New Skoda Octavia Scout 2017 review

Skoda has given the Octavia Scout a facelift, adding new styling features and new tech to the off-roader

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

Skoda’s rugged Octavia Scout is a comfortable cruiser and even mixes pretty well off road. The Octavia Estate is cheaper and just as practical, however, so unless you really need the added ground clearance the standard car is a better bet. This 181bhp engine is a strong performer, but the cheaper 148bhp version with a manual gearbox will be enough for most buyers.

Alongside the Octavia vRS, Skoda has launched the facelifted Scout, adding new styling features and extra kit to the rugged version of the popular family car.

Those new headlights, taillights and updated bumper designs are all present and correct on the jacked-up estate car, which also gets plastic cladding, skid plates and a 30mm raised ride height over a standard Octavia.

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Inside our car was the same optional 9.2-inch touchscreen display as in the vRS, which looks great in the already upmarket-feeling cabin. The large, comfortable seats are a big plus as well.

That’s mostly because the Scout feels set up for cruising, effortlessly gliding over lumps and bumps. Even on rough ground the Scout manages to feels like some cars do on road – but it’s a comfy car wherever you go.

Head into a corner quickly and the soft suspension means there’s more body movement than in a normal Octavia, and even with its 4x4 system the car is prone to understeer in the wet. The steering is light and a bit too vague, so you feel encouraged to take it easy – despite the strong performance.

The 2.0-litre TDI diesel in our test car boasted an impressive 181bhp, the same as the diesel vRS. But here it makes much less sense, especially mated to the dual-clutch DSG gearbox. The lower-powered 148bhp version with a manual box is our pick of the range, as it's cheaper to buy and more economical. Still, the auto suits the car’s relaxed nature, meaning it’s no hardship if you spend a lot of time behind the wheel.

The Haldex all-wheel drive system, along with that extra ride height, means that the Scout is actually pretty capable off-road. It won’t trouble a dedicated 4x4 like the Land Rover Discovery, but for getting across dry terrain or muddy fields it’s all you really need. Factor in the new hill descent control, and you’ll find navigating steep and slippery slopes much safer than before.

Plus, the 610-litre boot is one of the biggest in its class, and, like the standard car, there’s loads of space in the back seats as well. It’s the same size as the normal Octavia Estate, though - so unless you love the looks or really need the extra ride height for off-roading, a standard model will save you some cash and is only marginally less comfortable on the road. It’s even available with four-wheel drive for tricky tracks and adverse weather.

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