Skoda Scout makes a load of sense
■ If today’s sports utility vehicles are the winkle-pickers (Google it) of the automotive world, all-wheeldrive wagons are the lace-up brogues; what your mother might call “sensible shoes”.
For those with a little history, think Sean Connery, rather than Johnny Depp; ruggedly handsome, against off-beat and quirky. The Skoda Octavia Scout is a perfect example of the former.
When it first came out in Australia Skoda trod lightly with the allwheel-drive wagon, bringing in only a 2.0-litre diesel manual version.
Now the Czech company, part of the Volkswagen Group, has decided to stride out and add a petrol variant, as well as an automatic diesel, Down Under.
The new Scout comes at greatly reduced prices. Starting at $32,990, plus on-road costs for the 110TDI, the 132TSI is $38,590 and the rangetopping 135TDI $41,390.
New Octavia Scout maintains the robust character of its predecessor. There’s no missing the bold Scout-only bumpers and added body protection. The radiator grille now carries the Scout badge.
The vehicle is 4685mm long, making it 101mm longer than its predecessor.
The 100mm longer wheelbase (2679mm against 2577mm) emphasises the new Scout’s filled-out proportions.
Front overhang, now 899mm as opposed to 925mm, gives it a more rough-road ability.
Importantly, ground clearance has been raised to 171mm — 31mm more than the standard Octavia.
The profile of the 225/50 R17 tyres on the 17-inch alloy wheels is higher too.
There are protective plastic covers for under body components as well as the brakes and fuel lines.
Increased exterior dimensions leave more space inside the cabin.
Compared with the previous Scout, boot volume has grown by eight litres to 588 litres.
Folding down the rear seats boosts boot capacity to a remarkable 1718 litres, from 1620 litres.
Using a drawbar, the rear backseats can be conveniently folded down from the boot.
For the first time, the cargo compartment is fitted with a doublesided floor mat. For normal use, a high-quality carpet provides a look of prestige. Flipping the mat exposes a dirt and water repellent surface to carry muddy sports equipment or potted plants.
A cargo fastener is a new optional feature.
The 135TDI test car, over the base 110TDI, benefits from an eightinch touch screen and Columbus satellite navigation system with integrated audio including Bluetooth and streaming, USB, aux and SD card slots and eight speakers.
On offer is an 110kW diesel engine combined with a six-speed manual transmission and a choice of either a 135kW diesel or 132kW petrol engine coupled with a sixspeed automatic dual-clutch DSG transmission. The new Scout 4x4 has advanced all-wheel-drive technology based on a fifth-generation Haldex clutch and electronic differential lock. Nine airbags in interaction with three-point seat belts protect the occupants from injuries. The 135TDI features assistance systems such as Multi-Collision Brake and Fatigue Detection.
The Multi-Collision Brake automatically slows the vehicle after a collision is detected, even if the driver no longer presses the brake pedal, to avoid a further collision, or the speed at which any other collision may take place is reduced.
Road noise was kept to a minimum, adding to a feeling of wellbeing for up to five occupants.
Instruments were clear and concise and positioned to give the front seat passenger a share of the info available to the driver. The comprehensive range of controls, with a nod to Audi/VW, was intuitive.
Skoda claims fuel consumption of 5.3 litres per 100km. Weight savings and the use of stronger steel have given the wagon an even more solid ride and improved handling.
Skoda’s Octavia Scout maintains the robust character of its predecessor and is more affordable.
The Scout’s instruments are clear and concise.