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Best value small family cars: Skoda Scala vs Kia Ceed

The Skoda Scala and Kia Ceed may be left-field hatchback choices, but they both offer a lot for your money

The family car market remains as strong as ever. A sensible five- door hatchback ticks all of the boxes for most people, and as a result, every manufacturer wants to get in on the action. 

 Kia CeedSkoda Scala
Contract type:Personal Contract Hire (PCH)Personal Contract Hire (PCH)
Monthly cost:£190£187
Length of contract:36 months36 months
Initial payment:£1,707£1,769
Mileage allowance:5,000/year5,000/year

Our two challengers here fly under the radar somewhat; neither is among the most popular choices in the segment. However, both are underrated, and the result is that leasing companies price them keenly to grab customers’ attention. 

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The cheaper of our two contenders is the Skoda Scala. Often overlooked simply because its better-known stablemate, the Octavia, is such a great car, that doesn’t mean the Scala is without its own strong appeal. 

The £187-per-month figure gets a Scala SE Technology. Standard kit includes 16-inch alloy wheels, parking sensors all round, and a sharp 9.2-inch touchscreen with sat-nav. The latter has all of the smartphone connectivity you’ll need, plus large shortcut keys on either side of the display, so it’s easy to find your way around.  

On the road, Skoda’s typically stable and trustworthy driving experience is found here. Those modest 16-inch wheels and fairly tall tyre sidewalls let the Scala deal with low-speed bumps admirably, and a high-quality level of damping means that it continues to impress the faster you go. The grip is fairly strong, the steering is precise and the controls feel well judged.

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Power comes from the entry-point in the Scala line-up. That means a fairly modest 94bhp from a 1.0-litre three cylinder petrol unit. Performance is fine – 0-62mph takes 10.9 seconds – although the car will struggle a little bit more when it’s fully loaded. 

And loading up a Scala is something that’s fairly easy to do. It doesn’t have the rear space of an Octavia, but there’s still comfortable room for five people inside. At 467 litres, the boot capacity is well above the class average, too. 

As with the Skoda, the Kia Ceed is often overlooked in this class, but those in the know are getting themselves a very impressive hatchback. In terms of ride and handling, the Ceed offers an excellent balance between the two; it’s marginally less soothing than the Scala over bumps, but the Korean model is more fun through the corners.

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Inside, the cabin isn’t quite as spacious, nor is the design quite as neat as its Czech rival’s, but the quality and space are better than the class average.

For £189 per month, you’ll be settling for the Ceed’s lowest ‘2’ trim. However, an eight-inch touchscreen with a reversing camera is fitted as standard, as are cruise control, air-conditioning and 16-inch alloy wheels. 

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Crucially, beside the Skoda, you’re getting a much more potent engine. The Kia’s power comes from a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol unit with 158bhp and 253Nm of torque, which means a very keen 0-62mph time of 8.4 seconds. Better still, the motor features mild-hybrid tech to keep the fuel bills low; WLTP numbers say you can expect 51.4mpg from the Ceed. 

Considering there’s so little to separate this pair on the monthly costs, that could be the clincher for some. Another key difference between the most competitive terms for this pair is that the Scala’s contract only ties you down to a two-year agreement, while the Ceed’s contract runs for three.

Verdict

First place: Kia Ceed

The Kia Ceed has appeared in a couple of Auto Express group tests in recent times, and has overcome rivals as strong as the Volkswagen Golf and Peugeot 308 along the way. 

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Based purely on the numbers, you’re getting a car with significantly more power than the Scala for just £3 extra each month. The Ceed is hard to fault across the board, so that difference is impossible to overlook.

Second place: Skoda Scala

There’s no shame in taking second place here, because the Scala still offers a sensible package with very few glaring flaws. We think that this engine doesn’t quite have enough punch; a little more power could potentially have led to a different outcome. 

But as it stands, the Scala still exhibits all of Skoda’s trademark qualities such as comfort, practicality and ease of use.

Figures

 

Kia Ceed 1.5 T-GDi 2

Skoda Scala 1.0 TSI 95 SE Tech

Monthly lease/total lease cost

£190/£8,535

£187/£6,155

Powertrain

4cyl in-line/1,482cc turbo, mild-hybrid

3cyl in-line/999cc turbo

Peak power/torque

158bhp/253Nm

94bhp/175Nm

Transmission

6-speed manual/fwd

5-speed manual/fwd

Height/width

4,310/2,650mm

4,362/2,649mm

Length/wheelbase

1,447/1,800mm

1,471/1,793mm

Fuel tank capacity

50 litres

50 litres

Boot capacity (seats up/down)

395/1,291 litres

467/1,410 litres

Kerbweight/towing weight

1,300/1,000kg

1,201/1,150kg

Turning circle

10.6 metres

10.9 metres

Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.

3rd/5th

20th/16th

NCAP: Adult/child/ped./assist/stars

88/85/68/73/5 (2019)

97/87/81/76/5 (2019)

0-62mph/top speed

8.4 secs/130mph

11.0 secs/118mph

WLTP mpg/CO2

51.4mpg/125g/km

53.3mpg/120g/km

   

Parking sensors/camera/LED lights

No/yes/no

F&R/£460/yes

Cruise control/lane keep/blindspot

Yes/yes/no

Yes/yes/no

Climate ctrl/leather/heated seats

Air-con/no/no

Air-con/no/£290

Sat-nav/digital dash

No/no

Yes/£615

Wireless/CarPlay/Android Auto

No/yes/yes

£275/yes/yes

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