Driving position and dashboard
There’s a wide range of steering wheel adjustment and the seat is reasonably comfortable. You get height and lumbar adjustment as standard, although some of our testers commented that the seat is a little narrow and lacks side support. Seat comfort can be subjective, though, so do try before you buy.
Range-topping SE L models replace conventional analogue instruments with a 12.3in digital screen. This can be set up to display a multitude of information in a clear and concise fashion, and because Skoda has sensibly decided to keep traditional buttons and knobs for all the major features — including the climate control — you won't find the Scala's dashboard difficult or distracting to use on the go.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
Thanks to relatively slim windscreen pillars, front visibility is impressive. And while the rear pillars are thicker, there's enough open glass to make your over-the-shoulder vision way better than it is in many rivals, including the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra and especially the enclosed rear of the Mazda 3. Rear parking sensors are standard but front parking sensors and a rear-view camera add up to a fairly hefty premium.
All trims come with LED dipped headlights (full LED headlights that include the main beams are optional), which are far more illuminating at night than the dimmer halogen bulbs than cheaper versions of rivals like the Ceed offer.
Sat nav and infotainment
The Mazda 3's rotary controller is less distracting to use while driving than trying to hit an icon on the Scala's touchscreen. And, while the shortcut buttons around the screen are helpful for swapping menus, they also prove more diverting to use on the go than physical buttons would — that’s because you can learn to use physical buttons by feel without taking your eyes off the road. Other than those issues the Scala's infotainment one of the better systems in the class.
Entry-level SE trim brings an 8.0in touchscreen with SmartLink, so you can use your mobile phone's apps, including navigation aids such as Google Maps and Waze, from the screen itself. That makes the lack of in-built sat-nav less of an issue. A DAB radio and Bluetooth are included, along with two USB-C ports.
If you move up to SE L trim then you get a 9.2in screen with in-built sat-nav and Infotainment Online, which gives you access to online features including traffic and weather reports. Both systems feature a glass-fronted screen that's beautifully clear, with sharp graphics and simple, responsive menus.
The stereo system has eight speakers but it’s a little tinny, with no premium upgrade available.
This is one of the areas where you understand why the Skoda Octavia costs a little more than the Scala. There are more tactile surfaces in the Octavia, whereas the Scala uses far more hard plastics, which while robust, don't look plush.
There are some tactile, soft-touch materials used on the upper dashboard at least. And to get a feel for where the Scala sits among it's key price rivals on quality, it's outclassed by the classy Mazda 3 inside, but looks and feels nicer than the Ford Focus's iffy interior.