Skoda Octavia Scout review
The Skoda Scout is a 4x4 version of the Octavia, with raised suspension and tougher bodywork
According to Skoda, multi-tasking is the idea behind the Octavia Scout. Bosses say it is equally at home in the urban jungle or tackling rough terrain – and it certainly broadens the appeal of the Octavia range. With its jacked-up suspension, plastic body cladding and aluminium scuff plates is has more road presence than the standard Octavia estate. Even with four-wheel drive its off-road abilities are limited, but traction, even in the wet, is superb. Buyers can choose between 1.8 TSI and 2.0 TDI engines - it's the latter, with its extra helping of torque that suits the Scout far better.
Our choice: 2.0 TDI
The most obvious differences between this and the standard two-wheel drive Octavia wagon, is a 65mm increase in ride height and tougher looking body protection which increases the length and width by 12mm and 15mm respectively. There's also aluminium scuff plates at the front and rear in case you decide to test the Scout's off-road ability. Inside there's 4x4 badging on the gearlever and a Scout emblem on the grab handles. Hard-wearing cloth seats and specially labelled kick plates on the door sills complete the look.
Two engines are offered, a 1.8-litre FSI petrol - which revs smoothly but lacks low down grunt - and a 138bhp 2.0 TDI unit which clatters at idle, but suits the car far better. Either version handles well, though. Body roll is kept to a minimum and the steering is precise, if a little numb. The four-wheel-drive system serves up plenty of grip and the Scout inspires confidence on slippery surfaces. What’s more, the compliant ride makes it comfortable over long distances.
The Octavia's interior quality is first rate, general fit and finish is excellent and by using parts from the VW Group the technology is tried, tested and reliable. VOSA, the organisation which manages recalls for all UK new cars, records only one minor safety issue, affecting cars built in 2009. The Octavia Scout hasn't been individually crash tested, but the Octavia estate on which it's based only scored four out of five in its Euro NCAP crash test, that was due to lack of standard safety kit, like ESP, on lower spec models.
The driving position is good, offering plenty of legroom for taller owners. Rear passengers get a good deal, too. The only gripe is the wide central transmission tunnel, which takes up lots of foot space and makes the central seat suitable only for children. The 605-litre boot is huge for this class, and it get even better when you fold the rear seats down, expanding the loading area to 1,655-litres.
The Scout represents excellent value for money – standard equipment includes dual-zone climate control, a six-disc CD changer and cruise control. With fuel economy and CO2 emissions for the diesel version at 47.9mpg and 155g/km respectively running costs should be low too. The petrol version returns around 10mpg less, but costs over £1,500 less in the first place. Retained values are also high, especially for the diesel, so you should see a good return on your investment when the time comes to sell.