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In-depth reviews

Skoda Scala review - Engines, performance and drive

A small but tried-and-tested engine range meets confident handling and a plush ride

The Skoda Scala occupies the same class as fellow MQB-platformed Volkswagen Group cars like the SEAT Leon, Skoda Octavia and Volkswagen Golf, but is actually built on the company’s smaller MQB A0 platform – the same one that underpins the VW Polo, Audi A1 and SEAT Arona. The Scala uses torsion-beam rear suspension as a result, saving costs over more complex multi-link systems. Plus, cheaper versions of the Golf and some other rivals use a similar set-up anyway.

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Skoda’s engineers have done a fantastic job with the Scala. It rides just as well as the pricier Volkswagen Golf and is just as easy to drive. It’s not the last word in driving pleasure, but the Scala has accurate steering, lots of grip and has a very satisfying manual gearbox. Those looking for more fun behind the wheel will be better served by the Ford Focus or Mazda 3, but the Scala isn’t terrible in this regard by any stretch.

The Scala’s suspension is very well judged – it rides just as well as an equivalent Volkswagen Golf, especially when specced with 16-inch wheels in SE trim. The suspension makes a bit more noise in its operation than its German counterpart, but the quality of damping is just as impressive.

Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed

The Skoda Scala has a fairly limited engine lineup, but it’s all killer and no filler – a simple choice between two petrols and one diesel. Our favourite is the entry-level 1.0-litre TSI with 113bhp, but buyers can also choose a more powerful 1.5-litre with 148bhp.

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The former manages 0-62mph in 9.8 seconds and has a 125mph top speed; the latter improves on those figures with an 8.2-second 0-62mph time and 136mph top speed. The 1.0-litre car is only available with a manual gearbox, while the 1.5-litre comes with a DSG automatic.

The single diesel choice is a 1.6-litre TDI unit with 113bhp, available with either a manual or DSG gearbox. The manual car is marginally quicker: 10.1 seconds to 62mph trumps the auto’s 10.3 seconds. Top speed is 125mph in the manual and 124mph in the auto.

Despite the punchier performance of the 1.5-litre petrol and the good economy of the diesel, we recommend the cheaper yet still excellent 1.0-litre TSI for most buyers – provided you don’t want or need an automatic gearbox.

Performance is adequate for most everyday situations thanks to the engine’s decent torque and the Scala’s relative light weight – it’s marginally quicker than the turbocharged 1.0-litre versions of key rivals like the Kia Ceed and Volkswagen Golf. Emissions are low and fuel economy is great too.

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