Skoda Fabia Estate GreenLine
Model/Engine size: GreenLine 1.4 TDI PD 80bhp DPF
Fuel economy combined: 68.9 mpg
No other car combines the economy, space and value for money that the Skoda Fabia Greenline Estate offers. It’s even enjoyable to drive. But with that big body and small wheels, could you live with a car that’s more ‘sensible’ than ‘special’?
The Greenline is – yes, you guessed it – the green version of the Fabia Estate TDI. Features such as lowered ride height, improved aerodynamics and low-friction tyres mean that the Greenline emits 11g/km less CO2 than the standard Fabia TDI, and its combined fuel economy figure of 68.9mpg is 7.5 mpg better than the standard car.
The chassis and engine combination means that the Fabia hatchback is actually good to drive, and the estate is no different. If you need to lug lots of stuff around, then the Fabia Estate has 480 litres of load space with the seats up, and 1460 litres with the seats down, it promises up to almost 70mpg combined with emissions of just 109g/km, and has a price tag of only £12,145. It’s also in group 3 for insurance, and road tax costs just £35 per year.
The main reason for the Fabia’s excellent fuel economy is the VW Audi Group’s highly efficient 3 cylinder, 1.4 litre diesel engine – which it shares with the Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion. It may not be the quietest or most refined engine (although it can sound entertaining in a strange sort of way), but it manages to combine reasonable torque (producing 144lbs ft of torque at 2200 rpm, useful for an estate that can carry over 500kg) with fuel consumption of around 60mpg in real world conditions if driven sensibly.
Because the revs are so low – at 70mph in fifth gear it does just 2000rpm – you’ll often find that the car almost feels like it’s stalling if you reduce your speed but don’t change down the gears.
Of course, the quality of Skodas has been excellent for a number of years now, and the Fabia continues this theme. This includes in the interior, which, not surprisingly, has a definite VW feel to it, ie. competent and solid – but bland, with dull plastics. There’s lots of space for driver and passengers – it will fit five people if needed – and the boot is also a good size for this class of car.
Equipment is good – standard kit includes air conditioning, an eight-speaker stereo, and a trip computer, so you can monitor the mpg you can tease out of the car. No results are yet available for the estate, however Euro NCAP crash test results gave the hatchback four stars for occupant protection.
The Fabia’s handling is good, the ride is comfortable, and the steering is light yet still has feeling, but we’re still not convinced about the low rolling resistance tyres. The recommended high pressure of 39psi will certainly help with fuel economy, but the tyres have very poor grip in certain conditions – such as coming out of wet roundabouts with all that torque from the 3 cylinder engine! At least it makes it fun if you want to explore the results of (relatively) high levels of torque and low levels of grip.
Another area for improvement is the headlights, which seemed very weak, even with the adjustable height settings checked for correct aim.
So it just comes down to whether you can live with a car that is very competent but just not very special looking. Most car designers make an effort with saloons and hatchbacks, but then seem to give up when they have to design the rear on an estate version. And combined with its reasonably large body and small wheels, it really does look rather… well – ‘impotent’. The base Fabia hatchback is essentially a good-looking car, so come on Skoda, other manufacturers are giving us green cars that still look good, let’s find a way to stop making green cars look second best. If you can live with the looks, then this has to be the best, sensible small green estate.
Fuel economy extra urban: 83.1 mpg
Fuel economy urban: 53.3 mpg
CO2 emissions: 109 g/km
Green rating: VED band B – £35
Weight: 1140 Kg
Company car tax liability (2008/09): 13%
Price: £12,145 (From £9,370 to £13,785)
Insurance group: 3
Safety: NCAP TBC
Max speed: 105mph
0-62mph: 13.7 seconds