The engine line-up comprises a selection of VW Group’s transversely mounted TDI and TSI units, all of either three or four cylinders. A 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol is available with 94bhp or 113bhp, while the four-cylinder 1.5-litre TSI driven here tops the range with 148bhp. The only diesel is a 1.6-litre with 114bhp, and depending on which engine you choose, Skoda is offering either five or six-speed manual gearboxes or a seven-speed dual-clutcher. A 1.0-litre 89bhp version powered by natural gas is due at the end of 2019, though whether or not it will be offered in the UK is unknown.
What is the Scala like inside the cabin?
Slide into the Scala and there are plenty of reminders these cars are built to a cost. The window switches are clearly old stock from the VW parts bin, and there’s a degree of play in the buttons on the transmission tunnel that’s just a little too pronounced. You get a proper, old-school handbrake (a good thing, perhaps) and almost every surface below chest-height is made of the scratchy, textured plastic that’s been chased almost entirely from the Scala’s posher cousins.
Not that any of this should be considered a deal-breaker. For the money Skoda asks for the Scala – just £16,595 for the entry-level 1.0 S – this is a nice cabin, with a thoughtful design and very strong ergonomics. The dashboard has a fair bit of interest to it and mirrors the Scala’s rakish new face, and our test car’s red pinstripes give the place a lift. Neither is it difficult to find a good driving position. Visibility is also excellent thanks to substantial C-pillar cut-outs, and the optional 9.2in (and commendably crisp) central display of our test car is mounted usefully high – in line with the optional digital instrument binnacle. In short it’s spacious, comfortable and unpretentious, and very Skoda.
Exceptionally spacious, in fact, not least because this is a long wheelbase for the class – 10cm longer even than a Golf. You’ll get a six-foot passenger sitting behind a similarly tall driver without issue, and rear headroom is unusually generous, even with the optional, full-length panoramic roof. Unless you’re in the middle seat, that is; here both the seat base and back protrude awkwardly, and so it’s a berth best left for children.
In truth, you might well get away with the Scala if your original plan was to buy something Golf Estate-sized. The boot is cavernous – class-leadingly so, at 467 litres with the rear seats up – with a low lip and square sides.
Then, of course, there’s Simply Clever, which is Skoda-speak for all the useful things most manufacturers forget or chose to ignore. The ticket-holder mounted on the A-pillar is a classic of the genre, but in the Scala the cap for the screen-wash also folds out to become a funnel, and there’s an ice-scraper that doubles up as a tread-depth gauge stored within the fuel-filler cap. Much more useful than logo-projecting door lights, we say, and far more endearing.
How does the Scala perform on the road?
Like the interior, the driving experience is unpretentious. Don’t expect much in the way of weight or feel through the controls, but the combination of this VW-sourced 1.5-litre four-cylinder TSI and dual-clutch gearbox is predictably slick, if not quite the most clinical around. You get a slight rattle on ignition, but thereafter progress is easy-going and impressively refined, at least so far as the powertrain is concerned. This is a nice gearbox calibration, being neither too keen to bolt for the highest, most economical gear possible nor desperate to downshift unnecessarily under power. Overtaking is a cinch, too, so long as you anticipate when to make your move.