The Scala’s supermini platform and its torsion beam rear suspension put it at a notional dynamic disadvantage, but it’s to the credit of Skoda’s chassis engineers that the car only really allows that to translate into any serious perceptible shortcoming in the way the car rides (which we’ll come to shortly).
The steering is surprisingly lightly weighted and short on feel – and since it offers no selectable drive modes as standard by which you might weight it up, it’ll be that way unless you’re willing to pay extra for lowered suspension and selective damping. Still, that’s the only bugbear a keener driver might have to complain about here. There’s enough precision and responsiveness about this car to give the Scala a relative selling point compared to the bigger, softer Octavia and to make it competitive with the hatchback class’s prevailing dynamic standard. As far as average family five-doors go, the Scala conducts itself respectably well.
Body control is present but contained, and lateral grip levels are moderately good. The car feels narrower within typical British lane-markings than an Octavia, too, and so it’s easy to place in a corner, and although it rolls a little bit as the chassis loads up, it stays true to a line and grips fairly well.
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.