Monday, 15 February 2010
I am probably not the first to compare the plain interior of the Fabia GreenLine to that of the eponymous coach. You wouldn’t call a car Bakerloo without expecting some kind of comment. It is upholstered and trimmed to be hard wearing, like a GreenLine bus. I suppose they took in ‘Green’ to appease tree huggers, even if it doesn’t quite get down to the 100g/km C02 mark they all think is going to save the planet.
Astonishing, is it not, how BBC presenters and the like, continue parroting all the mantras about global warming as though it was Gospel, forgetting the discrediting of the IPCC, the Met Office, the University of East Anglia and all that dogma about carbon.
Enough of that. The little Fabia is well made, feels safe and stable and although not quite in the bargain basement at £12,555, the low depreciation Skodas attract nowadays should more than compensate. What a change there has been since 11 October 1997, when I had been to Mlada Boleslav and found the biggest transformation in a European car factory for a generation.
It was still necessary to explain to readers of The Daily Telegraph how profound the change was. They were so accustomed to treating Skoda as a joke that it was necessary to remind them that it had had a glorious past and looked like having a glorious future under VW.
Skoda remains a credit to the German management, who took a shabby run-down name and reputation and transformed it, although oddly enough it seems to do better with up-market models such as the Octavia and Superb. The Fabia is more worthy than great. There are four trim levels, 1,2,3, Sport and GreenLine. The 1 is fairly basic. It has ABS and electric windows but steel wheels and a tyre repair kit in lieu of a spare wheel at well under £10,000. The 2s, 3s and Sport get better at up to £14,000 and GreenLine is somewhere in between with manual air conditioning.
The GreenLine’s drawback is a rather noisy 3-cylinder diesel. It may be the most fuel efficient Skoda ever, sharing its engine with the VW Polo Bluemotion and Seat Ibiza ECOmotive, but it is harsh compared with other diesels. Still with the prospect of 53mpg urban, 83mpg extra urban and 69mpg combined, what’s a little engine vibration between friends, and the Fabia is roomier than either. I used it in the snow. They fit skinny tyres to reduce rolling resistance but it didn’t seem to matter. Still, if I have to go by bus I’d like a little more luxury.