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New Skoda Scala 1.5 TSI DSG 2021 review

We try the Skoda Scala DSG to see if a new automatic gearbox can improve the Czech family hatch

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.5 out of 5

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Verdict 

The addition of Skoda’s 1.5 TSI 150 engine and DSG gearbox certainly gives more choice in the Scala range, but even with SE Technology trim’s strong balance between kit and cost, there’s more affordability on offer elsewhere in the Scala line-up. A few years on from launch and next to the new Octavia, the Scala feels like a budget alternative, so it’s best to maximise the value.

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The arrival of the new Skoda Octavia last year rather put the Czech brands other family hatchback offering, the Scala, in the shade.

It’s a more budget-focused alternative, but to give customers more choice Skoda has now added its 148bhp 1.5-litre TSI engine and seven-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic gearbox to the line-up. Price start from £21,965 for this powertrain, but our new fleet-focused SE Technology model costs from £22,365.

The engine is a known quantity, with enough torque (250Nm) that’s delivered smoothly so low-down performance is good enough, while it revs relatively well too. Combined with the seven-speed DSG transmission the Scala will accelerate from 0-62mph in 8.2 seconds, so it’s swift enough. That defines this Scala model, really; it’s ‘enough’ but it doesn’t hit highs in any particular areas. That gearbox is mostly smooth, but suffers from the usual VW Group foible in that it’s sometimes jerky when manoeuvring at low speed. It’s a minor gripe as on the move it’s good.

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Combined with the engine, the powertrain is refined and only intrusively audible when you really rev it hard. The rest of the time it goes about its business without fuss, delivering claimed economy of up to 48.7mpg (helped by smooth cylinder deactivation on the move) and CO2 emissions of 131g/km.

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It’s clear the underpinnings aren’t quite as accomplished as the more expensive Octavia’s because the Scala is based on the smaller MQB A0 platform – this is as big as the A0 architecture will go.

As a result, the Scala sometimes jostles passengers in their seats over ruffled tarmac, but it does a good enough job to cushion the worst the road can throw at it at this time of year, littered with potholes. SE Technology’s conservative 16-inch alloy wheels no doubt help this.

The trim level also features LED headlights as standard, along with Front Assist with autonomous emergency braking, lane assist, a 9.2-inch touchscreen infotainment system with sat-nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, all-round parking sensors, cruise control, air-conditioning and some of the Simply Clever touches Skoda’s pragmatic and affordable models have become known for, such as an umbrella.

However, at £22,365 – and as good as the powertrain is – the value sweet spot lies elsewhere in the Scala range, as the 108bhp 1.0-litre TSI model is more affordable.

While the infotainment is solid at this price, with quick responses and enough features, plus a big screen, the interior quality is best described as robust, rather than tactile and plush.

There’s a lot of hard plastic throughout the cabin, but this does at least mean it should stand up to life as a family car well – and it’ll deliver what you need in this respect as rear legroom is great and the 467-litre boot dwarfs many more premium cars in this class.

Model:Skoda Scala 1.5 TSI 150 DSG SE Technology
Price:£22,365
Engine:1.5-litre 4cyl turbo petrol
Power/torque:148bhp/250Nm
Transmission:Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, front-wheel drive
0-62mph:8.2 seconds
Top speed:136mph
Economy/CO2:48.7mpg/131g/km
On sale:Now
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Sean’s been writing about cars since 2010, having worked for outlets as diverse as PistonHeads, MSN Cars, Which? Cars, Race Tech – a specialist motorsport publication – and most recently Auto Express and sister titles Carbuyer and DrivingElectric

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