From £15,9509
An easy to drive, easy to live with, capable soft-roader. Recommended

Our Verdict

Skoda Octavia

Skoda’s practical and spacious family hatchback takes a step up in size

Matt Prior
26 November 2014

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 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). 

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

Join the debate

Comments
9

26 November 2014
It undercuts rivals on price? Haha. For a bare bones basic 150hp one perhaps. But look at the Škoda brochure and you will find this car is based on very humble Octavia SE origins. So miserly spec to be honest. Try and spec a 181hp DSG up to Elegance levels or heaven forbid a decent car in L&K spec and you have a, wait for it THIRTY FIVE THOUSAND POUND CAR. Yes £35,000. And for that I'm sorry you can get a decent Audi A4 Allroad (Also remember adding thousands of pounds worth of options is lost money as you do not get decent resale value on options, so the £7,000 or so needed to make this car decent is money down the drain - money you won't lose on an Audi with decent STANDARD spec. Or that won't have been lost if Škoda just based this on an Elegance instead of the poverty spec SE). I wanted one of these very much until I specified it to be as good as my current car. And I know a fair few people that went to test drive one, wanted one and when it got to the price walked straight over to Audi or Volvo and got a real premium car for their premium money. So sorry: game over Škoda.

A34

26 November 2014
NeufNeuf wrote:

... you will find this car is based on very humble Octavia SE origins. So miserly spec ...

Yes thats a common problem with Octavias these days - best as 2nd hand buys due to spec / price issues. I'm more impressed by the broker price on the Seat equivalent which is not far off Leon FR spec level and can be got for £20K... and looks better to boot. For the badge snobs the Golf version should be out soon which won't be value but might have better resell prices..

27 November 2014
NeufNeuf wrote:

you have a, wait for it THIRTY FIVE THOUSAND POUND CAR. Yes £35,000. And for that I'm sorry you can get a decent Audi A4 Allroad

I just specced up a CR184 Scout to match the Elegance kit, and it came to £32k. On Drive the Deal, though, they're offering them for under £28k with that spec.

I then had a go at an A4 Allroad, and to get it to the same spec (but with a less powerful engine, offset pedals and an older, clunkier satnav) was £35k.

If you're going to compare prices, compare them fairly - either both at list (which is £32k for the Scout, £43k for the Allroad) or both at broker (which is £28k for the Scout, £35k for the Allroad). All you've done is the classic con-job of comparing list price for a brand new car on the latest platform with a heavily-discounted price for an aging, slower competitor. Which will, even after that enormous "please take them off our hands, we've only sold seven" discount, depreciate at a terrifying rate when the new A4 appears in the very near future.

So sorry; game over Neufneuf.

27 November 2014
Sporky McGuffin wrote:

If you're going to compare prices, compare them fairly ....

So sorry; game over Neufneuf.

True I did slightly muddle things there. But I wanted an L&K spec and that IS £35,000 I'm sorry. So closer to £31,000 at a broker. Fair enough not quite ancient A4 Allroad money (at a broker) but still some VERY tasty Volvo XC60s, Audi Q3s and all manner of German premium cars available for similar money at the brokers. So sadly I maintain: game over Škoda. You're not a premium player just yet and you're asking premium money for your cars. They are good cars yes, with premium kit, but they do not have a premium badge even if based on VW bits.

27 November 2014
I looked at the audi q3 and it was teeny tiny in comparison to the scout, or even to my old Octavia hatch. When I comparison specced up either of the q3 or xc60, they were many thousands more than the scout.
I agree that skoda has gone upmarket and therefore it is likely to lose stalwart supporters, but for me, even my current Octavia is more comfortable than an a4, q3 or xc60.

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

 NeVeR L8te Smile

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.

27 November 2014
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.

2 December 2014
I cannot think of a more boring car or product line up.

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