You’d stop short of calling the car agile in a class that contains the Ford Focus among others, but it’s certainly willing enough. Although steering centre-feel could be better, motorway stability is more than adequate, making this an easy car to drive at sustained speed. It’s when the surface of the road deteriorates that the car’s suspension begins to come up short of fine dexterity, and at that point the consistency of the connection between tyre and Tarmac can quite quickly disappear, making the car seem a bit skittish – although generally always stable.
It proved a little beyond the abilities of the Scala’s chassis to deal with the biggest gradient changes and toughest surfaces of Millbrook’s Hill Route with either the composure of a Volkswagen Golf or the poised immediacy of a Ford Focus.
On smooth surfaces the Skoda handles fairly well, with greater directness and zest than an Octavia typically has, although not entirely without body roll. Grip is respectably high and remains well balanced between the car’s axles as you progress through a corner. Meantime, the car’s electronic stability and traction aids act quite subtly and progressively when they intervene, and so unless you’re very aggressive or ambitious with the car, you’re unlikely to notice their intervention.
Over broken surfaces and the Hill Route’s transmission bumps, however, the Scala’s suspension proves to be quite easily disturbed and, after bigger inputs, a little underdamped for rebound.
COMFORT AND ISOLATION
It’s here that the shortcomings associated with the Scala’s extended supermini platform and basic torsion beam suspension architecture begin to make themselves felt. While it rides in a largely composed and controlled enough fashion on smoothly surfaced motorways and A-roads, on faster country lanes this civility starts to fall short.
There’s a perceptible lack of finesse to the way the Scala deals with rippled, pockmarked Tarmac, on which the rear axle in particular not only becomes noticeably animated as it battles to absorb and control the resulting shocks and intrusions, but noisy too. While it would be heavy-handed to say this heightened secondary choppiness is a dealbreaker, it’s a plain example of an area where the Scala falls short next to the Golf and the Focus, with their more grown up platforms and multilink suspension systems.
It’s not all bad news, though. While the Scala might lack some of the composure of its VW Group siblings, it isn’t deficient in terms of seating comfort. The front pews offer modest bolstering both for thighs and torso and can be adjusted for height. The steering column can be adjusted for both rake and reach, while visibility out of the cabin itself is perfectly agreeable. Rear parking sensors come in handy when manoeuvring into tight urban car parks, too.