Every man and his dog makes a high-mpg special these days, but Skoda got in there early with the Octavia Greenline, and the Greenline II is the second-generation of the model, using a smaller 1.6-litre turbodiesel engine. Skoda has high claims for the economy – 68.9mpg on average, for this estate model – so will the Octavia prove as efficient as the figures suggest? Find out below…
It’s fair to say that the Octavia isn’t the most interesting of shapes on today’s roads, but its inoffensiveness also means few are likely to find it unattractive. It’s a clean and fuss-free shape, particularly in the Candy White paint of our test car. Other shades are available, and if you don’t want your car to show off the dirt, then we’d recommend steering clear of the white or black.
We reckon the Octavia also looks a little better in the estate bodystyle than it does as the hatchback. The 15-inch ‘Pyxis’ alloy wheels perhaps look a little small from some angles compared to more fashionable larger rims, but the tall tyres help fill the arches and visually imply a decent ride quality. The Greenline rides 15mm lower than standard Octavias to improve aerodynamics.
Although the overall shape is unexciting, there are still some neat little details on the Octavia. Chrome and green badges on the large, confident grille and the tailgate denote the Greenline trim, and we like the Octavia script in the headlight units – a feature seen on some of the VW Group’s more expensive products.
We’ll start with the boot, as it’s rather large – 605 litres with the seats in place, and an enormous 1,655 litres with the seats down. It’s a usable space too, wide, and easy to access. There’s a little step in the load space with the seats down which is unfortunate – it means that for larger, heavier loads, you’d need to manoeuvre them over the step rather than sliding them all the way down the cabin.
There’s little to complain about in the rest of the interior though. Like the exterior it’s not the most imaginatively-designed space, but everything feels well-built and the plastics are neither unpleasant to look at, nor to touch. More importantly, your points of contact with the car – the steering wheel and the gear knob – are pleasant to use and nicely finished.
The ambience is also lifted a little with silver-coloured trim and chrome detailing, and the white backlit instruments and white-on-black information display all look modern. A ‘Bolero’ touch-screen stereo system is standard, really lifts the dash, and proved easy to use.
Out on the road, the Greenline II is actually pretty good to drive. At 1,300kg it’s not overly heavy for the class and this translates to a degree of agility, while feeling planted on the move. The steering is nicely weighted and accurate, whether you’re driving around town, tackling B-roads or cruising on the motorway. There’s even decent feel, so you’re not left doubting what the grippy front tyres are doing.
The ride quality implied by those tall tyres turns out to be genuine. They take the edge off smaller and sharper imperfections where narrower sidewalls often struggle. As such, the Octavia should prove a comfortable family car, but it also means you won’t be thrown about as much on bumpy British B-roads, and some of the deep potholes left after winter won’t be as great a concern. The soft ride does mean occasional floatiness over crests or flatter speed bumps, but the benefits outweigh the costs.
On the motorway, the Octavia remains quiet and refined. There’s a little wind noise from the mirrors, but the engine is as good as inaudible, and road noise from the low rolling-resistance tyres is low.
You might expect only 1.6-litres of turbodiesel engine to feel a little gutless, and while the outright performance is nothing to write home about, at no point in the 400 miles of our test did the engine feel inadequate. As ever with diesels, the 184 lb ft of torque produced between 1,500-2,500rpm is more relevant than the 103 horsepower at 4,400rpm.
That meant we rarely had to work the engine hard to make progress, and could instead keep the revs down to the benefit of fuel economy. To this end, the Greenline II also has a gear change recommendation indicator. This works fairly well if you follow it, rarely advising an unnecessary gear change, and should help drivers get the most from the engine.
When you’re not watching the mpg, the engine is also responsive and the strong torque makes motorway work a breeze – it’s happy to cruise at 70mph, but should you so choose it’ll sit at 80, 90 and above without complaint. More powerful models may get there quicker, but once you’re at speed the 1.6 will hang onto it without any problems.
As far as refinement goes, the 1.6 isn’t too bad. This certainly isn’t one of those “you can’t even tell it’s a diesel” diesels, but you only really notice around town, or when accelerating hard. Even when you can hear it, little vibration makes it into the cabin.
We found the Greenline II’s standard stop-start very effective too. It stops when you put the car in neutral and lift your foot off the clutch, and re-fires when you depress the clutch. We couldn’t catch it out – the engine firing instantly even a fraction of a second after it stopped.
Value for money
The Octavia Estate Greenline II retails for £19,205, and for that you get plenty of space, and plenty of equipment – a trip computer, cruise control, air conditioning, a touch-screen stereo system and more are all standard.
Our car also came with three options, raising the total price to £21,505.
4-spoke multi-function steering wheel (£450) – Useful at times, but not essential. We found the buttons a little too easy to clip when manoeuvring the car.
Acoustic rear parking sensors (£305) – The Octavia Estate is a relatively long car, so these are fairly useful, and for this price, probably recommended.
‘Columbus’ satellite navigation (£1,545) – We probably wouldn’t bother. It’s nicely integrated into the dash and we like the directions that pop up on the info screen between the dials, but an aftermarket sat-nav is a tenth the price and just as useful…
Then there’s fuel economy. This is the Greenline II’s raison d’être, so we kept a close eye on it over the test.
The official figures for the Estate are 53.3mpg urban, 83.1mpg extra-urban, and 68.9mpg combined.
In ten miles of city driving from cold, we managed a very impressive 52mpg – very close indeed to the official urban figure. No special driving techniques were needed – just sticking to speed limits, not thrashing the car everywhere, and allowing the stop-start to do its stuff at traffic lights. Some out-of-town driving around the Yorkshire Moors returned mid-60s mpg, a figure helped no-end by the low-rolling resistance tyres, which meant even the slightest of downhill sections could be taken without touching the accelerator.
Much of our test – around 350 miles – was motorway driving. Here, it returned just under 60mpg. Again, no special technique was needed, but we did set the cruise control at 70mph for much of the journey if the roads were clear. On a perfectly level surface at 70mph the instant mpg display was showing as much as 65mpg, so our motorway figure reflects the occasional higher speeds. If you tend to cruise at 80mph, you should see between 50-55mpg.
All those are excellent figures. They might not match the official mpg, but if your commute involves regular 40 and 50mph roads and you drive sensibly, you’d potentially get pretty close. Throw in the relatively low list price and spacious interior, and the Greenline is great value.
The idea of this test was to determine whether the Octavia Greenline II could get close to the official fuel economy figures, which also grant it £20-a-year road tax (or free, if you buy the hatchback instead of the estate), and whether the small engine would prove too slow.
On the first count the answer is a cautious yes – it’s fair to say that VW Group products tend to be “driven with vigour”, so some drivers may fall short of our 60mpg motorway and 52mpg city figures, but they’re certainly there for the taking if you’re not in a hurry.
On the second count, the answer is no – the 1.6 performed admirably, and although not a fast car, nor did it feel sluggish.
It’s a mark of the car’s competence that during our test we drove several Jaguar models at an event – and climbing back into the Octavia at the end of the day, we didn’t feel too short-changed.
We’d be more than happy recommending the Greenline to families looking to reduce their fuel bills while keeping a practical, comfortable car.
What the press think
We’re not alone at finding the Octavia Estate Greenline II an excellent car here at carwow – the car also scores well with the critics. They too like the value, the space and the refinement, while praising its economy.
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