£25,700 - £28,495 Price range
56 - 58 MPG
The Skoda Octavia Scout is a slightly more rugged, off-road-ready take on the standard Octavia Estate.
Aesthetically it’s a little more muscular than the standard Octavia, with tougher protective cladding, underbody guards and re-styled bumpers, but it’s the added grip and 33mm higher ride height that have impressed critics.
It can tow up to 2,000kg, and although it lacks the hill-hold or descent control of the 4×4 Skoda Yeti, reviewers say it handles rough and slippery terrain even more smoothly than its boxier cousin. Its all-wheel-drive technology uses with the same fifth-generation Haldex clutch as the Yeti, so there’s plenty of traction for when you need it most, without having a permanently connected 4×4 system hurting your fuel economy.
The Octavia Scout is praised for its best-of-both-worlds attributes. It’s blessed with the same comfortable handling as the vanilla Octavia but with a smugness-inducing ruggedness which means you can easily negotiate those would-be sticky situations come winter.
Despite the Scout’s outward differences to the normal Octavia Estate – the front and rear black bumpers and silver side panels – very little has changed on the inside. Which is not necessarily a bad thing.
Like the Octavia Estate, it has a clean dash design and comes packed full of high quality materials, and you can opt for either black or brown leather – and the seats are neat half-leather, half-suede-feel numbers with a ‘Scout’ logo embossed in them.
The Scout also gets the Octavia’s big boot, although the 4×4 system means it’s a teeny bit less spacious than the cavernous estate. However, boot capacity is an ample 580 litres (down from 610 in the normal estate) with seats up and enormous 1,620 litres with the seats folded down.
You’re unlikely to ever feel claustrophobic in one of these, but a full-length panoramic sunroof can be added. Critics also praise the generous amount of leg and headroom for passengers – even six footers won’t mind a trek across Europe in the back of an Octavia.
The stereo comes with a five-inch colour touch-screen, upgradable to an eight-inch sat-nav. Being a Skoda, it has has many ‘simply clever’ features, including an ice scraper hidden in the filler cap, a smartphone holder, a double-sided boot carpet (one side is carpet, the other wipe-clean), a pocket bin in the door, plus of plenty more practical nets, hooks and nooks for keeping your cabin in order. Put simply, you could probably live in the thing for a week and not run out of space.
Despite the increase in weight and height over the normal Octavia Estate, road tests reveal the Scout to be confident overtaker (although the noise of the diesel engine is a little intrusive at high revs), with all-round good body control, and it’s smooth when cruising at speed. Experts agree that although it lacks the handling prowess of the normal estate this is unlikely to faze you in day-to-day driving.
This level of performance is made all the more satisfying for the knowledge that it can tackle a muddy field with the best of them. You don’t need to work any levers or buttons to switch modes when you plan to go off-road – you’re just rewarded with much better traction over its two-wheel-drive counterparts. Its extra ride height cushions the effects of uneven road surfaces for a very comfortable ride too.
The Scout the choice of two 2.0-litre diesels. The lower-powered diesel (with 148hp) will do 0-62mph in 9.1 seconds,129mph flat-out and will achieve a claimed 55.4mpg.
The higher powered diesel (with 182hp) only comes with the DSG automatic gearbox, which critics say is actually slightly clunkier and coarser than the smooth manual matched to its lower-powered counterpart. It’s more expensive too: it costs £2,675 more than the slower version, but Skoda claims the same 55.4mpg for the 182hp engine as the 148hp, and the 0-60mph time drops to a nippy 7.8 seconds.
It’s a Volkswagen Group product, so you can expect the Scout to be as well made as the Golf. Further peace of mind comes in the form of up to nine airbags as standard, and you can order a whole host of extra safety options. These include parking assistance and a rear-view camera, as well as Crew Protect Assistant (this tightens seat belts and closes windows and the sunroof in the event of a crash) and Driver Activity Assistant, which helps monitor fatigue and alerts the driver when it thinks it’s time to take a break.
It’s not had the full round of Euro NCAP tests yet but is expected to achieve the full-five star rating as the Estate before it.
Critics compare the Octavia Scout’s running costs favourably to its obvious off-road competition, lording its claimed 55.4mpg over the likes of the Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer (42.8mpg) and the VW Passat Alltrack (47.9mpg).
It is more expensive than the Estate, but if you like its more adventurous outdoorsy style, you could do far worse considering its rivals.
The Scout is a tough-terrain-tackling crossbreed of a car, designed with outdoorsy families in mind. It’s not going to be as capable as a pure off-roader, but with two-tonne towing power it’ll more than do the job if you have a caravan or horsebox to cart, and its rough-road package offers excellent value for money next to others in its class. The closest competitor for most buyers is likely the standard Octavia Estate
Ultimately though, despite the dearer price tag over the standard car, critics say the Scout is hard to beat in terms of sheer confidence-boosting does-it-all practicality.
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