Long term test report: Skoda Octavia Greenline II 1.6 TDI
Up and down the country, in and out of London, adorned in stickers and eking out the mpg. The Skoda Octavia Greenline has had a very eventful time recently with Sue Baker at the wheel.
What a kaleidoscope of a month. The Octavia has had a whirling dervish of a time, dashing about the country in a wild mix of work and leisure. Its agenda has included six airport round trips, a couple of forays into central London, a night at an Oxford college for a reunion dinner, a return haul to Cardiff for a Dylan concert, a trip to Goodwood for the gloriously nostalgic Revival meeting, a day at Brands Hatch for a round of the British Touring Car Championship, and a trip to Milton Keynes. Then there was a little outing to Gloucestershire.
You will read much more about the Octavia’s rollercoaster drive around the Cotswolds and across the Mendip hills elsewhere in this issue, but it cannot go unrecorded here that the trusty Skoda distinguished itself on this year’s MPG Marathon, proving that with judicious driving, a largish family car can achieve a remarkably good result in an economy trial. Considering that this is a car some four and a half metres long, weighing the thick end of two tonnes, I was pretty proud of it for recording an average miles-per-gallon figure in the mid-80s over two exhausting days of be-stickered fuel-sipping purgatory.
The Octavia is unquestionably in top-notch fettle. In preparation for the marathon, it went back to Skoda’s UK headquarters at Milton Keynes for a quick health check to ensure it was in the best possible condition for a good economy testing result. Given a mechanical once-over, valeted inside and out, the trusty Octavia looked and felt in gleaming good health. There is something about a freshly-spruced, scrupulously clean car than somehow makes it so much more agreeable to drive – especially when someone else puts the hard work in.
Here’s a confession. When you have spent interminable hours pussyfooting around the countryside in obsessive eco mode, it is almost impossible to resist the urge to splurge on the way home. So I did. Heading east after the marathon for the homeward haul, I couldn’t resist flooring the throttle, braking with impunity, liberally stoking the gearbox and generally driving in a manner that was more red mist than frugal green. Result: Economy halved. Fuel consumption for the two and a half hour homeward trip slumped to an all time low, during my time with the Octavia, of 45.8mpg. I felt both liberated and ridiculously guilty. It just goes to show the difference that your driving style can make.
How times have changed. It isn’t all that many years since a fuel consumption in the mid-40s would have been something to boast about. Not any more, with today’s modern diesels. All credit to the motor industry that fuel figures climb increasingly higher. I reckon that motor manufacturers have done a cracking job in that direction, and they should be making a bit more of a song and dance about it. Cars take too much undeserved flak from eco-warriors, who ought to divert some of their wrath towards overheated public buildings, office blocks ablaze with lights through the night, and other environmental sinners.
But I digress. All the month’s frantic activity has added over 2,000 miles to the Octavia’s odometer, pushing the tally past the 10,000 mark. I must now admit that when Mr Editor first told me I would be running the long term test fleet’s Octavia, I wasn’t hugely excited about it. I regarded the Octavia as a white goods kind of car, something you need but don’t necessarily crave – a car for efficiency rather than excitement. But it has really surprised me. For its unelevated price, it is a stonking package: a roomy, honest, well-built car with Volkswagen Group quality for budget money. It has a very useful boot, all 585 litres of it, stretching to 1,455 litres when you stow the back seats. What’s more, it is really surprisingly good fun to drive on favourite back roads. It has good balance and a crisp, secure handling feel that belies its quite bulky body.
Skoda is currently on a roll, with enough canny, unsnooty customers to keep its dealers very busy. But it still suffers from badge snobbery. Less well-informed chums who drive premium brand models still tend to curl their nostrils slightly at the green arrow badge. More fool them.