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SKODA: simply clever Brand re-invented leads the way in rallying & sales

S2000 IRC › Octavia vRS › Superb SE › Yeti DSG › Fabia MC


06 >> News 08 >> S2000 Rally Fabia 12 >> Neil Cole Column 14 >> Octavia vRS 24 >> Superb SE 32 >> Yeti DSG 4x4 40 >> Fabia Monte Carlo



f ever there was one automotive brand that has re-invented itself successfully, it’s Skoda. Once the butt of jokes like: How do you double the price of a skoda? Fill up the tank. Why do skodas have heated rear windscreens? To keep your hands warm while your pushing it. And the classic: What do you call a Skoda with a sun roof? A skip. Now... the joke is on other car makers. Skoda is a winning formula. In the first quarter in 2012, UK sales alone hit 14,000, following the success of 2011, when 45,000 were sold. They also received 18 major awards in 2011, and continue to do so in 2012... including topping the influential JD Power survey for the past 19 years! Add to that, Skoda Motorsport repeated its double win in 2011 as IRC Drivers’ & Manufacturers’ Champions, with Andreas Mikkelsen bringing home the IRC Drivers’ title for Skoda UK Motorsport. You can read about that inside. Also in this Skoda special are: The new (diesel) Octavia vRS –can it live up to its hot petrol sibling? We also look at a 200mph Octavia vRS. Then we have the Superb Greenline II, which really lives up to its name. And there’s the funky, amazing Yeti 4x4 SUV and the fun-packed Fabia Monte Carlo special edition. Oh, and our columnist, Neil Cole talks Skoda too. Enjoy! Thanks for reading! Road Editor, Phil Royle.

TEAM ROAD We are a happy, friendly & highly experienced team of media moguls at Road, including: EDITOR: Phil Royle ART EDITOR: Bonnie Coupland STAFF SNAPPER: Neil Denham ROAD USA: Ashley Van Dyke COLUMNIST: Neil Cole ECO TESTER: Gemma Scott I.T GURU: Steve Davies Follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook & enjoy our ace blog, using click-blob links above.



he new Skoda compact hatch will be called the Rapid, the brand announced at Auto China 2012 in Beijing. And the car will make its debut in Europe before the year is out. A Chinese version of the Rapid will be built and sold in China from 2013. The close-to-series concept car, which Skoda displayed in Beijing, provides a preview of the new Chinese model specifically. “As part of its growth strategy, Skoda has initiated the largest model offensive in its corporate history and will bring a new vehicle to market every six months on average in the years ahead,” Skoda CEO Winfried Vahland said at the brand’s press conference in Beijing. “The Rapid is our next new model. It has a central importance for our growth and will provide us with a strong tailwind on international markets,” said Winfried Vahland. With the Rapid, Skoda offers “an attractive and family-oriented model in a global growing segment between the Fabia and the Octavia.”

The MissionL design study provides a preview of the car’s design and concept. Skoda showed the MissionL’s European variant at IAA 2011 in Frankfurt and displayed a version modified for Chinese market in Beijing. For the interior design of the Chinese model, Skoda conducted extensive research in China and asked customers about their individual wishes in order to build a car that suited the customers’ needs. “MissionL China is true Skoda. It perfectly embodies the brand’s values: fresh design, functionality, roominess, ingenuity, and priceto-value ratio typical for our cars,” Vahland added. “This car makes a clear statement: precise and emotional. Lots of room for the driver, passengers and luggage. An ideal car for families.” The European version of Skoda’s Rapid will reach UK showrooms from late 2012, and, judging on the roaring success of the firm to date, and of 90% of the cars we tested in this issue, expect another winner...


Fabia s2000: top of the irc world

Skoda UK Motorsport reapeated its double win in 2011 as IRC Drivers’ & Manufacturers’ Champions, with Andreas Mikkelsen . 2012 looks like business as usual...


koda celebrated 110 years of motorsport participation in style in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) in 2011 – claiming back-to-back drivers’ and manufacturers’ crowns with its Fabia Super 2000. The Czech company has a long history of motorsport success both on the race circuit and the rally stage and its rally team has finished on the podium on some of the world’s toughest events, such as the epic Safari Rally, in addition to claiming countless victories

in the IRC since it joined the series in 2009. As well as running its famed factory team in the IRC and developing its Fabia S2000, Skoda unleashed an R2-version of the car for the IRC 2WD Cup and it’s likely to prove a popular option in 2012. So far in 2012, with Portugal, Spain and Ireland down, Andreas Mikkelsen leads Juho Hanninen, Jan Kopecky and Sepp Wiegand... all Skoda in the top four spots, with 10 rounds to go. Business as usual!

Lesley Ann Albiston


Neil Cole is Road’s new motorsport columnist: “Clipping all the apexes, and dotting all the Ümlauts!” Neil, a man of many talents – part comedian and part TV presenter – has appeared on our screens covering WRC with Dave, motorsport on ESPN, Motors TV, the BBC, ITV, C4, MTV, AXN, UKTV, Extreme Sports Channel, The Audi Channel and Sky One. He is also a producer for World Series by Renault. Top guy & talented scribe...


o you remember the first time? I am old enough (just...) to remember that Skoda had a bad rep. They – like Essex Girls and The Irish – were the butt of lazy jokes. Even now, some people have a Mental Eastern Bloc when it comes to the Czech manufacturer. I, however, can only thank the brand for providing my life with a few key “firsts”... Before you get the wrong idea, my teenage fumbles were not in the backseat of a Favorit. No. It’s much more exciting than that.

Thanks to Skoda, I experienced my first ever flat-out run in a World Rally Car on tarmac. The driver was Toni Gardemeister, the rally – Tour de Corse. At Shakedown I was invited get strapped into the co-driver’s seat. Well, I was a little bit cocky... this wasn’t my first time in a WRC car, I’d been in 3 or 4 by then, so I slipped into the Nomex, popped on a helmet, and sat down with an almost nonchalant air. The whole point of the piece (it was being filmed for the WRC show I presented at the time) was to show the difference between gravel and tarmac... Yet I’m thinking “Really? How different can it be?” Well... even as we lurched up the road section toward the start line, the smile started to slide from my face. Mainly thanks to the G-force... but also as I realised this was a whole different kettle of bitumen. The Fabia was stiff, low, and it was both stopping and starting with a suddenness I had never felt before. With a silent Finnish grin, Toni looks sideways at me, I look sideways at him, and we launch into the stage. My head stays sideways. Yikes. Like every rollercoaster I’ve ever been on, combined. It takes most of my upper body strength to turn my head so it is facing forward again to enjoy the view. Except as soon as it is facing forward – the view is not ideal... a sheer precipitous mountainside drop is approaching at an impossible speed and Toni is showing no sign of having noticed! As

I try to find some breath in my compressed lungs to warn him “Cliff... cliff” and fail to lift a heavy hand to point at the danger, my head introduces itself to my knees, as we brake, and make the corner safely. This incredible exercise in gravity, grip, traction etc would have been very useful for Physics GCSE... but my actual biology had great difficulty understanding just how this car could operate in this way. There was no sideways. This thing was sticking to the tarmac like trainers in a squash court. And I’d never felt anything like it. Amazing. And my neck was sore for days... I have understood both racing and rallying much better since that day. Another first – the one and only time a car has made me abandon a piece I was presenting and dive for cover was a certain Mr Colin McRae, in a Skoda Fabia, in 2005. My TV crew & I were embedded in the bushes to the right (stage right) of Bunnings Jumps, the iconic series of fast downhill crests in the Bannister section of the old Rally Australia in WA. I was to give a little as-live commentary as each car came flying past. The first few went by, links delivered with adrenaline-aided timing and then a lung full of red dust. But then we knew what was coming... the legend, Colin McRae, who at this stage was already wrestling unprecedented speed out of the Fabia. A little nervously, I started my mental countdown... then, as the engine

noise grew, I started speaking... but... with a quick look over the shoulder I could see McRae was already a good 2m higher, 2m wider and MUCH wilder over the first of the jumps than any of his predecessors. With a squeak, I dived into a very prickly bush as the green and white monster flew at head-height past us, extremely loud and incredibly close, landed, bounced again, landed, flicked out, took the corner and carried on beautifully. That link never saw the light of day; mainly because the cameraman had taken similarly evasive action. We picked ourselves up, dusted ourselves off, carried on. But an amazing moment. Finally, thanks to Skoda I was an earlyadopter of the now ubiquitous “Jägerbomb”. An off-season skiing trip with the Skoda Motorsport WRC team: a chance to get an informal look at some of the team drivers became particularly informal in the evenings, when the Finns - Janne Tuohino & Jani Paasonen - eagerly impressed us with their knowledge of German & Eastern European spirits. One such revelation involved dropping a mini bottle of Jägermeister into a glass of beer, and then downing it in one. The cocktail – like most things Motorsportrelated - has since been monopolized by Red Bull... but that old-skool beerbased Jägerbomb was one of a number of new tastes I experienced on that trip in Austria, all thanks to the hospitality of Skoda. Cheers! Na zdraví!


The fast & the frugal

The first Octavia vRS was a rally-homologated, 200bhp petrol turbo wonder of a rep mobile. Loved it. This is the new 170bhp diesel offering. Progress?


he first Skoda Octavia vRS, homologated off the back of the Octavia WRC was absolutely, bloody marvellous. Built 2001 to 2005, the Mark I had a MkIV VW Golf chassis and running gear, with a 180bhp 20-valve 1.8-turbo lump from the Audi TT. It knocked out 60mph in 7.5 seconds and ran onto 146mph. And the Mark II vRS went even better, with a MK5 VW Golf chassis and running gear and the 1.8 Turbo engine from the Golf GTi, producing 200bhp. It did 150mph and 0-62 in 7.3 seconds. Both had huge boots, tons of equipment, were cheap, reliable, economical and, best of all for an eternal modifier like me, could easily be tuned to stupid power levels, with the usual exhaust, filter, ECU (& turbo/ injectors) route. It rocked. Enter the new Octavia vRS, starting at £20,330 OTR for

the hatchback or £21,370 for the Estate. Good news... those attractive prices are for the 200PS, two-litre TFSi petrol version, which still does 150mph and 0-60 in 7.2 seconds. Iffy news... there’s now a 170PS “performance diesel” (don’t you just hate those two words put together?) version... costing more, from £21,155 for the hatch and £22,195 for the Estate, with a manual gearbox (or DSG, which is another £1200). This is the model we have on test: A £22,195 manual vRS Estate. Diesel. Let’s be positive first: It looks good, for a big load lugger – vRS design bumpers, rear boot spoiler, subtly badged with vRS logos, twin chrome sports exhaust, lowered suspension, 18inch ‘Neptune’ alloys with 225/40x18 sports rubber, LED lights and, er red brake calipers. And, inside, there’s carbon look facia, chrome

door handles, spats of leather, trip computer, stability control, touchscreen radio and vRS branded three-spoke leather steering wheel, sports seats and kickplates. But (sorry, positivity fading), it’s all a bit, well aesthetic and lacking. It’s carbon ‘effect,’ not carbon fibre. The red calipers are just painted, not upgraded (and will chip). The exhaust is just chrome tailpipes, not a rorty affair. And it’s lacking some things you’d expect from a range-topper – like the excellent Skoda Sat Nav, proper leather or alcantara seats and a sunroof. To be fair, get the DSG model with its twin clutch gearbox and you do get the Sat Nav and a Maxi-dot trip computer, rather than the

basic one, but it’s still all a bit short, in our view. The old vRS gave you the lot for its low price, in its day. Hey ho. How does it drive? Not as good as it should do: You get in, and the sports seats tuck you in tight enough to make you think you’re in for a wild ride. They need not have bothered, and should have fitted cheaper, more comfortable seats instead. One turn of the key reveals all... a clattering, clumsy, torquey diesel, with no sonorous appeal at all.

Get it rolling and things just get worse. The ride quality – so perfect in other Skodas – is way too hard. So hard in fact, I stop to inspect if they have forgotten to fit dampers. There’s a huge mismatch between spring rate and damping. The reason? No doubt... to support the

weight of the lardy diesel lump up front, and attempt to tame understeer and body roll in the bends. To its credit, it does corner quite flat and belies its 1395Kg kerb weight, but it’s not for hooning, and has no interesting, exciting handling characteristics.

On the plus side, if you ignore the lack of revs and hideous diesel clatter, and short shift the direct gearbox within the sweet spot of the grunty engine, the vRS does cover ground well enough, using its 258lb ft and quick-spooling turbo to good effect. And, like all

performance diesels, it has an ace card over the petrol version – offering a claimed 60mpg combined and 650+ mile range, against the petrol 37.7mpg/500+ miles. But is this actually true? I beg to differ. We ran the diesel vRS from Norwich to Edinburgh, and despite the

claimed 650 mile range, it only managed 500, with no traffic hold-ups, cruising at 70mph on the A1 and negotiating the city centre trambased chaos. The trip computer said it was doing over 50mpg, but I think it’s a liar! And if you add on the extra initial purchase, fuelling and

servicing costs of a diesel over a petrol version, what’s the point? At least in the petrol version, you get revs from a great engine, better ride and handling, enjoyment and, if you plumb for the DSG, the spec you would expect too. Performance diesels... pah!

petrol power

Not a hint of diesel here... as Skoda take a 500bhp petrol vRS over 200mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats


ake the diesel out of the equation and what do you get? A Skoda vRS cracking 200mph... that’s what! Meet the world’s fastest Skoda, which hit 202.15mph on the legendary Bonneville salt flats to mark 10 years of vRS, just shy of the 216mph ‘2.0-litre production car’ record. The 500bhp ‘salt spec’ challenger pushed its way

through the 200mph barrier, four days ahead of schedule. It achieved an impressive 195.69mph on its first run of the day. And on the car’s sixth official outing at Bonneville Speed Week, the Octavia vRS propelled itself to an impressive 202.15 mph. Awesome. The car was built in Milton Keynes, tuned by REVO Technik – modified aerodynamically and for safety,

tuned for traction on the slippery salt, slammed 80mm to get it low to the ground and given a huge Garrett turbo, mapped on a methanol/race fuel mix to produce 500-plus bhp, with over 30psi of boost. Robert Hazelwood, Director for Skoda UK said: “Months of rigorous planning, testing and preparation have all been worthwhile. At 13:24 on Monday

15th August, we took our Octavia vRS past the 200mph barrier. The entire team has done an outstanding job. This marks another exciting milestone in the brand’s motorsport achievements and is a great way to celebrate 10 years of the vRS range and commemorate 110 years of Skoda’s participation in motorsport.” Hell of an achievement, for a rep mobile eh?


Superb: By name and by nature

Excuse the naff headline, but never has a truer word been written. Meet the ace ÂŁ22,135, 65mpg, 114 g/km CO2 Skoda Superb 1.6 TDi CR 105 SE Greenline II...


ame a car Superb and you’ve gotta be pretty darn confident it is, right? Well, Skoda obviously are, and this second generation Superb, in their eco ‘Greenline’ spec (think VW Bluemotion) is arguably the most superb of all the Superbs. The GreenLine II is priced from £18,685 for the basic model hatchback to £22,135 for the flagship estate, as seen here (in midrange SE trim, with an S trim lower spec and the Elegance as the peak). So, it’s very competitively priced, as you would expect from Skoda. The 105bhp, 184lb ft 1.6-litre turbo diesel engine figures may sound a bit on the feeble side, especially

for a big, heavy (1471Kg) estate – but, combined with a range of innovative eco technology; like stop-start, low rolling resistance eco tyres and modified aerodynamics, make for a fabulous 64.2mpg and just 114g/Km of CO2. That means just band C for road tax, so just £30 a year. Result. And, despite what you might think, it’s not a slouch either. In fact, it’s got a surprising amount of grunt (when not full of five people and luggage), thanks to the eco engine being perfectly matched to its manual fivespeed, long gearbox ratios. It may not be quick on paper – with a pretty lame 12.5 seconds 0-60mph time and 119mph top speed – but we never felt like it was really

lacking in traffic on test. Better still is the ride and handling. The Greenline II has 15mm lowered suspension, to aid in its eco aerodynamic cause, which keeps its centre of gravity low, enhancing its handling

ability in the process. And the ride quality is absolutely, well, superb. This car could teach the Octavia vRS a thing or two about the crucial ride quality and handling ability balance. It’s absolutely spot on – comfortable and with limited body roll for such a large load lugger. Spot on. And whilst the Superb is by no means a serious looker, it’s no wardrobe on wheels either and is quite stylish in its own right – with subtle little Greenline badges, lovely LED headlights, rear roof spoiler, roof rails, touches of chrome and nice 16-inch wheels (which do look too small for the car, but aid in the comfortable handling factor and ecofactor, with their low inertia eco rubber).

Inside, unlike the Octavia vRS flagship we also tested this issue, the Superb SE Greenline is luxurious and very well specced up, as well as being hugely spacious: It’s like a limo inside, with acres of space – especially in the rear, so passengers travel in serious comfort, as well as style. Up front, the lush leather seats are really comfy, supportive and perfectly adjustable, to help find a perfect driving position. The multifunction steering wheel makes life easy controlling things on the go. And the Sat Nav system is excellent – easy to use, intuitive and clear. Why can’t all systems be as good as this? And there are really nice touches which come to life at night, like the aircraft

style reading lights and the door lighting (pictured) – beautifully done. Regular Road Magazine readers will know that we are mad for balls-out rally cars, big V8s, hardcore racers, hairy hot hatches, track tools and perfectly balanced supercars. But we’ve also got a big love of practical, loveable transporters... and the Superb is right up there as one of the best cars in this type we’ve ever tested. It’s a car you’d gladly cover a 500+ mile cross country, or continental run in – monster boot loaded to the gills, Sat Nav guiding the way expertly, tunes on the iPod, wafting along in total comfort, and safe in the knowledge that your bladder or stomach will be the only reason you need

to stop, given its huge 700 mile range and 65mpg fuel economy. The Superb Greenline II is very much like the fabulous VW Bluemotion range – it does what you want from a modern diesel car… gets you from A-B with your family and your luggage, with no fuss, no drama and you arrive chilled out, happy, content and with money in your wallet. It’s not a car that excites, or makes you want to look back at it – hot exhaust and engine ticking after a long run – with a passionate glance. But it’s a car that does what you want, time after time, reliably, practically and best of all in this age of pricy motoring, affordably. Superb, by name and by nature...

“A car that does what you want... time after time”



There are very few test cars that we love on sight, and the Yeti is one of them – cute, fun, stylish and fabulous. Then we road tripped it... and things got serious


very test car we get at Road HQ gets a proper run for its money. We don’t just read the press packs, take it for a quick spin and get writing. We like to get under the skin of our test cars, and that means living it with them on long runs, popping to the shops, taking them up a mountain, blasting around a track... whatever it takes to test the raison d’etre of the vehicle in question. And everyone gets a POV that goes into our write up... usually com-

ing from lots of different angles, with radically varying opinions, from both male and female testers. The Yeti Elegance TDi CR 140 DSG 4x4 range topper, costing £23,895 was an instant hit – creating a buzz at Road HQ upon arrival. It’s compact SUV formula is a modern day success story, and sales are booming. Rightly so... it looks great, drives fantastically, is superbly trimmed and equipped, is seriously cool, great value and best of all,

loads and loads of fun – a factor so sadly lacking from many modern cars. We took the ultimate test with the Yeti – taking the future mother-in-law, Liz and her precious cocker spaniel, Willow, out to lunch on the Norfolk Broads. Now, Liz and Willow are a discerning pair of car testers – not suffering fools gladly. In fact, the only car getting the total thumbs up tested to date for Road is the £100,000 Lexus LS200h limo, with its massage

seats, hybrid V8 and all. But they both instantly fell for the Yeti, as Art Director, Bonnie and myself did too. The Yeti gets you first and foremost with its cute, super cool, different looks. It’s perfectly proportioned, simple, elegant and stylish – from every angle. And inside the super spacious, light and airy cabin, the cool factor continues, with a neatly designed inte-

rior, perfectly crafted from nice, tactile materials and with well groovy goodies, like it’s ‘Off Road’ button – which alters the ABS, TCS and EDL systems, making the accelerator respond more sensitively when pulling away on loose surfaces and adding hill start assist and uphill/downhill assist functions: This works a treat – allowing you and your ‘go anywhere’ Yeti crew to

take to the green lanes and green fields with ease... adding to the mini SUV’s appeal, and the fun factor. We took the Yeti off road a few times and it never looked like getting stuck. Sure, it’s not an out and out off roader, given it’s relatively limited ride height, but it’s got plenty of traction in mud, on sand and in gravel and is certainly a lot of fun whilst you do it.

The 138bhp, 236lb ft twolitre turbo diesel engine in this test car, matched to a super slick dual clutch, six-speed DSG gearbox and 4WD system is ace. It’s got plenty of useful, low down grunt and mid-range overtaking power and is economical too for its class, offering 44mpg. The Yeti we tested came with 17-inch “Spitzberg” polished alloy rims, which

really set it off aesthetically, and aided its grippy, 4WD flat handling on the road too. And it had super bright Bi-xenon lights with useful and effective cornering function, rain sensing wipers, Bluetooth, heated front seats, full leather, an expert Sat Nav system and plenty more besides. It’s splendidly specced – leaving you wanting for nothing. In fact, that’s the Yeti all

over... it leaves you feeling totally content. In a week of on and off road, male, female, mother-in-law and canine testing, not one of us had a bad word to say about it. It was a love affair that started on sight, for all of us, and only got deeper and deeper as time went on. And, in almost two decades of testing cars, I can honestly say, that’s never happened. Yeti rules!

Yeti urban: limited edition SUV for UK

Aimed at “style-savvy” customers, the black-rimmed, 2WD, manual only Urban gets £2,450 worth of extras...


heck out the new limited edition Yeti, the Urban – created for well-cool urban city designer types. It comes with a choice of two engines: 1.2-litre TSI 105PS and 2.0-litre TDI CR 110PS DPF. It’s limited to just 750 vehicles and the UK market only, and is available to buy from Skoda deal-

ers now, in 2WD, manual form only. Based on the SE trim model, the Urban special comes with up to £2,450 worth of extra equipment at no extra cost – including 17-inch black-and-chrome ‘Matterhorn‘ alloys, wheel arch extensions, chrome side strips, silver door mirror caps, silver roof rails and stylish

eye-catching roof stripes. Inside, it gets a choice of red or black sports seats, sunset glass in the rear and Amundsen+ satellite navigation, Bluetooth connectivity and a multifunction steering wheel to control the audio system and telephone. The Urban comes in Black Magic pearl effect, Candy White, Brilliant Silver metallic and Steel Grey metallic paints, with a range of extra accessories too, like exhaust trims, fancy pedals and the like. We love it! And it’s sure to sell well. Only downside, it’s not the ace, go anywhere 4WD, slick DSG model we loved on test.



At a whisker over ÂŁ15,000, the jazzed-up Monte Carlo edition Fabia range is great fun, snazzy and perfect for wannabe IRC drivers on a budget...


s young early 1990’s wannabe rally drivers, we didn’t have a lot of road car options. The 205 Rallye and latter 106 version were it on the affordability stakes, or a Mini Cooper S (which I had) – if you couldn’t afford the VW Golf GTi, RS Cosworths, or later Mitsubishi EVO’s or Subaru Imprezas (which I also had). Nowadays, things are different. And with Skoda rid-

ing high on the crest of a sales wave and their success in IRC, they’ve created the perfect modern day road car for young rally fans – meet the special edition Fabia Monte Carlo. Built to celebrate 100 years of the legendary French rally and 110 years of Skoda motorsport, the new Fabia special made its first public appearance at the 2012 Rallye Monte Carlo, where Skoda competed

in the IRC-winning weapon that is the Fabia S2000. The Monte Carlo Fabia range features “aggressive, sporty styling and enhanced equipment” – including slammed sports suspension, sports seats, moody piano-black body trim and radiator grille, black lightweight 17-inch alloy rims, smoked headlamps, rear diffuser and a fabulous jet black gloss roof. Cool eh? The Fabia SE Monte

Carlo hatchbacks are available with a range of petrol and diesel engines (see on), priced from £12,755 to £15,000. And we have the top-spec petrol 1.2-litre, 104bhp version on test here, in vibrant Corrida red and black... looking fabulous in the sunshine of the forests, where it belongs. Sort of... Don’t be fooled by its flashy exterior and iconic Monte Carlo badging, this

is not a hot hatch like the 178bhp vRS, which is only £1,100 more to buy, but lots more to insure, plus only comes with the DSG transmission. This one has a speedy five-speed manual. The baby 68bhp 1.2-litre petrol engine in the range is pretty pedestrian, but the two turbocharged petrols at 85bhp or 104bhp start getting more interesting. And, if frugality and low revs are your thing, there’s al-

ways the torquey 74bhp or 104bhp oil burners. The revvy 1.2-litre petrol turbo engine, nicely weighted steering and a sporty suspension set-up with a grab-it-by-the-scruff-of-theneck spirited driving style in mind add to the Monte’s appeal. Fairly flat handling is the result and this is a car that responds well to being driven like Mikkelsen does the S2000, so handbrake at the ready folks! It’s really a

lot of fun at the wheel. Inside the Monte, there’s more to like, with aluminium touches, MC branded kick plates, leather trimmed steering wheel and tinted windows. It’s also quite old school, with simple heater controls that hark back (ney, probably come from) old VW’s. But there’s a good dose of modern technology too, with the fabulously designed radio-iPod-Sat Nav central screen, which is a doddle to use. And there’s

plenty of room inside, front and rear and especially headroom. It’s a decent, airy, well equipped cabin. What this car wants is to demolish your favourite bumpy, twisty, humpbackfilled back road – at legal speeds and with big fun, safely and not costing the earth in unleaded. You have your thrills at relatively low speeds in the Fabia Monte Carlo, with the grip limit easily reached, which is a damn good gig-

gle achieving. And, with it’s bling-bling, rally-style good looks, this is a car that you thrash about in, feeling like an IRC rising star and get out of feeling cool, further reinforced when you turn around to lock it and check it out – covered in dead flies, splattered in mud, like a true special stage muncher. It’s a car built for the exuberance of youth, and we love it. Shameless, harmless, happy rallyesque fun. Nice!


Road Magazine looks into the success story of the re-branding of Skoda – from laughing stock to super global brand in car sales and rallying...

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