Scout’s an all-action hero
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