New Skoda Octavia Scout 2014 review
This beefed-up Skoda Octavia Estate offers true rugged ability but at a price.
There’s no questioning the ability or execution of the Scout. It’s larger and cheaper to run than all of its closest rivals, but the new car’s biggest challenger comes from within Skoda’s own range. A regular Octavia 4x4 Estate is just as capable and more affordable. Nearly £2,500 is a lot to pay for an extra 33mm of ground clearance.
The Octavia is an integral part of the Skoda range, and joining the standard hatch and Estate versions is the new Octavia Scout. As always, it's tougher looking and more off-road-orientated than the rest, but what’s changed for this new second-generation model?
Well, on the outside the styling is more boisterous, with chunks of black body cladding patched on to the front and rear bumpers, while the ride height has been raised by 33mm over the standard Octavia Estate.
Like before, Skoda has also fitted a sophisticated all-wheel-drive system as standard. Lighter and smaller than the previous set-up, the new Haldex 5 clutch allows power to be sent from the front to the rear axle instantly without disrupting refinement or comfort. Behind the wheel and when off-road, the all-wheel drive works seamlessly as the car can detect a loss in traction a lot quicker than the driver.
UK buyers will be offered only two engines – both 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesels – with the choice between the 148bhp version tested here and a more powerful 181bhp model. Skoda is expecting a 50:50 split in terms of sales. The diesel is tried and tested, so delivers sufficient performance with reasonable running costs. Both versions promise over 55mpg, while our 148bhp car claims CO2 emissions of 129g/km – a 20 per cent improvement over the previous Scout – which is better than rivals like the VW Passat Alltrack and Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer.
The visual changes have also had a say in how the new car performs. The jacked-up ride height means it feels more cushioned on the move, but it’s still balanced and stable in corners. Like all Octavias, the Scout has inherited rather light and numb steering, although this does make it easier to manoeuvre and park.
A more positive hereditary feature is the space inside. Its 610-litre boot swallows more kit than rivals and passenger space in the rear is generous, so this is one of the most practical cars in its class.
Now read our round-up of the best estate cars on sale.