In the wake of the Paris motor show, Reuters carried a fascinating article about how car makers are having to abandon smaller engines if theyíre to hit real-world emissions tests. The article (online at tinyurl.com/jkedutu) talks about how the small turbocharged petrol and diesel engines that manufacturers have introduced in recent years are likely to give way to bigger powerplants once again, as theyíre more efficient in the real world. One of the engines that Volkswagen has said will bite the dust is its three-cylinder 1.4-litre TDI unit, which is likely to be superseded by a four-cylinder 1.5- or 1.6-litre powerplant.
In a bid to prove that a bigger engine can be more frugal, we recently attempted to put the theory to the test. Every other year, Club Triumph organises an event called the Round Britain Reliability Run. Itís a 2,000-mile tour of England, Scotland and Wales taking in Landís End and John OíGroats ñ in just 48 hours. This year marked the eventís 50th birthday, which has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for various charities, so what better opportunity to log a carís real-world fuel consumption?
The plan was to compare our long-term three-cylinder Skoda Rapid Spaceback 1.4 TDI with a four-cylinder 1.6 TDI model, but the latter wasnít available that weekend. Undeterred, we tried plan B; an Audi A3 1.6 TDI, which is rated at the same 74.3mpg as the Rapid Spaceback with the same engine. After two days of driving on motorways, dual-carriageways and single-track roads, plus an array of A- and B-roads, the Audi returned just over 54mpg. Still well down on the official figure, but almost 10 per cent better than our Skoda with the smaller 1.4 TDI engine, and though purely guess work, presumably the Rapid Spaceback with the same engine would return something similar in the economy department.
Only the Audi followed the 135 Triumphs around the UK; the Skoda didnít do the whole route, but it did notch up almost 1,000 miles going to various destinations to get pictures of the classics in action. By the end of the weekend there were just over 5,000 miles on the Rapidís odometer, and with this milestone dispatched, the carís fuel economy is creeping up ñ with 50mpg now tantalisingly close.
At this point some owners talk of their engines loosening up, with a change in how it feels, along with the fuel economy that it returns. Thatís not the case for our car, as from the day it arrived the engine has provided plenty of go ñ rather more than you might expect, given the paucity of cylinders. While the downside has been disappointing fuel economy, thereís much to like about the way the Skoda drives and the usability that it offers. In the next issue youíll get the full low-down on these aspects, with no mention of the fuel economy. I promise.
|Date arrived:||18th July 2016|
|Mileage to date:||5,181 miles|
|Fuel consumption:||78.5mpg (official combined) 49.4mpg (on test)|
The sound system is really good. There are just six speakers, but the sound is rich and powerful.
In a world of LED and xenon lighting, the Skoda’s headlights are disappointingly dim and yellow.