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.