Skoda Scala review

Category: Family car

The Scala represents fantastic value for money next to its family car peers

Red Skoda Scala front cornering
  • Red Skoda Scala front cornering
  • Red Skoda Scala rear cornering
  • Skoda Scala Monte Carlo interior dashboard
  • Skoda Scala boot open
  • Skoda Scala interior infotainment
  • Red Skoda Scala right driving
  • Red Skoda Scala front cornering
  • Red Skoda Scala front right driving
  • Red Skoda Scala front cornering
  • Red Skoda Scala front right static
  • Red Skoda Scala rear left static
  • Red Skoda Scala headlights detail
  • Red Skoda Scala Monte Carlo badge
  • Skoda Scala Monte Carlo steering wheel detail
  • Skoda Scala Monte Carlo interior detail
  • Red Skoda Scala front cornering
  • Red Skoda Scala rear cornering
  • Skoda Scala Monte Carlo interior dashboard
  • Skoda Scala boot open
  • Skoda Scala interior infotainment
  • Red Skoda Scala right driving
  • Red Skoda Scala front cornering
  • Red Skoda Scala front right driving
  • Red Skoda Scala front cornering
  • Red Skoda Scala front right static
  • Red Skoda Scala rear left static
  • Red Skoda Scala headlights detail
  • Red Skoda Scala Monte Carlo badge
  • Skoda Scala Monte Carlo steering wheel detail
  • Skoda Scala Monte Carlo interior detail
What Car?’s SCALA deals
New car deals
Save up to £1,905
Target Price from £20,597
Save up to £1,905
or from £220pm
Swipe to see used car deals
Nearly new deals
From £15,990

Introduction

What Car? says...

You rarely get something for nothing, so as cars become bigger and more sophisticated, they’re also becoming more expensive. Well, most of them are – the Skoda Scala is one of the potential exceptions to the rule.

The Scala is longer than a VW Golf but undercuts that family car along with all its main rivals. Better yet, it has been facelifted for 2024 and now looks sharper than before, and has a plusher interior with the latest tech from the VW Group (Skoda's parent company).

What’s more, Skoda hasn’t skimped on choice: the Scala is available with a wide choice of petrol engines along with three familiar trim levels – ranging from our preferred entry-level SE up to the flagship Monte Carlo model.

So is the Skoda Scala good enough to compete with the best family cars – including the playful Ford Focus and frugal Toyota Corolla – or should you look elsewhere?

Read on to find out how we rate it in all the important areas, from performance and handling to costs and practicality...

Overview

Don't discount the Skoda Scala on the basis that it's inexpensive. It ticks many of the boxes that some more expensive family cars fail to, with its supple ride, decent handling, good infotainment system, amazing rear seat space and vast boot. The interior of the facelifted 2024 car looks and feels comparable with that of a Ford Focus or Vauxhall Astra.

  • Comfortable ride and tidy handling
  • Spacious rear seats and a big boot
  • Cheap to buy and run
  • No hybrid option
  • So-so reliability record
  • Some rivals are more fun to drive
New car deals
Save up to £1,905
Target Price from £20,597
Save up to £1,905
or from £220pm
Swipe to see used car deals
Nearly new deals
From £15,990

Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox

​​The Skoda Scala engine range starts with a 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol that's available in two states of tune: 94bhp (TSI 95) and 113bhp (TSI 116).

The TSI 95 – which comes with a five-speed manual gearbox – is fine, but can feel a little flat. We recommend the TSI 116 because it has enough low-end shove to easily keep up with the flow of traffic (0-62mph takes 9.5 seconds) and it provides the Scala with greater overtaking power than a 1.0-litre Kia Ceed. The TSI 116 gets a six-speed manual gearbox, helping with refinement at speed.

If you have a bit more money to spend and are likely to carry a carload of people and luggage regularly, we'd completely understand if you stepped up to the 148bhp 1.5 TSI 150 petrol. With an official 0-62mph time of 8.2 seconds, it's usefully swift and matches a VW Golf 1.5 TSI 150 for pace.

Suspension and ride comfort

This is one of the better-riding family cars. It's far better at isolating you from razor-edged bumps and potholes than a Ford Focus or Mazda 3, but you have to put up with its soft and slightly wafty nature over gentler undulations.

For the best results, spec your Scala with the smallest – 16in – alloy wheels, which just happen to be standard on our favourite SE trim.

If you do go for one of the trims with larger wheels, fear not, the ride is still far from uncomfortable – you’ll just feel slightly more of a thud when driving over larger imperfections.

Skoda SCALA image
Skip the showroom and find out more online
Red Skoda Scala rear cornering

Handling

The Scala delivers more grip, come rain or shine, than the Mazda 3, and that grip is better balanced front to rear than it is in the Kia Ceed.

There's a fair amount of body lean, so while the Scala handles tidily, it never flits through bends as keenly as a Focus or Seat Leon (the benchmarks for enthusiastic drivers).

Still, there's a sense of precision to the Scala's steering and it builds weight progressively, giving you the confidence you need when guiding it along tight and twisty country lanes. Again, it just lacks the Focus's delicate and intricate sense of connection to the road.

Noise and vibration

Under hard acceleration, the three-cylinder 1.0 TSI engines transmit gentle vibrations through the pedals and steering wheel, but they settle down once you’re up to speed. The four-cylinder 1.5 TSI 150 petrol is smoother and quieter.

If you opt for a manual gearbox, the Scala is easy to drive in traffic, thanks to the predictable accelerator, brake and clutch actions. The optional automatic gearbox (if you go for the two more powerful engines) can be a little jerky when you're parking.

You'll hear more suspension noise than you would in the quietest family cars, while higher levels of wind and road noise put the Scala even further behind the best. If you fancy greater peace and quiet on the daily commute, try a Focus, a Mazda 3 or a Golf instead.

Driving overview

Strengths One of the most comfortable family cars; TSI 116 feels peppy enough; accurate steering

Weaknesses Ford Focus is more fun; VW Golf is quieter

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

Driving position and dashboard

The Skoda Scala gives you a wide range of steering-wheel adjustments, and you get driver's seat height adjustment as standard. Adjustable lumbar support is also standard on all trim levels, although the lever's location isn’t all that intuitive. 

If you go for entry-level SE trim, you’ll find a crisp 8.0in digital driver’s display behind the steering wheel, but it’s the 10in Virtual Cockpit that steals the show. Fitted as standard on all other trim levels, it’s superb and features crisp graphics and plenty of configurability.

Skoda has sensibly decided to keep traditional buttons and knobs for the climate controls. That makes them a breeze to operate while you're driving, especially compared with the fiddly touch-sensitive sliders in the VW Golf, and it's refreshing in a world where more and more rivals are loading such routine adjustments into their infotainment systems.

Visibility, parking sensors and cameras

Thanks to the Scala's relatively slim windscreen pillars, forward visibility is impressive. The rear pillars are thicker, but there's still an acreage of glass that makes your over-the-shoulder vision way better than it is in many rivals – including the Ford Focus, the Vauxhall Astra and, most strikingly, the Mazda 3, with its enclosed rear end.

Rear parking sensors are fitted as standard, while top-spec Monte Carlo trim adds a rear-view camera. Alternatively, if you go for SE or SE L, you can add front parking sensors and a rear-view camera as part of the optional "Convenience package".

All versions get ultra-bright LED dipped-beam headlights. On Monte Carlo cars, they're matrix LEDs, which can be left on full beam without dazzling other drivers, and you can pay extra to have the same on SE and SE L models.

Skoda Scala Monte Carlo interior dashboard

Sat nav and infotainment

The Scala's infotainment is one of the better systems in the family car class, and it's much better than the Golf's. 

All versions come with a high definition touchscreen display, but the size depends on which trim level you go for, with the SE’s measuring 8.25in and the others 9.2in. No matter which you pick you get some touch-sensitive shortcut buttons, but we’d still rather have a rotary infotainment controller like the one in the Mazda 3.

DAB radio, Bluetooth and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring are all standard, allowing you to run sat-nav apps and play your music from your mobile. That's good news because the entry-level version (our favourite) doesn’t come with built-in sat-nav.

Quality

The interior of the Scala has taken a step forward since its original launch. Many of the hard, scratchy plastics across the dashboard have been replaced with soft-touch materials and recycled fabrics. Meanwhile, the ‘Lodge’ interior that comes with SE L trim and up offers an even nicer mixture of materials. 

As a whole, the Scala feels well screwed together inside, but if you go searching for flimsy plastics you will find them as you venture lower down. If you want a truly luxurious interior, we’d point you in the direction of an Audi A3 or Mazda 3.

Interior overview

Strengths Good visibility; proper air-con buttons; great digital dials

Weaknesses Harder plastics lower in the interior

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

Front space

Even if you’re well over six feet tall, you won't feel your hair brushing the roof of the Skoda Scala, and the seats slide far enough back to accommodate anyone long in the leg.

The main difference between the Scala and many of its rivals – including the Kia Ceed, the Mazda 3 and the larger Skoda Octavia – is that it's narrower in the front. That means you and your passenger might feel a bit more cosy. 

Storage space for odds and ends is good, and includes generous front door pockets, a decent-sized glovebox, a cupholder in the centre console, a large drawer under the front seats and a sunglasses holder above the rear-view mirror. There's also a small cubby in front of the gearlever, which doubles as the area for the optional wireless phone charging pad.

Rear space

Rear space is one of the Scala's greatest attributes. Leg and head room are exceedingly generous for the class – beating even the spacious Ford Focus – and is up there with the Seat Leon and the Octavia.

There’s plenty of foot space under the front seats, and the cushy headrests help your passengers to kick back happily and relax. Although the interior is narrower than in some family cars, none of the Scala’s rivals is wide enough to fit three adults in the back without a modicum of shoulder rubbing.

There's space for oddments too, with two map pockets and two door bins. A rear armrest is standard with SE L and Monte Carlo trims.

Skoda Scala boot open

Seat folding and flexibility

You get a height-adjustable passenger seat and lumbar adjustment as standard, but the recent facelift has removed the option of an electrically adjustable driver’s seat, which is a shame.

The Scala’s rear seatbacks fold in a conventional 60/40 split. Unlike in the Octavia, there are no release levers in the boot itself. That means you have to walk round, open the rear doors and press the buttons at the top of the rear seats, instead of being able to drop the seats while you're at the boot opening.

Go for range-topping Monte Carlo trim and you can add an optional electrically operated boot lid, adding some extra convenience.

Boot space

With the rear seats in their upright positions, the Scala can take more luggage in its 467-litre boot than a Ford Focus or VW Golf. It can manage up to seven carry-on suitcases below its parcel shelf, against six and five respectively for those two rivals.

That means the Scala's boot capacity will be plenty for most people, but it’s worth noting that the physically larger Octavia is even more capacious if boot space is at the top of your list of requirements.

The Scala’s boot is a useful square shape and has plenty of bag hooks, while the load lip is manageably low if you put the optional (and highly recommended) adjustable boot floor in its higher setting. Doing that also smooths out the step left in the floor when you fold down the rear seats.

Practicality overview

Strengths Roomy in the front and rear; lots of in-car storage space; big boot

Weaknesses Narrow in the front; seats don't do anything clever

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2

Despite recently receiving a comprehensive mid-life facelift, the Skoda Scala remains one of the cheapest ways into a good family hatchback. If you stick with our recommended SE trim level, an equivalently equipped Ford Focus will cost you thousands more – especially if you check out our Skoda Scala deals before you buy.

Fuel economy is also a Scala strength. You can expect to see more than 40mpg in the real world from the 1.0 TSI 110 (that's better than a 1.0-litre Kia Ceed). Even the 1.5 TSI 150 shouldn't break the bank.

With its low P11D price and sensible CO2 emissions, the Scala is also a fairly cost-effective choice as a company car because the BIK tax payments are reasonably low. We say "fairly cost-effective" because there are no hybrid, plug-in hybrid (PHEV) or electric car versions of the Scala to really push down company car tax.

Equipment, options and extras

Our recommended Scala SE trim level gives you all the basics, including 16in alloy wheels, dual-zone air conditioning, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear knob, a front centre armrest, cruise control, automatic lights and wipers and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror.

Mid-spec SE L trim is worth considering for its infotainment upgrades, but it also adds bigger 17in wheels and privacy glass. Top-spec Monte Carlo, meanwhile, offers a sportier look, 18in wheels, sports front seats, a heated steering wheel, keyless entry and a panoramic sunroof. 

What’s more, all versions come with Skoda's "Simply Clever" features, which aim to make life easier. They include a parking ticket holder mounted on the windscreen pillar, an umbrella stowed away in a compartment in the driver's door, an ice scraper/tyre tread depth gauge inside the fuel filler cap and a cap for the screen-wash bottle that unfolds and turns into a funnel.

Skoda Scala interior infotainment

Reliability

The pre-facelift Scala had a rather disappointing performance in the 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey – finishing towards the bottom of a list of 29 family cars. 

Skoda as a brand did better, finishing 16th out of 32 manufacturers in the brands section of the survey, above Ford, Seat and Volkswagen, but way below Kia.

Mechanical faults are covered for three years, with unlimited mileage for the first two and up to 60,000 miles in the third. That's comparable with most rivals but is beaten by the five-year warranties offered by Renault, Hyundai and Toyota, and the seven years Kia provides.

Safety and security

In safety tests, Euro NCAP gave the Scala five stars overall. However, its individual category scores aren't quite up there with the best family cars, such as the Mazda 3. The organisation found that the Scala represents a slightly higher risk of injury to adult and child occupants, as well as pedestrians, in an accident.

Standard safety kit on the Scala includes lane-keeping assistance, automatic emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection, traffic sign recognition and seven airbags. The airbag count is raised to nine if you spec the optional driver’s kneebag and rear side airbags.

An optional safety package includes a feature called Crew Protect Assist, which automatically closes open windows and immediately tightens the front seat belts in the event of an imminent collision. For more, there’s also a "Travel Assist" option package which adds Adaptive Cruise Control, blind-spot assist and Adaptive Lane Assist.

Costs overview

Strengths Cheap relative to rivals; frugal petrol engines; plenty of attractive and well-priced options

Weaknesses Hybrid rivals are more efficient; so-so reliability record

For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here

FAQs

  • If you like the look of the Scala, you might also want to look at family cars including the Ford Focus, Mazda 3, Vauxhall Astra and VW Golf.

  • The Skoda Octavia and the Scala are both in the family car category, but the Octavia is bigger, at 4689mm in length compared with 4362mm for the Scala.

  • No, the Skoda Scala is a family car like the Ford Focus. If you fancy a Skoda SUV, you might instead want to look at the Skoda Kamiq.

At a glance
New car deals
Save up to £1,905
Target Price from £20,597
Save up to £1,905
or from £220pm
Swipe to see used car deals
Nearly new deals
From £15,990
RRP price range £22,105 - £30,455
Number of trims (see all)3
Number of engines (see all)3
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)petrol
MPG range across all versions 50.4 - 55.4
Available doors options 5
Warranty 3 years / 60000 miles
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £1,179 / £1,750
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £2,358 / £3,501
Available colours