Skoda Fabia Greenline II (2011) review

Published:25 May 2011

Skoda Fabia Greenline II (2011) review
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This is the Skoda Fabia Greenline II, the eco-warrior’s edition of VW Group’s budget supermini. Inside that familiar upright hatchback bodyshell sits the 1.2-litre three-cylinder TDI engine from the Polo Bluemotion, boasting headline eco statistics of 83.1mpg and 89g/km CO2. It’s a compelling prospect for those seeking to avoid road tax and London congestion charging, but outside of the test lab does the Skoda Fabia Greenline II deliver on its economy promise?

Read on for CAR’s review of the Skoda Fabia Greenline II to find out…

Skoda Fabia Greenline II: the eco-mods

When you first approach the Skoda Fabia Greenline II you notice the big rear spoiler, seemingly at odds with the small 15-inch wheels. But while that wing is a performance modification, it’s there to reduce aerodynamic drag, not for downforce. Combined with 20mm lowered ride height, low rolling-resistance tyres on those dinky alloys, engine start-stop and an energy recovery system for the car’s electrics, the Skoda Fabia Greenline II is optimised for fuel economy.

Skoda handed the Fabia Greenline II to Austrian hypermiling ace Gerhard Plattner, and he managed to coax 127.8mpg out of the diesel three-cylinder supermini on a 1246 mile return journey between Austria and Denmark. The implication is that a regular driver should be able to get close to the 83.1mpg claim.

Inside the Skoda Fabia Greenline II

The Fabia’s tall, functional design has aged well since launch in 2007. It delivers a comfortable interior for four adults, with plenty of headroom, and useful kneeroom and foot space for rear passengers. You get 300 litres of room in the boot into the bargain. The instrument panel and centre console design is simple and straightforward to use, and the optional DVD sat-nav and multimedia control system fitted to our test car worked well. It’s a pleasantly-designed space, sadly rendered in relatively cheap plastics, including the steering wheel rim and gearshift knob. We hope that the new generation of Skoda designs can creep away from the ‘VW by Poundstretcher’ interior trim its parent company has shouldered it with.

Driving the Skoda Fabia Greenline II

If you’re not in determined eco-warrior mode and doing the kind of long-distance driving diesels relish, you’ll find the Fabia Greenline II a somewhat frustrating experience. The stop-start system worked as advertised over our test, and the energy recovery system (it controls the alternator to reduce load on the engine by using the battery, and harvests energy from braking to recharge) was unobtrusive.  So far, so eco-friendly.

But you’ll be frustrated in real world driving by tall gearing, exacerbated by the shift indicator’s eagerness to get the driver through the car’s five forward gears. It’s most noticable when merging onto motorways when the steps through the intermediate gears do the car’s acceleration no favours. It’s a noisy engine too, so don’t expect aural rewards from driving the Fabia Greenline II.

Ride and handling is good for sensible drivers, geared towards comfort and lacking in cornering thrills versus its rival the Ford Fiesta Ecomotive. The Fabia Greenline II isn’t a car for sneaking off the dual carriageway to take B-roads home, unless you enjoy body roll, understeer and the perversity of driving an eco-car in complete odds with its intent. Even then, you’d wish for more steering feel, less noise and a better spread of gears.

Did you hit the MPG claims for the Skoda Fabia Greenline II?

We didn’t. Over our week with the car we reached a 57mpg average. Yes, with a mixture of drivers using the car we may well have had some more aggressive drivers than a typical Fabia Greenline II owner; we also didn’t do much long-distance driving or deny ourselves air-conditioning. It’s a good figure, but we can’t help wondering if a larger, less-stressed diesel engine would give better performance and reasonable real-world economy for the typical driver.

Verdict

The Skoda Fabia Greenline II has the potential to be a very frugal supermini in the hands of a driver willing to wring the maximum economy from each gallon of fuel. But unless you’re a central London MPG miser doing motorway runs you should consider going for one of the 1.6TDI engines instead. For an extra £385 you can have the 104bhp edition in SE Plus trim which would give you a swifter Skoda with less frustration in real-world driving, and only 107g/km of CO2.  Or, if you can live with three doors only, there’s always the Fiesta Econetic for sub-100g/km motoring with a higher level of driving enjoyment.

Specs

Price when new: £13,120
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 1199cc three-cylinder turbodiesel, 73bhp @ 4200rpm, 133lb ft @ 2000rpm
Transmission: Five-speed manual, front wheel drive
Performance: 13.7sec 0-62mph, 107mph, 83.1mpg, 89g/km CO2
Weight / material: 1128kg/steel
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4000/1642/1484

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  • Skoda Fabia Greenline II (2011) review
  • Skoda Fabia Greenline II (2011) review
  • Skoda Fabia Greenline II (2011) review
  • Skoda Fabia Greenline II (2011) review
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