A TOP RIDE, SCOUT’S HON­OUR

OC­TAVIA’S BADGE OF EX­CEL­LENCE

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Drive Way - Bill Buys

MZURI sana: words Lord Baden-Pow­ell would surely have said had he been around to see Skoda's lat­est and fi­nal ad­di­tion to its Oc­tavia range.

The fa­mous founder of the scout move­ment, in 1909, died in Kenya in 1941. He was flu­ent in Swahili, in which mzuri sana means 'very good.'

The spa­cious high-rise new Scout 4x4s are not SUVs, rather stylish wag­ons that come in three mod­els, a new 1.8litre petrol turbo 132TSI and a pair of diesels, both con­sid­er­ably im­proved over their ear­lier ver­sions.

The 110TDI has marginally more power, but 16 per cent more torque and the 135TDI puts out 31 per cent more power, 19 per cent more torque and both en­gines are 13 per cent more fuel ef­fi­cient than their fore­bears.

All drive the wheels through the lat­est ( fifth) gen­er­a­tion Haldex clutch.

As well, prices have been cut by about $7000, and there's a new fi­nance deal that guar­an­tees the car's fu­ture value.

Prices start at $32,990 for the 110TDI, which has a six-speed man­ual trans­mis­sion, go to $38,590 for the 132TSI and $41,390 for the 135TDI; both get six-speed dual-clutch au­to­mat­ics.

Stan­dard on all are re­verse cam­eras and rear park­ing sen­sors, day­time run­ning lights, nine airbags, the full suite of elec­tronic driver aids, in­clud­ing an elec­tronic diff lock, fog­lights, fa­tigue de­tec­tion, multi-func­tion trip com­puter, a dou­ble-sided cargo mat; but no com­pass.

That ar­chaic item, part of any scout's DNA, has been up­dated and re­placed with satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion, with in­te­grated au­dio in­clud­ing Blue­tooth au­dio and stream­ing, USB, AUX and a cou­ple of card slots.

Scouts sit 33mm taller than other Oc­tavias, which apart from the greater ground clear­ance, make it eas­ier to get into and out of, add a tad more com­fort, and pro­vide a bet­ter view, all good for campers, folk with bad backs, driv­ers fo­cused on safety and any­one who needs a strong, fine-han­dling ve­hi­cle with loads of space and clean styling.

Scouts are eas­ily iden­ti­fied by the bright tri-split skid­plate un­der the chrome-sur­round grille and their 17-inch alloy wheels, which come in a no-cost choice of two de­signs. The skid­plate runs un­der the Scout's belly too, pro­tect­ing vi­tal bits from off-road mis­ad­ven­tures.

The im­pres­sively quiet in­te­rior is very pleas­ant, good seat­ing front and rear, with gen­er­ous space, es­pe­cially in the back, which also gets air vents. Some mod­els have al­can­tara up­hol­stery.

The dash is a study of un­der­stated el­e­gance, matt black, with a cen­tral colour info screen and the main di­als with clear white nu­mer­als.

There's a lot of stor­age space; the boot, with a self-open­ing door, is a cav­ernous 588 litres, ex­pand­able via flip-down rear seat back­rests.

We drove the base diesel man­ual and the new 132TSI at the Scout's launch on the twists and turns, ups and downs, sealed and dirt of Tas­ma­nia's best roads and were more than happy with both.

The ex­tra ride height had no ef­fect on dy­nam­ics, and if any­thing, im­proved the com­fort fac­tor.

We barely felt the bumps and the oc­ca­sional switch from two to four-wheel drive was un­de­tectably smooth.

The spot-on steer­ing, strong brakes, sta­bil­ity con­trol, great sus­pen­sion and grippy Con­ti­nen­tal tyres added up to an ex­cel­lent driv­ing pack­age.

The eco­nom­i­cal man­ual diesel was a de­light, and will prob­a­bly be favoured by hands-on driv­ers, but the more pow­er­ful petrol job had a de­cided edge in per­for­mance, with a stab of the loud pedal eas­ily send­ing its mo­tor into 6500rpm red­line territory.

The diesel gets to 100km/h in 9.1 sec­onds and av­er­ages 5.3litres/100km, the petrol stops the clock at 7.8 sec­onds and re­turns 7.1litres/100km. All com­mend­able.

The trio of Scouts are pretty com­pre­hen­sively equipped.

But there are the in­evitable op­tional 'pack­ages' for buy­ers who want ex­tra speak­ers, cruise con­trol, swiv­el­ling head­lights and such­like.

Ver­dict: Ndio, amzuri sana pack­age at prices well be­low those of the very sim­i­larly equipped Pas­sat All­track and Audi All­road of­fer­ings.

Lord Baden-Pow­ell would have been might­ily im­pressed. Scout's hon­our. Ndio? It means Yes.

Oc­tavia Scout

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