Skoda is planning to expand its SUV lineup next year with a seven-seater, but until then the new second-generation Skoda Octavia Scout is designed to be the next best thing. Building on the success of the first model, which Skoda sold over 53,000 of worldwide since 2007, the new model is even more practical, more efficient and better equipped than before.
Based on the standard Octavia Estate 4x4, the Scout has been given an SUV makeover to establish itself as the flagship model. The tough black body cladding on the front and rear as well as the wheel arches is exclusive to the Scout, as too is the silver trim that frames the lower section front and rear bumpers.
To further boost its off-road credentials the Scout sits 33mm higher than the standard model, which results in an impressive 171mm of ground clearance – that’s a fraction more than you get in an Audi Q3. Skoda also fits a rough-road package as standard to the Scout to help protect the under side of the car from ruts and rocky terrain.
The Scout’s extra height is immediately obvious from behind the wheel, you’re welcomed with a more authoritative view of the road and the jacked up suspension delivers a more cushioned ride. UK buyers will have the pick of two diesel engines from launch, a 148bhp or 181bhp 2.0-litre TDI engine. It’s the more powerful of the two options we have fitted to out test car, and essentially the same engine you’ll find in the potent Octavia vRS diesel.
The jacked up ride not only gives an advantage off-road but on-road it delivers a more cushioned ride. While the engine is a little gruff on start up and at idle, there’s real punch when you plant your right foot. The 380Nm of torque on offer is available from 1,750rpm so power delivery is almost instant, with 0-62mph taking just 7.8 seconds. In comparison, the more powerful Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer BiTurbo takes a dawdling 9.9 seconds.
The Haldex four-wheel drive system, which only sends power to the rear wheels when they are struggling for grip, works seamlessly. We had the opportunity to tackle some fairly demanding off-road terrain and the Scout managed it with relative ease but even on-road the multi-link rear suspension makes it as equally as capable and composed when doing the mundane stuff. The added height of the Scout hasn’t upset body control either.
The six-speed DSG gearbox is your only option with the 181bhp version of the Octavia Scout and while it sits between its rivals the VW Passat Alltrack and Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer in terms of powers, it’s yards ahead when it comes to efficiency. Skoda claims the Scout will return 55.4mpg with emission of 134g/km. The VW and Vauxhall can only muster 47.9mpg and 42.8mpg respectively.
It stamps its authority even further inside, with a well-made and spacious cabin. There’s acres of head and knee room and even the tallest of passengers won’t struggle for space. The 610-litre boot trumps its rivals yet again and with the seats folded capacity swells to 1,740 litres. Yet, despite offering more in almost everyway than the VW and Vauxhall, the Scout comes in at £4,170 and £1,724 cheaper respectively.