The Skoda Fabia Estate Greenline offers an incredible 83 mpg average and emissions of just 89 g/km CO2, along with good amounts of space and value for money, so what is there not to like? We took one on a road test and here is our opinion:
Model/Engine size: 1.2 TDI CR 75 Greenline II 5dr
Fuel economy combined: 83.1 mpg
Green Car Guide rating: 7/10
The Fabia Greenline shares its platform and mechanicals with the Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion, meaning that, yes, it shares its low emissions, but it also shares its downsides.
The reason for the excellent fuel economy, but also the primary downside of the car, is the three-cylinder turbocharged 1.2 TDI engine. Although the Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion is incredibly refined, unfortunately you can’t say the same thing about the Polo BlueMotion with this engine – or the Fabia.
Although it may be described as having a ‘characterful’ note, in reality the engine is noisy, especially when accelerating, and apart from at a certain spread in the rev range when the turbo comes on boost, it’s painful to coax up to high speed. It certainly struggles at very low engine speeds, and it’s difficult to get a fast getaway from a standstill, when the car seems to want to kill the revs, which can be frustrating if you’re trying to pull onto a busy road. It’s also difficult to increase the rate of forward progress at motorway speeds.
Once up to a constant speed, then the noise becomes less of an issue. The Fabia is a perfectly acceptable, and helped by the decent ride , a comfortable place to be, if you’re trundling along at 60 mph (when you’re also likely to be enjoying 60 mpg). There’s a dashboard read-out providing a helpful reminder when to change gear for maximum economy – although it’s best to avoid changing into fifth gear at 1500 rpm, as it’s quite a painful experience. And to make reasonable progress you’ll need to go through the gears in the 5-speed box quite frequently.
The chassis feels enjoyable, but in Greenline guise, with its eco-tyres, the Fabia doesn’t feel the most sure-footed of vehicles. If you head into wet or greasy corners in this car, it should absolutely be done at low speed. The Fabia’s steering is light and has reasonable feel, but is certainly not the sharpest of systems.
The build quality of the Fabia feels solid, but the interior is very dull and basic, and the steering wheel rim in particular feels like it’s made from very cheap plastic, almost to the point that it feels uncomfortable to hold.
Although there’s generally a good amount of space for driver and passengers, the bottom right-hand corner of the surround around the stereo can tend to dig into your left leg. The stereo and temperature controls also feel as though they should be the other way round – it feels all too easy to reach out to reduce the volume of the music, but instead you end up turning down the heating, as the controls, unusually, sit above those for the stereo. However you can plug your iPhone into the stereo system, which is good for this class of car.
The exterior isn’t the most exciting of designs either, but at least our test car came with a decent-looking set of alloy wheels which helped to avoid the ‘big body, small wheels’ appearance that is all too easy with the Fabia estate, especially in eco-guise.
But back to the whole point of this car, it exists to provide cheap-to-drive space . With an excellent 480 litres of boot space with the seats up, or 1460 litres with the seats down, it’s a very practical proposition.
As well as making sense for transporting goods from the garden centre to the allotment, the Greenline II also makes sense for city-centre driving , thanks to its stop-start system, which results in an estimated 7.7 mpg fuel saving in urban traffic.
The range of the Fabia will also make you feel great – with a theoretical 932 miles between fuel stops, you’ll forget what it’s like to pull into a garage forecourt. This is a somewhat different feeling to driving an electric car with a range of just 100 miles.
Did we return 83 mpg? No. But we did manage 70 mpg with careful driving , and 60 mpg should be easily achievable under most conditions.
We were disappointed with the lack of refinement in the Polo BlueMotion. Although the Fabia has essentially the same underpinnings, for some reason it feels as though the Fabia can get away with the character of the three-cylinder diesel more than the Polo.
However although the fuel economy of this diesel model is nothing short of amazing, the 1.2-litre TSI petrol engine is certainly better to drive, and this applies to both the Fabia and the Polo.
If you want a small estate that offers the potential of very high levels of economy, that is very cheap to buy and run, then the Skoda Fabia Greenline is surely the answer. However you will need to be prepared to put up with the weak points shared with the Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion, such as noise, lack of power, lack of surefootedness, and a very basic interior. Although it is incredibly economical, these weak points ultimately mean it only gets a Green-Car-Guide rating of 7 out of 10. So it won’t be for everyone, but with rising fuel prices, a sensible and practical 83 mpg estate may become a very tempting prospect for many people.
Fuel economy extra urban: 94.2 mpg
Fuel economy urban: 68.9 mpg
CO2 emissions: 89 g/km
Green rating: VED band A – £0
Weight: 1219 Kg
Company car tax liability (2010/11): 13%
Price: £14,300 (From £10,915 – £17,110)
Insurance group: 8
Power: 75 bhp
Max speed: 107 mph
0-62mph: 14.3 seconds