For all of Skoda’s insistence that the Scala represents a bold new chapter in the evolutionary story of its design language – one supposedly defined by a greater focus on emotional appeal than ever before – in reality it seems to be far more conservative in its execution.
More than anything, the Scala suggests itself as a car intended to appeal to a more clinical, logical side of mind – a trait that has come to define the vast majority of Skoda’s products over the past few years, and which has brought it a good deal of success at that.
It is by no means an unattractive entrant into the hyper-competitive family hatch class, and its visual relationship to the purposefully styled and assertive Vision RS Concept revealed at last year’s Paris show is abundantly apparent. But next to the likes of the simultaneously classy and classless Golf and the more overtly dynamic-looking Focus, there isn’t a great deal about the Scala’s appearance that suggests it’s much of a harbinger for a more daring, stylistically driven era in the marque’s history. That seems like a missed opportunity.
All that said, Skoda has been rather daring in its approach to the Scala’s packaging. At 4362mm overall, it’s only marginally shorter than a Focus and longer than a Golf, yet it sits on an extended version of the Volkswagen Group’s MQB-A0 supermini platform – as opposed to the regular MQB architecture that underpins its internal rival.
This means two things: that the Scala is the first Skoda to use this latest-generation family of platforms and, more important, that it also comes with a more rudimentary suspension set-up. Where the Golf (and higher-spec versions of the Focus) rely on MacPherson struts at the front and an independent multilink arrangement at the back, the Scala employs a simple torsion beam across its rear. Selective damping is available optionally, although our test car went without.
Meanwhile, the engine line-up is comprised of a range of three and four-cylinder petrol engines as well as a sole diesel four-pot – all of which are mounted transversely and drive the front wheels. Our test car made use of the range-topping 1.5 TSI petrol, which develops 148bhp and 184lb ft. It also came equipped with an optional seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox in place of the standard six-speed manual.