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REVIEW – Skoda Scala SE L

Editor-in-chief, Senior Reviewer


Skoda Scala SE L 1.0 TSI 110PS DSG
  • Exterior Styling
  • Interior Finish
  • Engine / Performance
  • Ride / Handling
  • Economy
  • Practicality
  • Equipment
  • Value For Money
5

Summary

The Skoda Scala is a family hatchback, with more conventional hatchback styling than the Octavia. With the Scala, Skoda is setting its sights firmly on the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf. The cabin is a masterpiece, several steps up on older models for sure. The 1.0-litre engine is refined, and has plenty of oomph. The optional sport interior is a game-changer, and seemed incredible value for money. Skoda’s on to a winner here.


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Exterior Styling

When it comes to being a great all-round family hatchback, looks are important. Because the family hatchback needs to look nice outside the family home, at the school gates, and in the local supermarket car park.

To this point Skoda’s ‘go-to’ hatchback has been the Octavia, which doesn’t look like a conventional hatchback at all. With the introduction of the Scala, Skoda has bridged this gap. Not only that, but this is a rather good-looking car.

The model you see here is a high-grade SE L trim, which means it has plenty of bells and whistles. It also has a few option boxes ticked, most notably the £1,465 ‘Exterior Design Pack’ comprising panoramic roof, elongated tailgate glass, full-LED head and tail-lights and gloss black spoiler and wing mirrors.

This pack was further complemented by the 18-inch black/silver alloys (£810) and finished in Meteor Grey special solid paint (£595). It looked tremendous on the drive and attracted glances in the supermarket car park… not something you’d usually associate with a Skoda.

The front end has chunky lines, whilst the angular headlights give an almost menacing appearance. The bonnet has a subtle ridge in the middle, and sweeping curves to either side. The bonnet also extends over the top of the front wings and the line where the two meet continues all the way to the tail-lights.

The elongated tailgate glass, complete with ‘Skoda’ lettering, is a masterpiece that gives a premium flair. The rear bumper has softer lines than the front end, although the tail-lights are as angular as the headlights.

From every angle the Scala looks fantastic, especially in this colour combination. Skoda is making a bold statement with the styling of its latest models, and is showing us all that it mean business.

Interior Finish

The Scala was the first model to showcase Skoda’s new interior architecture. And whilst there was nothing particularly wrong before, this is still a welcome change.

The dashboard has a slimmer profile, which aids visibility and gives a greater sense of spaciousness for front seat passengers. The large 9.2-inch multimedia screen found on the SE L model is not integrated into the dashboard, nor is it perched on top like an afterthought. Instead the dashboard almost moulds around it at the bottom, turning it into the focal point that a screen of this size ought to be.

The materials used throughout the cabin are of a higher quality than before. Moreover, Skoda has given thought to textures: even when all the plastics are black, there are differing textures/finishes which avoid the feeling of dull monotony.

This particular car had the optional ‘Sport interior’ (£670), which adds sculpted, body-hugging front seats, a sport steering wheel and decorative insert. And it is the seats which were the ‘wow’ feature: without fail everyone who saw the Scala commented how nice they were.

It is worth mentioning at this point that if sportiness is your game you will be pleased to hear Skoda has added a ‘Monte Carlo’ trim to the Scala range. It has some striking colour choices and extensive gloss black detailing on the exterior, and a sporty interior complete with bucket seats and red accenting. It’s the grade we’d choose for sure.

On the SE L model (and the Monte Carlo for that matter) you also get a Virtual Cockpit as standard. This fully-digital instrument cluster gives a crisp, modern feel, and has plenty of customisation options; allowing you to scroll through map, media and trip data with ease.

Engine/Performance

There are several engine choices available in the Skoda Scala and, in what could be a sign of things to come for the motoring industry, none of them are diesel. The engine range comprises 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol with either 95PS or 110PS, and a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol with 150PS.

We tested the 1.0 TSI 110PS with 7-speed DSG automatic gearbox, which is likely to be a popular combination. It offers 110PS and 200Nm of torque. With the 7-speed gearbox making the most of every last ounce of power, the Scala will go from 0-62mph in 10.3 seconds and on to a top speed of 123mph.

On paper, that isn’t too bad for a decent-sized family hatchback with a 1.0-litre engine. The reality is even more impressive. The Skoda Scala is a car that drives with the same sporty enthusiasm it has in its appearance. It zips around town with great gusto: even catching you out with its eagerness in first gear at times.

Admittedly, this eagerness does little to overcome significant inclines. It will drop a gear or two. But then given how infrequent this actually occurs, and how competent the Scala is on the motorway, we’ll let that slide. If you live in a particularly hilly area, or just want a little bit more oomph, then the 1.5 TSI is a great engine.

When it comes to gearboxes, few automatics come close to the razor-sharp DSG units fitted to VW-Audi Group vehicles. But if you’re looking for a little more involvement in the driving, maybe the 6-speed manual will be more up your street.

Ride/Handling

When it comes to ride and handling, the Skoda Scala is very well-balanced. I would say that it leans more towards a life around town. The steering is a little on the light side, which is great for the hustle and bustle of a busy town centre. It’s not as great when you get to a fast, flowing B-road.

The suspension setup is a very happy medium. It is supple enough to allow for comfortable motorway cruising, no matter how far you are going. Yet when you come to some fast, cambered corners the Scala doesn’t fall over. In fact, it hold the road well and seeks out the apex.

One advantage of the small, 1.0-litre engine is a weight saving. In this guise, the Skoda Scala weighs just 1,170kg, which is pretty light for a car this size. So it feels nimble, light on its toes. It may not have mountains of power on tap, but it carries speed through the corners very well indeed.

This lightness also means that the Scala is an easy car to bring to a stop. It pulls up well, whatever speed you are doing. That gives confidence both at low speeds through town, and at higher speeds on the motorway or A-roads.

What surprised me most about the Skoda Scala is how much fun I had driving it. On paper it doesn’t sound that impressive, but get behind the wheel and this is car that encourages you to keep driving, taking your favourite roads at every opportunity. It put a big, and unexpected, smile on my face.

Economy

The small 1.0-litre engine and relatively low kerb weight have another advantage too: economy. Combined fuel consumption on the WLTP cycle is 44.8mpg with the 7-speed DSG gearbox. And, as we have seen time and time again under this cycle, the quoted figures are achievable in the real world. Assuming you don’t drive like a lunatic, of course.

So unless you’re doing thousands upon thousands of motorway miles each year, the Skoda Scala is likely to be a perfectly suitable, and cost-effective, family car to run.

CO2 emissions for this model are between 133g/km and 143g/km depending on the option/trim selected (different alloy wheels make a difference, for example). In any instance the first year VED is £215. The rate in subsequent years is currently £150. That’s pretty standard nowadays, with little to separate the Scala from its rivals.

The generously-equipped SE L models have cruise control with speed limiter, which is a useful way to improve economy on a long motorway drive. And it has to be said that the 7-speed DSG is especially clever when it comes to choosing a gear; balancing the need to make progress with that to save fuel.

Practicality

As a country we are becoming almost American in our love of the SUV. They’re everywhere, and come in all shapes and sizes. I dare say their popularity comes, to some degree, at the expense of the ‘traditional’ family hatchback.

But take a look in and around a Skoda Scala and it’s hard to see why. The boot on this car is a rather spacious 467litres. That’s more than plenty for the big supermarket shop, or the family dog. What’s more, a hatchback is a much more accessible height, making the loading of heavier – or bulkier – items a simpler task.

It’s the same story when it comes to cabin space. Rear legroom in the Skoda Scala is generous, even with the optional sports seats which, it has to be said, are rather bulky. But unlike an SUV the toddlers amongst us can actually climb in themselves. As a parent I can’t tell you just how thankful your back is of this simple feat.

Then we come to my favourite thing about Skoda; its ‘simply clever’ mantra. You get little touches of brilliance that could easily go unnoticed. Take the umbrella neatly stowed away in the driver’s door card. Simple idea, and one that can be a godsend with the unpredictable British weather. There’s also an ice scraper on the inside of the fuel filler cap. Genius.

So as a car to live with the Skoda Scala is an absolute dream. It will do pretty much anything you throw at it, and that includes towing. You see this 1.0 TSI model can haul 1,200kg braked and 620kg unbraked, which is pretty remarkable. What more could you possibly want?

Equipment

When it comes to standard specification versus optional extras, Skoda sits somewhere in the middle of the road. At one end you have the Kia and Hyundai mentality, where each model gets a certain specification, and that’s your lot. You want more kit, buy the next model up.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is the likes of BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi. These manufacturers give you a decent specification as standard, but then have option lists spanning several pages and soon adding up to many thousands of pounds.

With the Scala SE L you have heaps of features as standard. Keyless entry and go, Amundsen satellite navigation with 9.2-inch touchscreen, DAB digital radio, SmartLink (with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto), dual-zone climate control, cruise control and speed limiter.

LED headlights and tail lights are standard, giving you a clear view of the road ahead. On the safety front you get Lane Assist, Front Assist with autonomous emergency braking, and hill hold control.

There is certainly nothing wrong with the standard specification, with no glaring omissions. But, should you wish, you can bolster this specification with some reasonably-priced options.

As mentioned earlier, Skoda has now added the Monte Carlo trim to the Scala line-up. It sacrifices some of the goodies of the SE L – such as Keyless entry and go and dual-zone climate control – but replaces these with the sporty design features as standard. For me this is a worthy trade but, as we’ll come on to in a moment, you can add some sporty flourish to the SE L should you wish…

Value For Money

When it comes to overall value for money, there are absolutely no complaints with the Skoda Scala. The line-up is broad and covers a variety of budgets.

The entry-level ‘S’ model costs from £17,265 and comes with a 1.0 TSI engine offering up 95PS. It may not have the comprehensive specification mentioned above but don’t think it’s completely without frills. You still get enough safety equipment to justify a 5-star Euro NCAP rating.

The ‘SE’ model costs from £18,455, the ‘SE Technology’ from £18,855, the ‘SE L’ from £20,085 and the ‘Monte Carlo’ from £23,010.

The car tested here – SE L 1.0 TSI 110PS DSG – costs £22,195 on the road. To this standard cost there were quite a few options, some of which cost a pretty penny.

The 18-inch alloy wheels are £810, exterior design pack is £1,465 and sport interior is £670.

Blind spot detection is a further £555. It’s a useful addition to the safety equipment, but not an essential one. Sport chassis control with drive mode select is £525, whilst the stunning Meteor Grey paint is £595.

On the cheaper end there is a Boot pack for £85, Voice control for £25 and a front centre armrest with two rear USB ports for £100.

So the price, as tested, of this particular car is £27,025. And I appreciate to some – me included – this will seem expensive. But there is, thankfully, a simpler solution.

It is the sporty additions which add a big chunk of cost. If this is the look you want to go for, it makes much more sense to sacrifice some creature comforts and opt for a Monte Carlo model. For £25,720 you can have the 1.5 TSI 150PS DSG model too, with a bit more oomph!

Facts and Figures

Engine 1.0-litre, 3-cylinder turbocharged petrol
Max power 110PS at 5,500rpm
Max torque 200Nm at 2,000rpm
Drivetrain 7-speed DSG automatic transmission, front-wheel drive
0-62mph 10.3 seconds
Top speed 123mph
Fuel tank size 52.5 litres
Fuel consumption 44.8 mpg combined, WLTP
CO2 emissions 133-143 g/km WLTP
Kerb weight 1,170kg
Towing capacity 1,200kg braked / 620kg unbraked
Luggage capacity 467 litres
NCAP rating 5 stars
Base price £22,195
Price as tested £27,025
Company website www.skoda.co.uk/new-cars/scala

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