Monday, 3 September 2012 10:16 AM
A friend of mine reckons all cars are the same these days and that they don’t have the character of the old ones.
While he might be right in terms of the classic look, feel and sound there are so many more choices available now from hatchback to estate, electric to diesel. Most budgets are catered for, too. Although some might argue driving is still a rich person’s pursuit.
Today’s manufacturers take the environment into consideration, too. None more so than Skoda with its Fabia Greenline II estate. Under £15,000 brand new this small five-door vehicle will easily transport five adults and their luggage. Nothing ground-breaking about that. But it returns 83mpg (combined) and produces just 89g/km CO2 so there’s no road tax to pay.
In fact it is the most frugal Skoda ever with reports that it is capable of travelling more than 1,200 miles on a single 45 litre tank of diesel. To be precise 1,246 miles for no more than £65.
This phenomenal achievement is down to its three cylinder1.2 TDi engine, which is surprisingly engaging to drive. Energy recovery sees the chirpy little car convert kinetic energy back into usable electricity, either stored in the battery or immediately used again by the vehicle’s electrical components.
It’s aerodynamic, has low profile tyres with a higher prescribed air pressure to reduce friction, engine stop start and gear change recommendations. The engine stop start is one of the best I have come across, cutting the engine dead at traffic lights and traffic jams every single time and starting back up immediately. This is a complete contrast to the stop start system found on a Fiat 500 for instance, which is temperamental, to say the least. I like the Skoda’s traditional handbrake.
Parkers, the car experts, say: “The Fabia Estate is a great choice for young families. It’s roomy, good to drive and cheap to run. The estate model offers additional practical benefits to the hatchback - namely a bigger, versatile boot - and it meets the needs of families with smaller children with a well thought-out design. The bigger load space results in a longer body, so it isn’t as ideally suited to city life as the hatchback.”
But from the side this estate’s design is pretty uninspired although its chrome grille is distinctive.
We’ve come to expect high build quality from Skoda and you won’t be disappointed as you can see by watching the video at testdrives.biz. Although the interior is perhaps a little bland there are good equipment levels and soundproofing. The black upholstered seats are both comfortable and supportive. There’s even air conditioning.
A criticism is that the cruise control function could be improved as the switch to increase and decrease the speed sits at the end of the indicator stalk on the left of the steering wheel. If the driver is too vigorous in their pressing they inadvertently engage the indicators. A button on the steering wheel, in the same way as that found in Volvo, Renault and others would be more user-friendly.
What really appeals to me about the Skoda Fabia Greenline II is that it enables drivers to be eco-friendly without hitting them in the pockets in the way that hybrids or entirely electric offerings do - for me these currently fail in terms of cost and practicality and the Greenline II wins hands down.
Skoda Fabia Greenline II estate