1st SKODA OCTAVIA
Performance, practicality, comfort and lower running costs earn the Scout top spot in our test
THE Octavia Scout adds to the appeal of Skoda’s family estate by featuring even more usability no matter what the conditions. As with the Leon X-perience, the range is limited to just two engines – both 2.0-litre TDIS with either 148bhp or 181bhp. It’s the more efficient, lower-powered model that we test here, which gets four-wheel drive and a six-speed manual gearbox as part of the package.
We wouldn’t recommend spending the extra £2,795 on the higher-powered diesel, which also gets a DSG dual-clutch automatic gearbox, because this 148bhp version offers more than enough performance for most situations.
In fact, in the torrential conditions on test the Skoda still went quicker than its claimed 0-60mph time, taking 8.0 seconds over the benchmark test. Strong traction off the line thanks to its four-wheeldrive system helped here, but the punchy engine’s 340Nm of torque produced relatively low down at 1,750rpm ensured it was quick enough.
It took 10. 2 seconds to accelerate between 50 and 70mph in sixth, highlighting its relative flexibility. It’s better to use the torque and let the engine pull because it’s not the most refined unit when you push the revs. However, the same applies to the SEAT, which uses the same engine.
Where the two differ is in the chassis. The Skoda is much more supple and compliant over rough tarmac, with its 17-inch wheels and taller tyres offering a softer edge to the ride compared with the larger 18-inch alloys on the Leon.
There’s a very slight trade-off when it comes to handling, as the taller Octavia rolls a little more, while the steering isn’t quite as precise. However, at normal speeds on pitted UK roads it’s not that noticeable as the Scout feels planted and secure. The less jittery ride will also be more welcomed by occupants on longer journeys, where the extra comfort will help improve its cruising ability.
Another factor that’ll boost its appeal over the SEAT is the Skoda’s practicality. It has a bigger boot at 610 litres compared with the Leon’s 587-litre load bay. The difference is because the body and wheelbase are slightly longer, which also means more room inside for passengers.
Those occupants get a decent level of kit to play with, too, as the Scout sits towards the top end of the Octavia Estate line-up. Full LED headlights, upgraded infotainment with sat-nav, heated leather and Alcantara seats, cruise and climate control, Bluetooth and parking sensors are all standard. There isn’t much call for any options, unless you want a different paint colour.
“This 148bhp version offers more than enough performance for most situations”