Skoda Octavia Scout
A consummate all-rounder – that’s our verdict on Czech star after a hugely impressive nine months with us.
I don't think I’ve ever seen so many sad faces in the Auto Express office. When it was time to return our Skoda Octavia Scout, there was a genuine sense of loss among my colleagues. After nine months of near faultless service, the big Czech machine had won a whole host of fans.
In fact, it didn’t take long for people to be wooed by its charms. When it arrived in October 2009, the versatile Scout was quickly in demand. With bags of cabin space, superb carrying ability and chunky off-roader-inspired styling, it soon topped most drivers’ weekend wishlists.
It’s amazing how many staff want to move furniture, do a bit of DIY or take a trip to the tip! Even the ‘big cheeses’ took a shine to the Skoda.
Our HR director asked if she could borrow a car for a business meeting in Frome, Somerset, and so I lent her my Scout. This was a mistake, as she loved it! From that moment on, she always made a point of requesting the Skoda each time she needed a motor.
Then deputy editor Graham Hope explained he was taking his wife and baby daughter on a holiday to his home town of Montrose in Angus, Scotland.
The 1,000-mile round trip required a vehicle that was comfortable, economical and, above all, could swallow all the kit that a baby needs for a week-long break. Once again, the Scout proved to be the perfect candidate, and once again I handed over the keys. Would I ever get to drive the car myself?
Not if the Auto Express photographers had their way. With a huge load bay to swallow all their gear and a stable ride for pin-sharp car-to-car tracking pictures, the Octavia was a firm favourite for pictures. Daredevil snapper Dominic Fraser hung out of the car at over 110mph for a spectacular shot which captured a stunt plane hovering inches above an Audi R8 Spyder (Issue 1,110). Once he’d caught his breath after the high-speed run, his first words were: “I want your car, Lesley. It has to be the photographer’s car of choice.”
It was while the Scout was in the hands of one of my colleagues that it collected a disfiguring scar on its nose. While the four-wheel- drive system delivers plenty of traction in slippery conditions, it can’t perform miracles – particularly on sheet ice! As a result, in last December’s wintry conditions the Skoda went skidding into the back of a Nissan X-Trail waiting at a junction.
Fortunately the damage was only cosmetic, so I did get to spend some time in the Scout when I took time off to look after my mum after her hip replacement operation. Again the Skoda came into its own, ferrying my poor mother to and from hospital for physio and doctor’s appointments. The jacked-up ride height made it easy to get into and out of, while there was still plenty of room in the back seat, even when mum had the front passenger chair pushed all the way back.
It’s fair to say I’ve loved having the Scout. There were one or two niggles to begin with – such as the sticky hill hold release – but once everything had loosened up, I really looked forward to getting behind the wheel. It’s just a shame everyone loved it as much as me – otherwise I’d have been able to keep it all to myself...
One aspect of the Skoda that really won me over was its electronically controlled four-wheel-drive system. In dry driving conditions, the Scout had the same agile handling as other Octavias in the line-up. But throw in some rain or snow and the rugged-looking estate was able to demonstrate its huge traction advantage, which helped give the driver a reassuring sense of security.”
Ross Pinnock, Road test editor