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Skoda Fabia 2023 review

EXPERT RATING
7.8
The Skoda Fabia might be a much pricier proposition than it used to be, but does the feature-packed runabout offer more bang-for-your-buck than premium light cars?

How much does size matter to you? Do you think price should be relative to the size of a vehicle? Or do you think it's more about quality, performance and features?

There are plenty of people that think price should equate to how much metal you get, and they will, quite rightly, be shocked by the price of the new-generation Skoda Fabia hatch.

But if you've previously considered an entry-level light or small car from a premium brand, but perhaps been underwhelmed by the standard equipment list, then the new Fabia could be the answer.

For its fourth-generation, the Fabia has matured considerably, growing in size and carrying a more adult, premium look.

For now, you can only get the Fabia in one flavour, but that will likely change. Because as it stands, the former Euro city runabout remains out of reach for many buyers looking for a fun and affordable light car.

Has Skoda made a mistake positioning the Fabia as a semi-premium offering, or is it just the latest signal of a shift upmarket for the formerly cheap and quirky Czech brand?

Skoda Fabia 2023: 110TSI Monte Carlo Edition 150
Safety rating
Engine Type1.5L turbo
Fuel Type
Fuel Efficiency4.9L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$33,770

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   6/10

It's a good thing the new Fabia is packed with standard gear, because the price for the single-grade 110TSI Monte Carlo flagship is… $37,990 drive-away. That's a lot of dollars for a light hatchback.

Skoda Australia says that is approximately $8000 more expensive than the previous-generation Fabia Monte Carlo 70TSI. The company also says the new Fabia has more than $15,000 worth of additional equipment compared with its predecessor. And taking into account the price, that means there is $6700 worth of value gained.

Skoda is launching with the top-spec model because it believes it is more appealing to buyers and will get more attention than an entry-grade model. But, while Skoda Australia hasn't confirmed it yet, you can bet that there will be a more affordable model grade coming soon.

The Monte Carlo comes with 18-inch black metallic brushed alloy wheels. The Monte Carlo comes with 18-inch black metallic brushed alloy wheels.

Unfortunately, there is no sign of the super practical wagon body style for this generation of Fabia.

Being a Monte Carlo, it comes with a sporty body kit and interior, and it gains a punchy 110kW turbocharged petrol engine. Any additional Fabia grades are likely to get the 1.0-litre 80TSI engine.

What else do you get for your $38k?

It has a 10.25-inch fully digital instrument cluster. It has a 10.25-inch fully digital instrument cluster.

The Fabia Monte Carlo comes with heated front seats, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, power folding and heated exterior mirrors, dual-zone air conditioning, keyless entry and start, wireless device charging, a 10.25-inch fully digital instrument cluster, a 9.2-inch multimedia screen with digital radio, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, voice control, and a six-speaker audio system.

And there's more standard safety gear, too - see the section below.

There's no question the Fabia is packed with standard gear. In fact, it's a challenge to find another light hatch as well equipped.

The sizeable 9.2-inch multimedia touchscreen uses capacitive touch and is relatively simple to navigate. The sizeable 9.2-inch multimedia touchscreen uses capacitive touch and is relatively simple to navigate.

But that price is also a stretch when you consider some of its high quality rivals like the Mazda2 GT, from $26,490 before on-road costs, the flagship Toyota Yaris ZR Hybrid from $32,200 (which is jam-packed with safety gear), and even the mechanically related Volkswagen Polo Style from $31,250.

The Fabia price is only $1000 cheaper than the Volkswagen Polo GTI - but that's a dedicated hot hatch.

If you're badge focused, you can get into a premium light hatch for less money than the Fabia. For example, an Audi A1 (from $33,800 before on-road costs) or a Mini Cooper five-door Hatch (from $38,500), although they don't have the same level of standard gear as the Fabia.

The Fabia comes with a number of Skoda touches - hello, umbrella in the door. The Fabia comes with a number of Skoda touches - hello, umbrella in the door.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   8/10

There was something a bit odd and left of centre about the previous Fabia's design. It was tall and not particularly sleek, but it was still super appealing.

For the new generation, the Fabia has matured into a modern, handsome, even sleek European hatchback.

Being a Monte Carlo it gets a sporty body kit with gloss black highlights on the grille, front and rear bumper, the mirror caps and on the two-tone roof.

  • The new-gen Fabia’s design is much more mature than the model it replaces. The new-gen Fabia’s design is much more mature than the model it replaces.
  • For the new generation, the Fabia has matured into a modern, handsome, even sleek European hatchback. For the new generation, the Fabia has matured into a modern, handsome, even sleek European hatchback.
  • It gets a sporty body kit with gloss black highlights on the grille, front and rear bumper, the mirror caps and on the two-tone roof. It gets a sporty body kit with gloss black highlights on the grille, front and rear bumper, the mirror caps and on the two-tone roof.
  • The bi-LED headlights and sharp-looking LED tail-lights elevate the Fabia in Monte Carlo guise. The bi-LED headlights and sharp-looking LED tail-lights elevate the Fabia in Monte Carlo guise.

The bi-LED headlights, sharp-looking LED tail-lights and 18-inch black metallic brushed alloy wheels elevate the Fabia in Monte Carlo guise to one of the sexiest models in the segment.

That sporty look continues inside with Monte Carlo flourishes throughout. It gets a three-spoke flat-bottom leather sports steering wheel, red inserts on everything from the dash, doors, centre console and even the seats as part of a five-stripe motif, and aluminium finish pedals and carbon-fibre look inserts.

That splash of red, as well as the Fabia's dash and interior layout work well, although it's not as clean a design as the Polo. But it's hard to fault.

That sporty look continues inside with Monte Carlo flourishes throughout. That sporty look continues inside with Monte Carlo flourishes throughout.

How practical is the space inside?   8/10

The new-gen Fabia shares a vehicle platform with its Volkswagen Polo cousin and has grown in every dimension except height over the previous model.

Up front, you get a great driving position and feel lower to the ground, helping the connection with the road.

There's decent head and shoulder room in the front row, and those sports seats offer significant lateral support, almost hugging your torso. They are comfortable and the cloth trim gets a big tick from me.

It comes with red inserts on everything from the dash, doors, centre console and even the seats as part of a five-stripe motif. It comes with red inserts on everything from the dash, doors, centre console and even the seats as part of a five-stripe motif.

The dash design and layout is bordering on busy but all controls are easy to identify. I will never understand why some carmakers insist on using a steering wheel stalk for the cruise control when it is much easier to operate from the steering wheel itself. Make it happen please, Skoda!

The sizeable 9.2-inch multimedia touchscreen uses capacitive touch and is relatively simple to navigate.

The Fabia has two USB-C ports up front and a 12-volt charge point in the central storage bin.

Speaking of, the central compartment is average in size but will fit a phone or two. For the moment, there is no removable front cupholder in the Fabia, but it is offered as an accessory. Skoda Australia said it was due to a mistake in ordering and that it will be fitted as standard in Fabias built from October onwards.

The chunky sports seats seem to eat into rear seat legroom. The chunky sports seats seem to eat into rear seat legroom.

There's extra space next to the wireless charging pad for another device, the glove box is big, and there's ample room for big bottles in the door cavity. The Fabia comes with a number of Skoda touches - hello, umbrella in the door - including a tiny waste bin for the door storage, which I think is a simple but brilliant idea.

In the second row, you'll find lower air vents, a pair of USB-C ports, ISOFIX points on the outboard seats, three tether points and a small storage tray over the transmission tunnel. But you won't be able to fit larger bottles in the doors.

It is tight back there, too, especially behind my 183cm (six foot) driving position. The chunky sports seats seem to eat into rear seat legroom, so it will be interesting to see how much space there is in a lower grade model without those seats.

  • The Fabia’s boot can swallow 380 litres with all seats in place. The Fabia’s boot can swallow 380 litres with all seats in place.
  • Extra cargo features, standard on the Monte Carlo, include a luggage net system, extra hooks that can be attached to the rear ISOFIX hooks, and a multi-function storage hammock. Extra cargo features, standard on the Monte Carlo, include a luggage net system, extra hooks that can be attached to the rear ISOFIX hooks, and a multi-function storage hammock.

The Fabia's boot can swallow 380 litres with all seats in place, increasing to 1190L with rear seats lowered.

That is a bit more than the VW Polo (351L) but can't quite match its SUV stablemate, the Skoda Kamiq (400L).

Extra cargo features, standard on the Monte Carlo, include a luggage net system, extra hooks that can be attached to the rear ISOFIX hooks, and a multi-function storage hammock that can be used for delicate items or just extra security in the boot.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   9/10

The Skoda is powered by a 1.5-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, offering up a healthy 110kW of power and 250Nm of torque.

It is paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that drives the front wheels only.

The turbocharged engine is a real sweetie and is a terrific match for the Fabia’s chassis. The turbocharged engine is a real sweetie and is a terrific match for the Fabia’s chassis.

This engine is familiar from other Volkswagen Group models, including the VW T-Roc, and more.

Skoda has an advantage over its rivals with this powertrain. Not including the dedicated hot hatches in the light-car segment - VW Polo GTI, Ford Fiesta ST, Hyundai i20 N, Toyota GR Yaris - the Fabia Monte Carlo is the most powerful model in its class.

How much fuel does it consume?   8/10

Skoda claims the new-gen Fabia will consume an average of 4.9 litres of petrol per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle.

The Fabia requires RON 95 premium fuel and it has a 40-litre fuel tank.

In terms of emissions, the Euro 6 engine emits 113 grams per kilometre.

Given we got in and out of different examples of the Fabia at the media launch, we didn't do a fuel test.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   8/10

Skoda is offering a healthy list of standard safety gear with the new Fabia.

As well as auto emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, it has multi-collision braking, driver fatigue detection, lane keeping aid, adaptive cruise control, driver fatigue detection, blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, lane keeping aid, tyre pressure monitor, reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors and an emergency stop signal.

It has already received a five-star rating from crash safety watchdog, ANCAP, in 2021.

The Fabia is not offered with a front centre airbag that can lower the risk of injury between the front passengers in a side collision, but it scored top marks for side impact tests, regardless.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

7 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

Like other Skoda models, the Fabia is offered with a five year, unlimited kilometre warranty.

The servicing schedule is every 12 months or 15,000 kilometres, whichever occurs first.

Capped-price servicing packs for the Fabia Monte Carlo cost $1500 for five years or $2100 for seven years, both breaking down to a reasonably competitive $300 per service.

Like other Skoda models, the Fabia is offered with a five year, unlimited kilometre warranty. Like other Skoda models, the Fabia is offered with a five year, unlimited kilometre warranty.

Skoda has also just launched service and maintenance subscription plans that allow owners to pay a monthly fee to cover servicing and some parts costs.

The Fabia is covered by an initial one year of free roadside assist, but if you continue servicing your Fabia with a Skoda dealer, it will be topped up by a year for a maximum of nine years.

What's it like to drive?   8/10

Whatever questions there are over value-for-money, the Fabia is a winner on the road.

The turbocharged engine is a real sweetie and is a terrific match for the Fabia's chassis. Acceleration from a standing start is brisk without blowing one's socks off. It's not a hot hatch, but honestly, it's not far off. Skoda says 0-100km/h is done and dusted in 8.0 seconds but it feels slightly quicker.

The seven-speed dual-clutch transmission is well matched with the engine, but tends to hold gears on steep descents.

Strong brakes and excellent steering response help ensure the Fabia is a driver’s car. Strong brakes and excellent steering response help ensure the Fabia is a driver’s car.

With a tare weight of 1265kg, the Fabia is light enough to be nimble on the tight and twisty Blue Mountains roads where the launch event was held. There's plenty of grip from the tyres and the Fabia hugs corners exceptionally well.

Strong brakes and excellent steering response help ensure the Fabia is a driver's car.

The ride is firm but far from jarring. Aside from a massive pothole that I didn't see until it was too late, the Fabia seemed to soak up the many bumps and corrugations of the uneven roads on the drive route better than the Karoq SUV we drove the day prior.

Whatever questions there are over value-for-money, the Fabia is a winner on the road. Whatever questions there are over value-for-money, the Fabia is a winner on the road.

Verdict

For a lot of people looking for a light hatchback, the Fabia Monte Carlo simply won't be an option, because of the pricing. Luckily there are a number of other high-quality, yet more affordable models to choose from. Remember, that entry-price will come down eventually when a lower grade Fabia arrives.

But if you look at the Fabia as a rival to something with a fancier badge - say the aforementioned Audi and Mini - then it starts to make more sense. Neither of those models come close to the standard gear of the Fabia, and the Skoda offers practical features that no other brand has. Add in the fact that it is a joy to drive and the Fabia rises above those premium contenders by some margin.

So, if you're after an affordable runabout, look elsewhere. But if you were considering a more high-end brand of hatchback, the Fabia Monte Carlo is likely more than a match.

Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with travel, accommodation and meals provided.

Pricing guides

$39,490
Based on 15 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$37,990
Highest Price
$40,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
110TSI Monte Carlo Edition 150 1.5L, —, 7 SP AUTO $33,770 – 40,150 2023 Skoda Fabia 2023 110TSI Monte Carlo Edition 150 Pricing and Specs
Monte Carlo Edition 150 1.5L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $34,980 – 41,580 2023 Skoda Fabia 2023 Monte Carlo Edition 150 Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.8
Price and features6
Design8
Practicality8
Under the bonnet9
Efficiency8
Safety8
Ownership7
Driving8
Tim Nicholson
Managing Editor

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