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Fabia Monte Carlo is a small car that is big on fun.

The Czech supermini is a firm favourite of ours at Motors. It is functional, well built and while not exactly stunning to look at, manages to be kind of cute.

The standard five-door Fabia hatchback is also available in Combi/estate and hot ‘RS’ 180bhp form. As Škoda is part of the Volkswagen Automobile Group (VAG) Fabia gets to use the same underpinnings and parts bin as VW’s Polo - so it has to be good. While Polo may still cast a bigger shadow in terms of perception than Fabia, the Czech machine is growing in stature. Versions like the super economical Greenline (that I have managed 97mpg in!), RS and the ‘Monte Carlo’ on test are helping.

Fabia got a make over last year that delivered a freshened exterior and interior. Stronger design lines, new bonnet, grille and headlights helped to bulk up the car’s appearance thereby helping the car stay current when compared to super rival machines like the aforementioned Polo, Kia Rio (Continental Irish Car of the Year 2012), Ford Fiesta etc.

What’s so special about Monte Carlo? This Fabia is a feature packed special edition that you can clearly see from our pictures is all about making a dramatic styling statement. For roughly two and a half grand more than the standard Fabia entry price (€12,745) you get a lot of kit as standard. Inspired by the 100th anniversary of the famous rally Škoda has pimped up the Fabia with black 17-inch ‘Trinity’ alloy wheels, roof, grille, wheel arches and mirrors, even the headlights and spotlights are blackened. Sports seats and sporty trim in places help liven up a functional, plain interior. All of this racy kit shoots Fabia Monte Carlo to the top of the list of desirable cars for teenagers to suggest that their Mum’s buy – obviously so they can use it!

The Fabia engine range has been overhauled and is made up of five 1.2 litre petrol versions with different power outputs (60-105bhp), a 1.4 TSi (RS) and three 1.6 litre diesels with 75, 90 and 105bhp make up the engine range. Specification levels in order of equipment are called “Active, Ambition, Greenline, Monte Carlo, Elegance and of course RS.

On the road my 105bhp 1.2 litre TSi (€17,030) feels nippy and eager to please. Fabia handles with precision and throws up no surprises. The front-wheel chassis is well capable of enthusiastic driving yet is comfortable about town despite the suspension being firmed up in this version. Škoda’s Monte Carlo is fun to drive unlike the principality where the mostly narrow, twisty streets are clogged with slow moving Rollers and moped riders intent on crashing into you! 0-100 kph takes 10.1 seconds - but it feels quicker. Driving this Monte Carlo puts a grin on your face. The four-metre long Fabia hatchback is of course a practical car with a boot that holds 315 litres up to a maximum of 1,180 litres with the seats down.

It is about time Fabia shouted about how good it is.

Michael Sheridan