Skoda Octavia Scout

We size up the rugged four-wheel drive variant of the Octavia estate

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

With a premium of £1,100 over the 4x4 estate and £1,715 over the two-wheel drive wagon the Scout isn’t cheap. So it all boils down to whether you actually need four-wheel drive stability and if the toughened-up looks appeal. Otherwise save yourself some cash and go for a more mainstream, but equally as talented, Octavia estate.

Here’s a scout that can wear its badge with pride! Following in the tracks of cars such as the A4 Allroad and Saab 9-3X, Skoda is meeting the demand for models that bridge the gap between an estate and a full-blown SUV. But can this facelifted version of the original Octavia Scout, which went on sale in 2007, rise above the competition?

The most obvious differences between this and the standard two-wheel drive Octavia wagon, is a 65-millimetre increase in ride height, the addition of four-wheel drive and tougher looking body protection which increases the length and width by 12 and 15 millimetres respectively.

Aluminium scuff plates at the front and rear, plastic body cladding and the jacked up suspension certainly differentiate the Scout from its more discreet stablemate and give it plenty of road presence. Updates to this model include a redesigned front grille, sleeker headlamps and body-coloured side mouldings – pulling it into line with the rest of the refreshed Octavia range.

Climb inside and the extra height is barely perceptible – it doesn’t have the ‘command’ driving position of a full SUV or even Skoda’s own compact off-roader, the Yeti. But the rough and ready theme continues on the inside with a chunky grab handle positioned above the glovebox. Otherwise the interior gets a new look instrument clusters lit by while LEDs, redesigned seats and keeps the same excellent loading capacity of 1,620-litres with the rear bench folded.

Get moving and an unexpected benefit of the taller springs and shocks is a subtle increase in ride comfort. But what you gain in cosiness you lose in body control in the bends. The Haldex four-wheel drive system, which can deal out front-rear axle torque splits of up to 98:2 or 2:98 as well as 86 per cent of the twist to one tyre alone, works brilliantly giving the Scout an unshakeable grip on the road in dry conditions.

We drove the 160bhp 1.8 TSI, which proved sprightly and smooth. And with a impressive return of 36.2mpg at the pumps, it’s hard to justify the slower and £1,780 more expensive 140bhp 2.0 TDI which offers just 7.9mpg mpg more on the combined cycle.

Overall the Scout is far from fully-fledged SUV. It is however a beautifully built, comfortable family car with moderate abilities to tackle the rough stuff and extra stability in adverse conditions – which is never a bad thing.

Rival: Audi A4 Allroad Jacked-up suspension gives the allroad and softer ride, and when it comes to the rough stuff it’s not left wanting either. An off-road ESP and near Q5 rivalling ground clearance make sure it has the mud-plugging ability to match it’s rugged good looks.

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