FOR some car buyers it's more about image than actual performance motoring.
If it looks sporty, is well equipped and performs well it doesn't matter that it's not an out and out hot hatch.
And it's into that category that Skoda's Fabia Monte Carlo fits.
In the absence of Skoda's decision not to produce a vRS hot version of the latest Fabia range the Monte Carlo is the flagship model.
And while the absence of a vRS is disappointing the Monte Carlo ticks the boxes of a larger number of potential Fabia buyers.
With its dramatic front cowling, sports bumpers and stylish rally-style side skirts the Monte Carlo looks every inch a hot hatch.
Factor in the black, diamond cut 17-inch alloy wheels, the sports seats, the black headlining and the aluminium pedals and you have a sporting package with a lot of kerb appeal.
And while it might have been playing second fiddle to a vRs, had one been given the go ahead, the Monte Carlo is still an impressive and lively performer.
While it's available with a 1.0-litre engine the model driven here is more powerful 1.5-litre, 150bhp car which boasts an impressive 0-62 miles per hour time of just 8.0 seconds and a top speed of 139 mph.
It's responsive, lively and really delivers when you put your right foot down hard and is probably quick enough for most Fabia buyers.
At the same time the road holding is impressive thanks to a firm but enjoyably pliable suspension which lets you corner quickly with no nasty surprises while ensuring a passenger-comfortable ride.
The Monte Carlo comes with Volkswagen's tried and tested DSG seven-speed automatic gearbox which is not only seamless in operation but offers a Sport setting as well as manual gear changes, although sadly there are no paddles behind the steering wheel to make the latter feature even more appealing to enthusiastic drivers.
And the combination of a relatively large engine in a compact car means impressive fuel consumption, helped by the fact that this car shuts off two of its four cylinders when you are coasting or using the throttle lightly.
The stylish interior of the Monte Carlo is mainly black but dramatic and liberal use of a vivid red hue on the dashboard, centre console and doors really brings the interior to life. And the large red interior front door handles deserve special mention for their design and practicality.
The seats are comfortable and have plenty of shoulder and side support and are height adjustable to ensure a good driving position.
The Monte Carlo comes with keyless opening and locking, keyless start and dual-zone air conditioning and a six-speaker audio system as well as parking sensors and a reversing camera, although using the latter the picture on the 10.25-inch central touch screen was always disappointingly fuzzy.
And sadly there's no sat nav as standard in this model, although you can link your phone to the car when you need to set in a destination.
And being a Skoda you get the marque's "simply clever" features including an umbrella in the driver's door and an ice scraper in the fuel filler cover in case you get caught out this winter.
It's a car which feels solid and well built as well as being a relaxed and enjoyable car to drive as everything falls easily to hand.
There's even a button on the steering wheel to let you switch off the lane assist system should you want to - as I always do - to keep life simple. So many cars now involve using numerous dropdown menus on a touch screen to achieve the same thing, which is time consuming as the system re-sets every time the ignition is switched off.