The Blue Oval is nudging into £30k+ executive territory with flood of new, pricier models
Skoda Fabia Greenline review (2009 onwards)
Model: Skoda Fabia Greenline 1.4 TDI
Bodystyle: five-door hatch
Engine: 1.4 three-cylinder turbodiesel
Transmission: five-speed manual, front-wheel drive
What is it?
Now two years old, the second-generation Skoda Fabia has forged a solid reputation for value, reliability and no-frills dependability - qualities we enjoyed ourselves here at MSN Cars with our long term test car. The supermini sector moves fast though, with sales strong as people downsize and look to save running costs.As such the Fabia is perfectly placed, not least in eco friendly Greenline form as tested here. Like its sister cars, the Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion and the SEAT Ibiza Ecomotive, the Fabia Greenline features a frugal three-cylinder 1.4-litre diesel fitted with a particulate filter and chassis, gearing and aero mods to further improve efficiency.
Where does it fit?
Of this VW group trio the Fabia Greenline is arguably the freshest and most practical offering, the Ibiza Ecomotive based on the obsolete previous generation model (a new one is coming) and the Polo also on the verge of replacement. At £10,765 the Ibiza is the cheapest but only available as a three-door.And at £12,140 the Fabia Greenline is almost exactly a grand cheaper than the five-door Polo BlueMotion. Competition in the green supermini sector is fierce though, with the likes of the Fiesta Econetic now muscling in too. And unlike the Skoda the Ford, VW and SEAT all manage to dip under the 100g/km threshold for free road tax.
Is it for you?
If your clothes don't bear designer labels and your supermarket trolley is full of non-brandname alternatives from the in-house value range the Fabia Greenline is going to be right on your wavelength. On tiddly 14-inch wheels and stripped of fancy fripperies its anti-fashion lack of pretension is actually quite refreshing.This certainly fits with the socially responsible vibe green cars are trying to tap into. Trouble is, the Fiesta represents a new wave of eco conscious cars that manage to be both efficient and sexy. Against competition like that the Fabia's dungarees and chunky sweater image looks a little frumpy.
What does it do well?
The five-door hatch format is as practical as ever, the 300-litre boot expanding to 1,163 litres with the seats down while room in the back is generous. And if you want even more space there's the estate, its 480/1,460-litre boot genuinely vast for a supermini and offering the Skoda a real advantage against its Polo and Ibizia relations.It's a cheap car to run of course. But also surprisingly fun to drive. It's slow - 0-62mph in 13.2 seconds slow - but the engine's gravelly tone is full of character and throttle response is sharp. Getting it up to speed takes a while but maintaining that momentum is both satisfying and enjoyable, not to mention efficient.
What doesn’t it do well?
Defiantly dowdy, the Fabia Greenline's appearance isn't going to do anything to stifle sniggers from badge snobs about your choice of car. The bouncy ride can be a little unsettling too, though the combination of small wheels and softish springing is good for comfort.It may be charismatic but the engine is pretty rough too, the power delivery and long gearing further affecting driveability. Off the line it bogs down, before suddenly erupting into a burst of dieselly torque that disappears as soon as it arrives. You do adapt but the Fiesta's seamless, refined power delivery is in a different league.
What's it like to live with?
Perky and eager to please, if you want a car to fit in with your life and not the other way around the Fabia is a great starting point. But if you rack a lot of motorway miles the gruntier 1.9 TDI will serve you much better, without actually costing too much more at the pumps. You also have a much wider choice of spec levels too, Greenline trim offering functional features like powered and heated mirrors, height and reach adjustable steering wheel, fog lights, basic air con and city-friendly plain plastic cladding. But you'll need to dig into the options to add even an alarm (£260) or ESP (£340).
How green is it?
The Fabia Greenline's 68.9mpg is good but lags behind the mid-70s achieved by the Fiesta Econetic, Polo BlueMotion and Ibizia Ecomotive. And, as already mentioned, the Fabia is the only one not to score free VED thanks to CO2 of 109g/km. Still, £35 a year for tax is hardly going to break the bank.And according to the trip computer (curiously absent from many eco cars for some reason) we did actually come close to the official figure on a motorway cruise and never saw anything worse than the mid 50s. For what it's worth Skoda calculates that over 10,000 miles the Greenline emits 180kg less CO2 than the standard Fabia 1.4 TDI
Would we buy one?
If we needed a green supermini and space was our number one concern then the Fabia would certainly swing it, especially with the added benefit of an estate option. And though a bit dowdy the Greenline actually has a surprisingly engaging character, even if few would credit it with such. But the Fiesta Econetic drives better and doesn't compromise on style, the Polo Bluemotion carrying off the premium badge vibe despite its hairshirt spec while the SEAT, though clearly outdated, combines cheap running costs with a bargain price. It's horses for courses then, the Fabia in the running if not out in front in any one area.
GALLERY: Skoda Fabia Greenline
Read more Skoda car reviews
All our Skoda tests
Our long-term Skoda Fabia
All our long-termers
related stories on msn
Latest Cars videos
We round up the finest new motors at the important Swiss motor show.
Date 07/03/14, Duration 3:37, Views 7337