2019 Skoda Scala prototype review - price, specs and release date

The upcoming Skoda Scala is a more upmarket replacement for the Rapid; we've driven a prototype to see how it's shaping up...

2019 Skoda Scala prototype front

Priced from £16,500 (est) | Release date April 2019

Skoda models are a favourite with What Car? testers. Over the years, we’ve seen a variety of models do well in our annual awards. The Superb Estate and Octavia were victorious in their respective classes last year, while the Fabia small car was overall Car of the Year in 2000 and 2015. The secret to their success is a combination of a comfortable ride, impressive practicality and excellent value for money.

But one model that has broadly flown under the radar is the Rapid. Sitting between the Octavia and Fabia, the budget-oriented Rapid occupies an awkward space in the line-up and hasn’t ever really been considered a serious contender for popular family hatchbacks such as the Ford Focus or Vauxhall Astra. Blame a cheap-feeling interior, choppy ride and limited range of engines for that.

Skoda hopes that is all about to change. The Scala, which is an indirect replacement for the Rapid, will go on sale next year. It will get a new design, bigger dimensions and a new interior, along with innovative technology not yet seen in this size of car.

Unlike its cheap but not so cheerful predecessor, it’s a direct competitor for the big names of the family hatchback class, a move that Skoda hopes will make it a much bigger player in the still-growing sector.

2019 Skoda Scala prototype rear

2019 Skoda Scala on the road

The Scala will be fully revealed in December, but in the meantime, we’ve got behind the wheel of an early example to see how it’s shaping up.

Although it's a prototype, there’s little sign that this isn’t ready to go on sale. The Scala feels, well, exactly like existing, highly commended Skodas, and that's exactly what the car maker wants.

The ride is comfortable on Czech roads that are sometimes as craggy as the UK’s. There’s an optional Sport Chassis set-up that lowers the car by 15mm and makes the ride firmer, but it’s not expected to be hugely popular in the UK.

The steering is light, if vague, but effortless all the same, while handling is more than respectable for this kind of car. Keen drivers will prefer the way the Ford Focus handles, but for the average Scala buyer, this all-round relaxed set-up will suffice.

We drove the 148bhp 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol model, which is expected to be the biggest seller in the UK. It’s a smooth engine with ample power, so it's well worth considering. There will also be a more frugal 1.0-litre turbo petrol and a 1.6-litre diesel.

Skoda Scala badge

2019 Skoda Scala prototype interior

Big things are promised for the Scala’s interior, but for now, they remain a secret. In our prototype, the dashboard and infotainment system were covered in tape. We do know it will bear a strong resemblance to the interior of the recently revealed Vision RS concept, though.

It will also introduce a new generation of infotainment systems to the Skoda line-up. In the Scala’s case, that includes an optional 9.2in touchscreen, along with a 10.2in digital instrument display. Conventional dials remain for temperature settings.

Connectivity has been a focus for the Scala. As well as four USB-C sockets, it provides over-the-air updates for maps, web apps and internet radio. It’s also the first Skoda to be permanently online, thanks to an in-built SIM card.

The Scala has had a growth spurt over the Rapid, with rear leg room beating rivals such as the Focus and Astra. Six-footers will be happy with both head and leg room in the rear.

Even better is boot space. Its 467 litres easily trumps its main competitors, although it’s still some way behind Skoda’s own Octavia. Plus there are numerous nets and a variable-height boot floor for added storage solutions.

Next: 2019 Skoda Scala Prototype verdict >