DRIV­ING

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Road Test Skoda Octavia Scout -

IT’S a bit on the pricey side, but the Scout is a con­vinc­ing pack­age. You can’t take it very far off the beaten track, but this Skoda is a sen­si­ble cross­over wagon when it comes to city streets and coun­try roads. It is ex­tremely good on dirt tracks, too. That said, it is a big blow that the Scout is avail­able with only a diesel en­gine and man­ual trans­mis­sion. There is noth­ing wrong with the trans­mis­sion — it has a light clutch and a pre­cise feel, but this would be an es­pe­cially nice car to drive in au­to­matic.

This diesel has a lot of pulling power once the turbo spools up. It is a bit dead un­til about 1800 revs, when it re­ally kicks in. That lasts un­til about 3000 revs, when it’s time to change gears.

So it works well, but you need to change gears a fair bit.

It is happy cruis­ing at high­way speeds, the en­gine tick­ing over at about 1700 revs at 100km/h.

Fuel con­sump­tion is im­pres­sive. The test car used a lit­tle less than 7 litres for 100km.

There is a rea­son­able amount of diesel clat­ter at idle and low speeds.

Han­dling is a strong point and it be­comes clear this is car-based cross­over as soon as you start press­ing along a twisty road.

There is not much body roll and the Scout shows a sur­pris­ing level of agility.

It is also re­mark­ably com­posed on open dirt roads. Be­cause the sus­pen­sion is a bit firm it picks up small im­per­fec­tions on well­made roads.

The tyres also make a fair racket on coarse- chip roads, though they are OK on smooth tar­mac.

The Scout’s in­te­rior is what you ex­pect from a car closely re­lated to Volk­swa­gens. It doesn’t look ex­cit­ing, but it has a qual­ity feel, and the con­trols are easy to use.

One odd stand­out is the passenger grab han­dle on the dash, like those in se­ri­ous 4WDs. It is a silly fea­ture to have on a mild cross­over and looks out of place.

There is a lot of room in­side — leg, head­room and cargo space. Fea­tures in­clude dual-zone cli­mate con­trol and seat warm­ers.

If you don’t mind chang­ing gears and are happy with a diesel, the Scout is well worth a look.

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