Scout’s an all-ac­tion hero

Warwickshire Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE - By Peter Keenan

SKODA faces a tough task with the Oc­tavia Scout Es­tate. It has to con­vince bright young things, who need a mo­tor prac­ti­cal enough to han­dle the school run and cool enough to take to the beach or moun­tain­top, not to choose one of the many SUV cross­over mod­els cur­rently more pop­u­lar than Ant and Dec.

The Czech mo­tor man­u­fac­turer’s re­sponse is a qual­ity of­fer­ing that can take on the SUV hordes and strike a blow for tra­di­tion.

For this Scout is no boy, but rather a tough all-ac­tion hero fea­tur­ing four-wheel drive and a raised ride height – giv­ing gen­uine off-road ca­pa­bil­ity – as well as a cave-like bootspace ca­pa­ble of ac­com­mo­dat­ing the most out­ward bound of fam­i­lies.

The Haldex-5 all-wheel drive sys­tem and multi-mode drive con­trol give the es­tate the tools to live up to its name mak­ing it com­fort­able in the coun­try­side and pre­pared for any­thing.

That’s not to say it is rough on the road or ex­pen­sive to run as un­der nor­mal con­di­tions front-wheel drive is em­ployed – so sav­ing fuel – with the es­tate civilised to drive both around town and on the mo­tor­way de­spite its rugged ap­pear­ance.

When con­di­tions worsen though, the clever elec­tron­ics recog­nise when grip is be­ing lost and sends power to the rear wheels to in­crease trac­tion with wheel­spin kept to a min­i­mum.

The Scout sits more than an inch higher than the nor­mal Oc­tavia Es­tate and is fit­ted with un­der­body ar­mour and added pro­tec­tion around the wheel arches as well as chunky front and rear skid plates.

Other styling clues to its off-road pre­ten­sions in­clude black plas­tic trim for the sills, bumpers and whee­larches while sil­ver roof rails and splashes of chrome give it an up­mar­ket feel.

The cu­mu­la­tive ef­fect of this is to make the Scout vis­ually impressive with a ready-for-any­thing at­ti­tude.

The in­te­rior is sim­i­larly no-non­sense with a sim­ple lay­out fea­tur­ing all mod cons such as cli­mate con­trol and satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion. Crea­ture com­forts such as al­catara and leather up­hol­stery fea­tur­ing Scout lo­gos are in­cluded, as are tinted rear win­dows. The likes of 17-inch al­loys and lane de­par­ture warn­ing sys­tems also make a welcome ap­pear­ance on the stan­dard is­sue list with op­tional ex­tras in­clud­ing front and rear park­ing sen­sors at £350,heated front seats at £250 and an ad­vanced con­nec­tiv­ity sys­tem which in­cludes Wi-Fi and a full colour trip com­puter dis­play cost­ing £1,050.

There’s plenty of room to get com­fort­able front and back while lug­gage space starts at 590 litres with all the seats in use, ex­pand­ing to 1,580 when the rear ones are folded.

Driven by the less pow­er­ful of the 2.0-litre diesel en­gines avail­able – there’s also a 184ps ver­sion – the car I spent the week with was nev­er­the­less no slouch with 62mph hit from a stand­ing start in a shade over nine sec­onds on the way to a top speed of 129mph with the help of a slick six-speed man­ual gear­box.

In the bat­tle with the all-con­quer­ing crossovers the Scout does in­flict sub­stan­tial dam­age when it comes to run­ning costs as it boasts a fuel econ­omy fig­ure of 58.9mpg and emis­sions of 125g/km.

In the real world the Scout was get­ting about 50 to the gal­lon which is pretty good for what is a big mo­tor boast­ing a 1.8-tonne tow­ing ca­pac­ity.

It all adds up to a fam­ily-friendly pack­age that is well kit­ted out and able to han­dle the mud when re­quired.

TEST DRIVE SKODA OC­TAVIA SCOUT

MODEL: Skoda Oc­tavia Scout Es­tate PRICE: £25,700 ME­CHAN­I­CAL: 150ps, 1968cc, 4cyl diesel en­gine driv­ing all wheels via 6-speed man­ual gear­box MAX SPEED: 129mph 0-62MPH: 9.1 sec­onds COM­BINED MPG: 58.9 IN­SUR­ANCE GROUP: 20 CO2 EMIS­SIONS: 125g/km BIK RAT­ING: 25% WAR­RANTY: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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