Skoda Octavia Scout review
The Skoda Octavia Scout gets more rugged bodywork and a 4x4 drivetrain
The Skoda Octavia Scout is a rugged and off-road focused version of the popular Octavia estate. Permanent four-wheel drive, more ground clearance and more powerful engines give SUV capabilities but without the premium price tag.
It remains as practical as any other Octavia, so there’s a huge boot, acres of passenger space and compliant but engaging drive. To distinguish it as the flagship model in the range, Skoda has added a whole host of visual tweaks to mark it out. New front and rear bumpers along with plastic body cladding and a jacked-up ride give you an indication as to this car's off-road capabilities.
Unlike the rest of the Octavia lineup, the Scout is only available in one trim with the option of two diesel engines. Both are 2.0-litre motors with either 148bhp or 181bhp versions available to buyers. The more powerful of the two has been lifted straight from the potent Octavia Estate vRS model, yet both will return up to a claimed 55.4mpg which puts it right to the top of its class in terms of economy.
Skoda has never really set the world alight with cutting-edge design, but its current range looks smart, with simple lines and squared-off edges giving its cars a handsome, no-nonsense look. The third-generation Octavia set the template for subsequent models, and the straight edges suit the crossover estate formula down to the ground.
As in the previous Scout, the Octavia adds off-road styling cues in the form of black plastic trim for the bumpers, wheelarches and sills, while the standard model’s body-coloured door rubbing strips are picked out in black. In addition, there’s a chunky front skid plate and a matching one at the rear, plus wing mirrors and roof rails in silver and chrome window trim, which all combine to give the Scout an upmarket feel.
Inside, the Octavia once again sticks to the crossover estate formula with a plush finish to help justify its higher list price. The layout is simple, although the dials emulate the face of a chronograph watch, so they look a little fussy when compared to the rest of the dash.
Gloss-black trim on the centre console gives the interior a lift, but there are still some harder plastics in the cabin. Skoda offers part-leather trim in the Scout, either in black or dark brown.
The trim inserts on the doors and around the gearlever are another questionable addition. The plastic features a wood grain pattern, but its metallic finish looks a bit odd. While the cabin isn’t quite as smartly designed as that of the SEAT Leon X-Perience, build quality is just as good and everything feels like it’s made to last.
Beneath the surface the Scout rides on the familiar MQB platform that also underpins the likes of the SEAT Leon ST and VW Golf Estate. But the biggest difference between them is the 181bhp 2.0-litre that’s available in the Scout. Lifted from the sporty vRS model, the engine is only available in conjunction with the six-speed DSG gearbox.
A detuned 148bhp version of the same engine delivers all the performance you could ever need and is significantly cheaper to buy, too. A six-speed manual gearbox is available with the lesser-powered engine. The 181bhp model has noticeably more grunt, with the sprint from 0-62mph completed in only 7.8 seconds.
Both engines sound a little gruff on start-up, but once up to speed they become a lot more hushed. Whichever engine you opt for, power delivery is smooth and with torque in both engines available from 1,750rpm you have access to ample power in any gear.
The Scout is also very well equipped for tackling tough off road terrain as both variants come with Haldex-5 all-wheel drive. During normal driving conditions the Scout will remain front-wheel drive, which helps improve economy, but when the car recognises the front wheels are struggling for grip power will be sent to the rear wheels to boost traction. The system works seamlessly: even when off-road there’s no disrupted power delivery and wheelspin is also kept to a minimum.
The Octavia sits on the VW Group’s MQB platform, so should prove dependable. Readers voted it the 42nd most reliable car in Driver Power 2015, and the 11th best model to own overall.
Going to a Skoda dealer for a solution to any predicament should be a hassle-free experience, though, as the brand’s network came out on top in our Driver Power 2014 satisfaction survey; as we’ve seen, SEAT’s was at the opposite end of the scale.
The Octavia has only been tested by Euro NCAP in hatchback guise, earning a maximum rating of five stars. However, the Scout’s four-wheel-drive system will provide added security in slippery conditions.
The Octavia is already one of the most practical estates in its class, so the new Scout has a very strong foundation to build on. The 610-litre boot is larger than both the VW Passat Alltrack and Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer, and even with the rear seats folded it has the upper hand with space increasing to 1,740 litres.
Behind a 6ft driver there’s still ample head and knee room in the back for adults. The ride may have been jacked up by 33mm, but it’s still very easy to get in and out thanks to the wide door openings.
Elsewhere inside there are plenty of handy storage cubbies and in the fuel filler cap Skoda has added a very useful ice scraper. And despite its increased proportions and bulky looks, a rear-view reversing camera is available so it’s easy to park in tighter gaps.
In comparsion to rivals the Scout offers great value for money. Yet, the entry-level 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel is around £2,500 more than the standard Octavia Estate 4x4 and doesn't offer much more in terms of capability. The more powerful 181bhp model is priced a little higher, but is still dramatically cheaper than its rivals from Vauxhall and VW.
However, the Scout is significantly cheaper to run than rival models. Both engines will return 55.4mpg, with emissions at 129g/km of CO2 for the less powerful model and 134g/km of CO2 for the range-topper. The Vauxhall can only manage 42.8mpg with CO2 emissions at a whopping 174g/km, while the VW still lags behind returning 47.9mpg.