This is the Skoda Octavia model that you should consider first if fuel economy is your top priority.
The Greenline III uses the same basic 1.6 diesel engine that features in other Octavia models, but efficiency has been stretched out to an impressive claimed 88.3mpg, while the 85g/km CO2 means that (as a 40% rate taxpayer) you'll pay just £94 a month in company car tax.
On paper, at least, it should be just as good to drive as the standard Skoda Octavia 1.6 TDI (which does 74.3mpg and emits 99g/km), if not better becasue it's got a bit more power and a six-speed gearbox instead of a five-speeder.
What’s the Skoda Octavia Greenline like to drive?
We’ll start with the weak points, because there aren't many. Ride comfort is a bit iffy, particularly around town, as the Greenline fidgets over scarred roads, and the wheels can thump heavily over potholes.
Noise from the suspension is also intrusive at low speed, and wind noise from the windscreen is quite noticeable on the motorway, although engine noise drops into the background at a steady cruising speed.
Apart from that, the Greenline is pretty much everything you'd expect. The six-speed gearbox is great; it’s got a slick shift and it helps to make the engine feel more relaxing than in other 1.6 diesel Octavia models because revs are kept low on the motorway. You might need a few more down-shifts around town than in some rivals, to keep the engine in its punchy mid-range, but this is a minor criticism.
The handling is pretty much unchanged. That means you get well-weighted steering, stable and confidence-inspiring cornering, and not much body-roll. Apart from the few ride and refinement niggles, it’s one of the best diesel eco-hatches to drive.
What’s the Skoda Octavia Greenline like inside?
The same as ever, which means that it benefits from a dashboard that’s easy to use and nice to look at and touch, along with a great standard spec. A 5.8-inch colour touch-screen, USB-input, a DAB radio, Bluetooth phone connection and audio streaming, climate control and rear parking sensors are all included.
Pay £100 extra and you'll also be able to control your iPhone or iPad player through the car's screen.
You also get driver’s and passenger’s lumbar support as standard, which helps make the seats that bit more comfortable for long journeys, and there's loads of space and adjustment, so it's easy to find a natural driving position.
Visibility is very good all-round, and of course, the Octavia also benefits from a vast boot and rear passenger space that's comparable with cars from several classes above.
Should I buy one?
If you’re after the roomiest and most economical family hatch you can get on a budget, look no further.
There’s not a whiff of the budget feel that other efficent hatches suffer, and the new Greenline is also the best of the 1.6-diesel Octavia models to drive, making it a no-brainer for company car buyers, and well worth the £590 premium it commands over the 1.6 TDI SE for private buyers.
The Octavia even returned 61.9mpg in our real-world True MPG economy tests, meaning that it beats most other diesel eco-hatches that we've previously tested for fuel efficiency.
Some rivals do other things better; the Seat Leon Ecomotive is even cheaper than the Skoda and handles slightly better. Or the Audi A3 Sportback 1.6 TDI has a better finished cabin, is better to drive and isn't much more expensive to run as a company car, at £106 a month. Admittedly, it's pricier as a private buy though.
Even so, for an overall balance between costs, practicality, and generally being a pleasant way to travel, the Octavia Greenline is the best of its ilk.
What Car? says...
Engine size 1.6-litre diesel
Price from £20,300
Torque 184lb ft
0-62mph 10.7 seconds
Top speed 122mph
Fuel economy 88.3mpg (official combined)
CO2 output 85g/km