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.

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. 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 basic engine lineup – a choice between two petrols and one diesel. The 1.0-litre TSI unit is available with 94bhp or 114bhp, but buyers can also choose a more powerful 1.5-litre with 148bhp.

The lower-powered 1.0-litre version needs 10.9 seconds to reach 62mph from a standstill, while the 114bhp variant manages 0-62mph in 9.8 seconds and has a 125mph top speed. The 1.5-litre improves on those figures with an 8.2-second 0-62mph time and a 137mph top speed. 

The single diesel choice is a 1.6-litre TDI unit with 114bhp, available with either a manual or DSG gearbox - although there's no difference in sprint times with both hitting 62mph in 10.1 seconds.

Despite the punchier performance of the 1.5-litre petrol and the good economy of the diesel, we recommend the cheaper, yet still excellent 114bhp 1.0-litre TSI for most buyers.

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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