21.9.2011 Skoda Fabia Estate Greenline II review
The Fabia Estate Greenline is a typically well made Skoda and very practical in terms of passenger and luggage carrying abilities, even without using a ski box on the roof. No road tax is a money saver, but unless you go frequently into the London congestion zone and want to avoid paying, I feel most drivers would prefer a more enjoyable drive, probably use less fuel, and hold up other traffic less, by going for a larger engine version.
The 1.6 TDI has emissions of 109 g/km but because you don't have to work the engine so hard I reckon would achieve similar fuel consumption figures most of the time.
Review by Russell Bray for nextgreencar.com
Adequate for city motoring, almost adequate for brisker out-of-town driving, I think is the honest way to put it. The 1199 cc three-cylinder engine delivers a good slug of torque (133 lbs/ft) from 2,000 rpm and the whole 74 bhp at 4200 rpm. That's enough crawling in traffic, but acceleration from rest to 62 mph takes 14.3 seconds and to achieve that you have to be merciless with the engine and fast with the gear change. My opinion is most people would be better off using a larger engine more gently. The engine is the same as that fitted in the VW Polo Blue Motion but subjectively seemed noisier. It's a real rattler on start-up.
I don't believe economy cars need be stolid to drive but the Fabia Estate wasn't a dynamically enjoyable car. It was far happier cruising in a straight line than going round corners at any pace. Sometimes fuel-saving low rolling resistance tyres and their handling characteristics are to blame but this time there were other factors. Steering feel and response matters to me, but on the Fabia Estate it was horribly springy and not linear in behaviour. Ride comfort was good but the downside was there was a lot of body roll – at least when lightly laden – when cornering and my overnight bag slid around in the boot area. A Labrador would have hated it.
Estate cars are often more elegant looking than their equivalent hatchback or saloon stablemates and the Fabia Estate lives up to that. It's sleek with sharply chiselled lines and looks. An upright, square edged stance makes it easy to position on the road and to judge parking. The overhang at the front is a little too long from a styling point of view but required to protect pedestrians if they wander out in front of you. Sometimes estate versions of superminis provide little extra space but the Fabia uses its extra height to provide a big, deep boot and is a very generous load carrier with the rear seats folded. Length is 4247 mm and it is 1642 mm wide.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
Good supportive seats, accommodating driving position and a logical switchgear. Cruise control and hill hold control make life more relaxing. Tyre pressure monitoring (wrong tyre pressures aren't just dangerous they will cost you fuel unnecessarily) is a welcome upmarket feature. The Fabia is good for oddment space and includes a double glove box. Below that, looking rather like an afterthought is an electronic media-in socket. Luxury equipment on the test car included £275 extra Climatronic 'set and forget' heating and ventilation. It also has an easy-to-use large button radio with CD player.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
I have no doubt that the Greenline II Fabia Estate is capable of 83.1 mpg (the combined cycle figure) but on planet earth I think it would require a lot of 40 mph cruising on a motorway at three o'clock in the morning. Over quite a high mixed mileage, the car had averaged 55.9 mpg and you could achieve that with much better accelerative performance with the much more enjoyable to drive 1.6 TDI. At 48.9 mpg we were 20 mpg shy of the 68.9 mpg official urban figure. CO2 emissions of 89 g/km put the Skoda into band A with no road tax to pay and means that the London Congestion Charge is free. Insurance is group eight which seems rather high. Service intervals are at 10,000 miles.
New 1.2 litre turbo diesel with particulate filter emits just 89 g/km of CO2 making the Fabia the most environmentally friendly Skoda yet. A gear recommendation indicator is paired with energy recovery using electricity generated during deceleration and automatic engine start-stop in traffic. The car is also slightly lowered for better aerodynamics and runs on low friction tyres to further save fuel. Road test experience reveals results are better on paper than in reality, perhaps unless you live in a remote part of Scotland with no traffic to hamper your progress. Next Green Car Rating for the tested model is 26.
Equipment levels are good and include alloy wheels, roof rails, Halogen headlights with range adjustment, side and rear windows in tinted glass, boot dividing system and tie-downs, trip computer, air conditioning, cruise control, power steering, automatic start-stop to save fuel, central locking, electric front windows (rears for £155), electric mirrors, eight-speaker stereo system, MP3 player connectivity (though Bluetooth is £335). Door pockets will take 1.5 litre drink bottles. A usual complaint is that there is no spare wheel, just one of those optimistic repair kits. Metallic paint is not available.
Model tested: Skoda Fabia Estate 1.2 CR Greenline II
Body-style: Five-door supermini estate
Engine/CO2: 74bhp 1199cc 3-cylinder diesel / 89gCO2/km
Trim grades: Only one in Greenline range
On-road price: Estates from £11,035. Tested model £14,420
Warranty: Three years/ 60,000 miles
In the showroom: Available now
Review rating: 3.5 STARS
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