in the next Italian Job.

There is a new 9.2-inch Admunsen touchscreen infotainment system that sits front and centre on the dashboard. It comes standard with satellite navigation, DAB+, voice control and ŠKODA's SmartLink, which adds wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Just like the 2023 ŠKODA Karoq we reviewed recently, the system itself is quite easy to use, with most things only a few taps away. Out of habit we found ourselves using Android Auto. It is linked up to a 6-speaker sound system.

2023 Skoda Fabia Interior

Below that is your dual-zone climate control system and a wireless charging bay for your phone. Throughout the cabin there are 4 USB-C charging points so you should never run out of charge on any device.

There is also a new 10.25-inch virtual cockpit digital display that sits behind the steering wheel.

You're able to customise the display to virtually any information you want, and it is effortless to change on the go with the steering wheel controls.

What a wheel it is too, a combination of leather and perforated leather that felt like the perfect size and chunkiness.

Fabia branding has been added tastefully too. I was particularly a fan of the branding around the digital cockpit drivers display.

There's sport comfort seating which comes in a cloth trim. The seats are comfortable and have a good amount of bolstering for when you are turning in through corners or travelling winding roads. And for cold winter mornings, like those we experienced in the Blue Mountains at the launch of the 2023 Fabia Monte Carlo Edition, the front seats are heated.

It is missing a head-up display that select competitors do have fitted as standard, but to be fair we have been driving without those for some time and they are only really handy when you aren't wearing sunglasses.

As you would expect, the back seats are a bit tight for taller humans but there are 3 top-tether points for child seats and ISOFIX anchor points on the 2 outboard seats. Another nice inclusion that is often skipped on a hatchback of this size is air conditioning vents for rear passengers.

In the back and throughout the cabin there is a decent amount of storage including the door bins front and back.

Other nice little features around the cabin that you might not even think you need include removable bins for rubbish and an umbrella holder in the door.

How big is the 2023 ŠKODA Fabia boot?

With the rear seats in place, the 2023 Fabia Monte Carlo edition has 380 litres of space and with them folded down, that expands to 1,190 litres of space.

While these numbers are slightly low compared to competitors such as the Hyundai i30 which has space for 395 litres with the rear seats up, the Fabia has almost 100 litres more space than the Mazda 3 hatch.

Under the boot floor you will find a space-saving spare tyre.

2023 Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo Edition 150

How safe is the ŠKODA Fabia?

Along with 6 airbags throughout the cabin, the 2023 ŠKODA Fabia Monte Carlo Edition comes with a range of safety features and technology.

As standard on the 2023 Fabia you get:

  • Autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection
  • Multi-collision brake
  • Rain brake support
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Driver fatigue protection
  • Lane assist
  • Manoeuvre braking assist front and rear
  • Blind spot detection
  • Rear cross traffic alert
  • Tyre pressure monitoring
  • Rain sensing wipers

Ownership

When buying a new 2023 Fabia you have the choice to purchase a 7- or 5-year service pack. The 7-year pack costs $2,100 and includes:

  • First 7 scheduled services
  • Free roadside assistance

The 5-year pack includes:

  • First 5 scheduled services
  • Free roadside assistance

You could also opt for a service and maintenance subscription. The first option is the "value" plan which costs $39 a month and includes scheduled servicing every 15,000km and roadside assistance.

The second option is the "essential" plan for $34.50 per month which includes the above plus some wear and tear items like brake pads and discs, wiper blades, engine oil top-ups and battery replacements in both the engine and keys.

Step up to the "complete" package and you get all of the above plus tyres and wheel alignment.

2023 Skoda Fabia wheels

2023 ŠKODA Fabia launch verdict

While a price increase of $8,500 is significant, it is great to see when a brand has justified the increase. With $15,200 in added extras that leaves you with around $6,700 in extra value. Not bad for a European brand.

Price aside though, the Fabia makes for an awesome run-around vehicle. It is easy to drive and park, while having enough about it to be an engaging drive when you want to be a bit more enthusiastic.

While our time was somewhat limited with the Fabia, we were also impressed by the build quality in both the Karoq and this Monte Carlo 150 edition. Stay tuned for an extended review in the near future.

Make sure to check out our other hatchback reviews. You might also be surprised to see what you can save by comparing car loans and car insurance while you're here.

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