Per­for­mance, prac­ti­cal­ity, com­fort and lower run­ning costs earn the Scout top spot in our test

Auto Express - - Road tests -

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”

score 3.7

score 4.0

score 4.2

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