An easy to drive, easy to live with, capable soft-roader. Recommended

What is it?

My nomination for one half of the ideal two-car garage. 

The Skoda Octavia Scout is fundamentally an Octavia estate lifted by 31mm and given some underbody protection and exterior cladding. It’s an SUV-lite, if you will, with all that entails.

What's it like?

In many ways, not so different from an Skoda Octavia estate, unsurprisingly.

There are a few Scout badges dotted around inside, but essentially it’s the same as the regular estate, with all the goodness that brings: lots of room for occupants front and rear and a cavernous boot (flat floor an optional extra). Material choices are good. The driving position and general ergonomics are sound and the cabin feels solidly built.

You can have a Scout with a 148bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine (like this one) and mated to a six-speed manual gearbox, or a 181bhp version that comes with a dual-clutch automatic. 

Both drive through a Haldex electronic four-wheel drive system that’s usually front-biased and punts power to the rear when you need it.

There’s no petrol option, which is the kind of sensible decision Skoda makes. 

If you don’t want to tool around a bit on unmade roads or you don’t need to tow, a regular Octavia is available. If you do want to do those things, you’ll be wanting a larger-capacity diesel, right?

Right. Most of the time, though, the Scout feels like a marginally taller, slightly lazier-responding regular Octavia, which is no bad thing. 

It’s a relaxing car to drive, with easy, steady control weights, a slick gearshift and steering that’s smooth and uncorrupted, as long as you switch off the over-sensitive lane departure assist. 

The ride is compliant, thanks to the suspension’s extra height and 50-profile rubber on the 17-inch wheels, but handling remains composed and secure. 

The latest-generation 4WD system doesn’t necessitate the front wheels completely losing grip before power is diverted rearwards, so traction is strong, even on lock out of junctions from a standing start. 

All of which makes the Octavia Scout a more conventionally rewarding steer than most full-size SUVs, in a slightly old-fashioned, loping way. You can make a big SUV keener to drive than this, but usually that involves ruining the ride. The Scout strikes a good compromise. 

Elsewhere, noise levels are low, interior refinement high and straight-line stability strong. Although its extra weight over a regular Octavia blunts the performance a little, the Scout feels quite fast enough. It’s the sort of car that’s remarkably easy to recommend.

Should I buy one?

You might well, what with it being so agreeable and all. What the Scout can’t do, of course, is go as far into the rough as a full off-roader, or tow 3500kg, but my bet is that on the right tyres it would go far enough for most buyers, while there’s a 2000kg towing limit on this manual model (200kg less on the auto). 

Back to top

Cars like this remain a niche in a market where the cachet and perceived qualities of a grown-up SUV win through, but truth be told, unless I was desperate for the increased towing limit, this is where I’d rather put my money, and it undercuts most rivals on price too.

Skoda Octavia Scout 2.0 TDI 150 4x4

Price £25,315; 0-62mph 9.1sec; Top speed 129mph; Economy 55.4mpg; CO2 129g/km; Kerb weight 1451kg; Engine 4 cyls, 1968cc, turbodiesel; Power 148bhp at 3500rpm; Torque 251lb ft at 1750rpm; Gearbox 6-speed manual

Matt Prior

Matt Prior
Title: Editor-at-large

Matt is Autocar’s lead features writer and presenter, is the main face of Autocar’s YouTube channel, presents the My Week In Cars podcast and has written his weekly column, Tester’s Notes, since 2013.

Matt is an automotive engineer who has been writing and talking about cars since 1997. He joined Autocar in 2005 as deputy road test editor, prior to which he was road test editor and world rally editor for Channel 4’s automotive website, 4Car. 

Into all things engineering and automotive from any era, Matt is as comfortable regularly contributing to sibling titles Move Electric and Classic & Sports Car as he is writing for Autocar. He has a racing licence, and some malfunctioning classic cars and motorbikes. 

Join the debate

Add a comment…
robhardyuk 2 December 2014


I cannot think of a more boring car or product line up.
dipdaddy 27 November 2014

It made me wonder that skoda

It made me wonder that skoda was supposed to be a budget brand competing against the likes of Dacia, Daihatsu, datsun (when it comes) and they've accidentally offered a premium quality car that's getting good reviews from buyers, reliability seems to be far better than them too and when compared to the likes of VW and Audi offering it seems like a bargain car. it begs the question that why pay a premium price for a Audi when the Skoda pretty much has the same gear, chassis, electrics and even 4-cyl engines just remapped differently. you could easily save yourself a lot of cash. no wonder VW wants to come out with a new budget car brand. only thing that keeps Audi premium is they offer A6, A8, TT and R8 and only thing comparable to A6 A8 from Skoda has is a Superb and it has better rear legroom, a premium quality finish and very competitively priced. only downside is no wood veneer or V8 option.

it would be nice for a car journalist to do a thorough impartial investigation and publish an article on this that apart from the tech fest on the Audi's and VWs how do they really differ on standard entry level like for like models and which seems better, how much you're saving, any trade off's. there can't be a embargo or injunction on this from VAG so it would be a good thing to read.

drivenfromthere... 26 November 2014

Subaru Outback then?

So if you rare going to spec it up, why not take a look at the original and best.....?
Sporky McGuffin 27 November 2014


drivenfromtherearplease wrote:

So if you rare going to spec it up, why not take a look at the original and best.....?

I tried an Outback. Not bad, but a bit slow and it fair boinged its way down the road like a hyperactive kangaroo. I think they'd forgotten to put any dampers in the back.