Skoda Scala long-term test review: report 5
With its all-new Skoda Scala, the Czech brand is going head to head with some of the UK's most popular cars. Does it have what it takes to win over the youngest member of our team?...
The car: Skoda Scala 1.0 TSI 115 SE
Run by: Kris Culmer, sub-editor
Why it’s here: To provide a credible budget alternative to the Golf as the Volkswagen moves upmarket for its next generation
Needs to: Show that a budget family hatchback doesn’t have to feel its price
Mileage 9783 Price £18,585 Target Price £18,205 Price as tested £21,085 Test economy 57.0mpg Official economy 49.6mpg (WLTP combined)
3 December – Taking stock
“You know, you seem really in tune with this car,” a colleague recently remarked as I gave him a lift in to work. I hadn’t really thought about it, but it made me realise that I do feel at home in my Skoda Scala.
By that, I mean I very quickly came to learn how to treat its engine and manual gearbox in order to give their best performance – a process made easy by the polish with which they have been engineered.
The same goes for the steering, which is neither too heavy, as if it were mimicking a sports car’s, nor confidence-sappingly light. It’s precise, too. Every rival is somewhere on the spectrum; getting it near the sweet spot isn’t easy. This links up with handling that’s predictable; although scant feedback is sent up to the wheel, you still know at which point through a turn understeer will begin to set in.
Now, don’t get me wrong; the Scala isn’t a car that enthusiastic drivers should be rushing out to test drive. In the family hatchback class, that would have to be the Ford Focus. But there’s definitely some reward to be mined.
Hang on a minute, this sounds familiar… ah, yes, that’s it. I’ve also experienced all of the above, to a lesser or greater degree, when driving any other affordable model that's based on the Volkswagen Group’s MQB underpinnings. The Audi A3, Seat Ibiza, Leon, Arona and Ateca, the Skoda Octavia, Volkswagen Golf, Polo… It just shows you that if you nail the basics, the rest shall follow.
In other news, misfortune once again befell me this month. There was a breakdown in the outside lane of the motorway; I slowed down and stopped in time, but the driver behind me didn’t. Having been hit at around 20mph, I expected quite a bit of damage. But when I went around the back, grimacing, there was just barely visible warping of the plastic rear bumper, and one of the rear parking sensors had been pushed in from its mounting.
This has highlighted to me just how shockingly reliant I have become on this technology; parking without the reassuring noises in my ears, once not even a consideration, is now very nerve-wracking indeed, despite the car's good over-the-shoulder visibility. Just another reason why I’d suggest rising above sensorless entry-level S trim for your Scala.