The Skoda Fabia is still one of my favourite small hatchbacks. Back in 2015, I drove the base model with a 6-speed manual gearbox and was smitten. It was so torquey with that 1.2-litre turbo motor, and it was a hugely fun drive. In fact, in 2015 the Skoda Fabia won our $20K Challenge

That $20K Challenge was seven years ago, and for 2022 Skoda has released an updated model. As cars do, it’s grown in physical size and, well, price. There’s just one model of Fabia for 2022, and it’s the top-spec Monte Carlo priced at $39,990.

Is the 2002 Skoda Fabia value for money, at that cost? Time to spend a few weeks behind the wheel to find out. For the second week, DriveLife’s Alistair Weekes will take the car and give his point of view on the new model.

What We Like and Dislike About The 2022 Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo

What we likeWhat we don’t like
Torquey and smooth engine
Interior quality and finish
Fun factor
Boot space and adaptability
Ride quality
Lack of some expected features
Rear legroom a little tight

What’s In The 2022 Skoda Fabia Range?

New Zealand gets the one model of the Fabia, the Monte Carlo, priced at $39,990. It’s eligible for a $2,181 rebate under the Clean Car Programme.

Power is by a 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder turbo-petrol motor that outputs 110kW of power and 250Nm of torque. Combined fuel consumption is stated by Skoda at 5.4L/100Km, and the transmission is a 7-speed DSG automatic gearbox. Skoda claims the car will get to 100Km/h in 8.0 seconds.

At the launch, Skoda NZ suggested a hybrid version may be coming at some point.

2022 Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo Standard Equipment Highlights

Safety & Assistance

  • Euro NCAP Safety Rating 5-Star Safety Rating
  • Airbag for driver and front passenger with front passenger airbag deactivation, Side airbag in front with curtain airbag
  • Adaptive Cruise Control and speed limiter
  • Front Assist (Auto emergency braking) with pedestrian and cyclist detection
  • Lane Assist
  • Manoeuvre Assist
  • High Beam Assist
  • Driver Fatigue Alert/Monitor to support safer driving practices
  • Hill start assist
  • Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
  • Driving Mode Select with ECO Function
  • ‘KESSY’ keyless central door locking, w/ engine start/stop
  • Anti-theft alarm system with interior monitoring
  • Rearview camera and front and rear parking sensors
  • Rain & Light Sensor, automatic headlights lights and wipers
  • ISOFIX Rear Seat Child Anchors

Exterior Specification

  • Monte Carlo black design includes the external mirror caps, front grille frame, front bumper spoiler, roof spoiler and rear diffuser with Black lettering
  • LED Headlights, LED day driving lights with Fog light & coming/leaving home function
  • Electrically controlled heated and auto-dimming (driver) Exterior Mirrors
  • “SUNSET” tint for rear windows
  • Sports Suspension

Interior Specification

  • Monte Carlo metallic red décor on dashboard, centre console and front door handles
  • Sport Leather Multifunction Heated Steering Wheel
  • Alloy pedal covers
  • Dual-zone automatic air conditioning
  • Front armrest with red sport stitching
  • Ambient LED lighting – red/white
  • 2 x USB ports in front, 1 x USB port in rearview mirror, 2 x USB ports in rear
  • Simply Clever Package – Net Program, Double-sided boot mat, Door-panel waste bin
  • Rear storage compartment on the tunnel console with elastic cup holder


  • Sports comfort front seats with integrated headrest upholstered in black fabric with carbon-look accents and red and grey stripes
  • Manual height and lumber support adjustment on driver and passenger seat
  • Carbon-look décor in front door panels and dashboard with black headliner


  • BOLERO colour touch screen Infotainment system with 6 speakers and SKODA Surround
  • Bluetooth handsfree with wireless smartphone charging
  • Wired Smartlink+ incl. Android Auto and Apple Carplay

Alloy Wheels

  • 17” ‘PROCYON’ Black bright machining Alloys with Aero hubcaps

Our Review Vehicle’s Optional Equipment

  • Velvet Red paint $1,000

Including the optional equipment, our review car’s retail price is $40,990.

For a full list of specs and options available for the 2022 Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo, head on over to the Skoda New Zealand website.

How Does The 2022 Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo Compare To Its Competition?

It’s a dwindling list of 5-door small hatchbacks available, as manufacturers move to SUVs.

All prices below exclude the refund or additional cost of the New Zealand Clean Car Programme.

Make/ ModelEnginePower/
Price (excl CCP)
Mercedes-Benz A180 Hatch1.3-litre, 4-cylinder turbo-petrol100/20055.7355$60,200
BMW 118i M Sport Hatch1.5-litre, 4-cylinder turbo-petrol103/22056.3380$58,990
Audi A1 35 TFSI S Line1.5-litre, 4-cylinder turbo-petrol110/25055.4335$51,690
Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo1.5-litre, 4-cylinder turbo-petrol110/25055.4380$39,990
Peugeot 208 GT1.2-litre, 3-cylinder turbo-petrol96/32056.3311$37,990
Toyota Yaris ZR Hybrid1.5-litre, 3-cylinder, petrol-hybrid67/12053.3250$37,290
Honda Jazz e:HEV Luxe1.5-litre, 4-cylinder VTEC petrol/hybrid72/25352.8304$36,000
Kia Rio GT Line Plus1.0-litre, 3-cylinder turbo-petrol88/17155.4325$32,990
Suzuki Swift RS1.0-litre, 3-cylinder turbo-petrol82/16055.7242$30,990

First Impressions Of The 2022 Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo

In Velvet Red, our test Fabia stood out from the crowd and then some. I had people looking at the car wherever I went, and I put that mainly down to the colour. Put simply, it looked amazing. I very much enjoyed returning to the car in the supermarket car park. This design in Velvet Red is a stand-out.

As far as design changes go, well there’s been plenty. The car has changed all over, with the front grille now resembling that of the upcoming Enyaq EV. Still up front, there are active shutters to help reduce drag, and LED headlights to help modernise the front end. 

There’s a new crease on the side of the car, and that small change has lifted its image, giving the Fabia a more classy look side-on.

At the rear, the taillights now flow into the hatchback itself, and the rear of the car is certainly one of its most appealing features, for me at least. It all seems to work well back there, with nice, flowing lines and not too much clutter.

The new model is longer, lower and wider than the previous generation, but does have more headroom.

Overall, the new Fabia is a win in the design department.

What’s The Interior Like In The 2022 Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo?

I think one of the things I took away from the launch of the new Fabia was the interior. The quality, trim levels and finish have moved up to a new level.

In saying that, when I picked up the Fabia Monte Carlo, I thought I was in a base model. The manual handbrake and lack of heated seats in a top-spec version made me feel like it wasn’t top-spec after all. During the cold snap we experienced while I had the Fabia, I missed those heated seats quite badly. The seats are manually operated, too. No huge problem but a little strange not to have electric seats in a top-spec model.

But those things are pretty much the only interior items that are missing from the Monte Carlo. You still get a 3-stage heated steering wheel, Qi wireless phone charging, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, one-piece sculptured front seats, and quite a bit of other gear that’s included with this model.

That heated steering wheel is perforated where you hold it, and feels excellent. It’s flat-bottomed too, for that sporty touch. 

The wireless phone charge pad is right up front, and it leans forward to reduce the temptation to look at your phone’s screen since you can’t see it. In front of the wireless charger is another storage area of reasonable size. Behind the gear lever is a small square for dumping change (I guess) but weirdly, Skoda has put this behind the gear shifter, and then the two cup holders behind that storage area. It means a tricky reach backwards for whoever is using the last cupholder. It feels like it would have been a better idea to put the cup holders right up there behind the gear shifter, and then the storage bit closer to the centre cubby. But hey, it’s not the end of the world. The centre cubby isn’t large, taking a wallet and a few other smaller items. But the glovebox is fairly decent in size, for the size of the car. There is another small but usable cubby on the right-hand side of the steering wheel, big enough to fit a wallet.

As usual for a Skoda, there are lots of Clever Touch items in the cabin. The driver’s door has an umbrella inside of it, as well as a rubbish bin-type of arrangement inside the driver’s door pocket. There’s a parking ticket holder on the windscreen, cellphone holders on the back of the front seats, and also a pen holder in the front centre console, by the wireless charger. As someone who carries a pen in the car all the time but can never find it, I found this the most useful Clever Touch. Simple, cheap, and effective. Or perhaps I’m just too easily pleased.

New door pulls on the new Fabia, and they are great.

Fabrics used in the interior are excellent, with a good mix and not many hard plastics at touch points. The dash has some fake carbon fibre on it, and it looks okay. Skoda has been bold with the dashboard itself, and the car has FABIA on either side of the dashboard in size 100 font. But don’t panic, it looks fine and does give the car a bit of identity. The doors also have a carbon-fibre material, but it’s soft touch for your elbows to lean on. 

The overall quality of the interior is excellent, feeling well-made and, well, European. On the console, doors and dash there are some red pieces of trim. They lift the interior from the blackness, and are a welcome design feature. Keep in mind that red trim is in every Fabia sold, no matter what the exterior colour.

Rear legroom can be a bit tight, and while the one-piece front seats look cool, they could add a bit of claustrophobia to rear-seat passengers. But rear-seat passengers are treated to two USB-C ports, as well as a couple of air vents – something not often seen in a small hatchback. Headroom front and rear is reasonable, with the rear seats sculptured down to give more headroom.

The boot of the new Fabia is a decent 380 litres in size, equal biggest in size in our comparison table. It’s deep too, and the floor is a double-height system, so you can remove the bottom layer to fit tall pot plants and whathaveyou in there. Under the lower floor is a rare item, especially in a small hatchback; a full-size steel spare. It’s a welcome sight.

There are lots of things happening in the boot area. You get some dividers that simply velcro onto the floor to stop things sliding about. There’s also a rubber mat under the top floor, that you can use when transporting wet or muddy gear. A cargo net is stuck in a side pocket, and there’s also a fabric curtain (Skoda calls it a Cargo Shelf) that folds out to hold long umbrellas or wet jackets.

What’s The 2022 Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo Like To Drive?

After going to the launch of the new model, I was looking forward to spending a week behind the wheel, and even more so handing off the car to Alistair from DriveLife to make sure I wasn’t loving the new model too much simply because I loved the old model.

Heading off in the car from the dealership, that torquey engine gives an instant first impression of a fun week; it’s so damn torquey, smooth and refined. Yes, 250 Newton-metres of torque is not a massive amount by today’s standards but keep in mind that the 2022 Fabia weighs in at 1,283Kg and you get the idea. Performance is effortless at any time, in any drive mode. Eco mode? A doddle. Acceleration when you are 5-up? Too easy. 

And it is also the refinement of the motor that is class-leading; at 100km/h, there is zero engine noise. It’s only on Wellington’s steepest hills that the engine can get a little vocal and even then, it’s never bad or intrusive. It’s smooth too, right out to the 6,500rpm redline. For me, it’s top marks for the engine. Driving the new Fabia reminded me of the CX-5 I had the week before. Both engines are incredibly refined and smooth, with gallons of torque.

Attached to the engine is Skoda’s standard 7-speed DSG gearbox. Does it have the usual DSG quirks of being a little jerky at low speeds? Totally does. But as usual with a dual-clutch automatic, once on the move all gear changes are crisp and quick.  While the Fabia doesn’t have steering wheel paddles, you can either pull the lever back down to switch the transmission into Sport mode or flick the lever to the right to engage Manual mode.

The Monte Carlo is a front-wheel-drive, so in the wet with full-throttle acceleration, you will get some axle tramp. It’s not too bad, and it’s only a second or two before electronics start working and reign it in. In the dry on a full-throttle start, there’s just a bit of wheel chirp and then those 250Nm get you moving very quickly. Skoda suggests 8.0 seconds to get the car to 100Km/h, but honestly, it feels quicker than that.

The last Fabia I drove handled very well, and was a fun car overall. The 2022 Fabia is the same, but more. Turn-in on the car is excellent, and those Michelin Primacy tyres grip like hell, giving the car above-average handling capabilities. It’s a boatload of fun on a windy road, but if you aren’t someone who likes to chuck a car around, don’t panic; the Fabia has your back, and it gives the driver a lot of confidence, never feeling out of control. The handling is pretty balanced for a front-wheel drive, and as far as handling goes, it impressed me more and more over my time with the car.

Helping you out on a twisty road are those front seats; the side bolstering is excellent, and they will hold you snuggly in place no matter how tight the corner. Not only that, but the overall comfort of the seats is superb. The cushioning is spot on, and many passengers commented on the seats as soon as getting in the car. They’re pretty much perfect.

So it’s fun on a windy road, but what about the Daily Drive, where the 2022 Skoda Fabia will spend most of its time? Overall, it’s top marks. That torquey, quiet and smooth engine makes commuting an absolute breeze and often the car will go into 2-cylinder mode. You won’t even notice as the car simply doesn’t sound or behave any differently, but there is a dashboard indicator to let you know it’s shut down half the cylinders. Even at 100Km/h, the car will sometimes go into 2-cylinder mode if it can, impressive stuff.

Visibility out of the car is good, except for some large C pillars, common in today’s vehicle design. Lucky that visibility is generally good, as the Monte Carlo does not come with blind-spot monitoring. At the launch of this model, Skoda NZ mentioned that the semiconductor shortage is affecting features such as this.

There’s also no Traffic Sign Recognition (TSR), but this is common across VW-Audi-Skoda models. A shame, as we’ve come to get used to TSR and its benefits. 

Adaptive cruise control is standard on the 2022 Fabia, and it will bring the car to a stop. On the downside, once stopped, after a few seconds the car will beep at you, and then start creeping forward. This is one of the downsides of not having an electric park brake. Speaking of brakes, well they too are excellent. They’re not anything radical or special, but the feedback from the pedal and the way the car washes off speed is a pleasure. They’re the best brakes I’ve used on a car for a while. 

Still on that Daily Drive, the ride quality is surprisingly good for such a light car. Mostly the car simply floats along, and all credit to Skoda as this is tricky to achieve with its relatively lightweight. Front and rear parking sensors are standard, as are white-edged gauges, and they look great. Clear too, although there is no 50K/h marking, but one of the driver’s display options is a big digital speedo, so all is not lost.

It was so great to see Skoda has stuck with having a volume and track/station knob for audio, unlike their VW siblings. They work, and they work well. The steering wheel controls work very well too, and rarely did I need to look at what button I was pushing. I love that Skoda has stuck with a thumbwheel on each spoke, the left side controlling audio volume, and the right thumbwheel changing your options for the driver’s information display. Long may it stay like this; simple, intuitive, and effective.

One thing on the commute that I missed was sliding sun visors. When extended to the side, there’s a fairly decent gap left behind for the sun to poke through. I hope a future Clever touch feature is to have the sun visors sliding, or at least have a piece of plastic that slides out from the visor for added safety.

We drove the Skoda Fabia for around 1,000Km and for fuel consumption it returned 6.4L/100Km, a litre more than the 5.4L/100Km that Skoda suggests for a combined rating.


When I first saw that Skoda had released a new Fabia, I nearly jolted at the price. How on earth had DriveLife’s favourite cheap car in 2015, nearly doubled in price?! Yeah, yeah. I’ve seen the headlines about inflation, but seriously Skoda?

Although once you’ve seen the new Fabia, you’ll understand the price hike is justified. On the outside, the Fabia performs the usual Skoda trick of looking more expensive than the window sticker suggests. Sharp exterior lines, detailed headlights and taillights, plus the striking red paint makes the Fabia look like a stylish and sporty product.

Inside, the interior is tastefully stylised with hugging sports seats, red garnishes and faux carbon fibre. The build quality is also superb, while the onboard tech is responsive and not over complicated.

Yet, where the Fabia stands out is with how it drives. With the engine outputting 250Nm of torque, it feels spirited off the line. Midrange pull isn’t bad either, while VW’s DSG gearbox ensures seamless gear changes. The Fabia handles well, but perhaps more importantly, the ride quality is far superior to many in the small hatchback class. Mentally, I equate the Fabia to driving like a small Volkswagen Golf. It does everything competently and cossets you in a way that only a robustly built European vehicle can.

The sore point for the Fabia is still in the sticker.  It wasn’t long ago that a Volkswagen Polo GTi cost 40-grand, and mentally I haven’t adjusted.

More objectively, Skoda has made some odd specification choices for the Fabia. It has a heated steering wheel, but no auto wipers. No heads-up display, yet a cheaper Toyota Yaris has one. The list goes on.

But the biggest issue with the Fabia is in the family. The Skoda Kamiq, a small SUV, in the top-spec is only $4000 more.

Suffice to say, I think the Fabia may struggle for sales at the price point. It’s a shame because it’s an excellent small hatchback. I would still recommend driving one, you might just fall in love with it.

2022 Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo – Specifications

Vehicle Type5-door small hatchback
Starting Price$39,990
Price as Tested$40,990
Engine1.5-litre, 4-cylinder turbo-petrol
Power, Torque
Transmission7-Speed DSG automatic
Spare WheelFull-size steel
Kerb Weight, Kg1,283
Length x Width x Height
Boot Space / Cargo Capacity,
(seats up/seats down)
Fuel tank capacity,
Fuel Economy,
Advertised Spec – Combined – 5.4
Real-World Test – Combined – 6.4
Low Usage: 0-6 / Medium Usage 6-12 / High Usage 12+
Towing Capacity
Kg, unbraked/braked
Turning circle
Small: 6-10m / Medium 10-12m / Large 12m+
Warranty5 Years or up to 150,000Km
5 Years Roadside Assist
Safety informationANCAP Rating – 5 stars – Link – # Stars – PFW840

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Fred Alvrez
How on earth to start this? I've been car/bike/truck crazy since I was a teen. Like John, I had the obligatory Countach poster on the wall. I guess I'm more officially into classic and muscle cars than anything else - I currently have a '65 Sunbeam Tiger that left the factory the same day as I left the hospital as a newborn with my mother. How could I not buy that car? In 2016 my wife and I drove across the USA in a brand-new Dodge Challenger, and then shipped it home. You can read more on We did this again in 2019 in a 1990 Chev Corvette - you can read about that trip on DriveLife. I'm a driving instructor and an Observer for the Institute of Advanced Motorists - trying to do my bit to make our roads safer.
2022-skoda-fabia-monte-carlo-car-review<!-- wp:paragraph --> <p>Alistair pretty much summed up my feelings about the 2022 Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo; great car all around, but there are other options out there that some may be tempted to. </p> <!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --> <p>That doesn't negate the fact that it has a superb drivetrain, looks great and is well-built. Add into that the handling capabilities and ride quality of the Fabia, and you have a car that deserves to sell well but may be overshadowed by its own family members. And that’s a real shame, as the 2022 Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo is an excellent car in its own right.</p> <!-- /wp:paragraph -->


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