What am I looking at?
The new Skoda Octavia Scout. It replaces the previous Octavia Scout, which went out of production in 2012. This new version will be available to order by the end of July 2014.
It uses the latest Skoda Octavia‘s chassis (called MQB – it’s shared with the Volkswagen Golf, SEAT Leon and Audi A3, among other Volkswagen Group models), and features more efficient engines than the previous version. It also has the latest version of the Haldex four-wheel drive system.
The most noticeable improvement over the previous Octavia Scout is the styling. It starts with the estate version of the Octavia (there’s no hatchback Scout), and adds black plastic scuff plates around the lower edges of the car and wheel arches, as well as black plastic strips to protect the doors from scrapes. It also features a neat seat of 17-inch Polar alloy wheels that you don’t get on the normal Octavia and Scout badges in the door sills and on the front grille.
It doesn’t just have the look of an off-roader – it has an extra 32mm of ground clearance compared to the standard 4×4 Octavia, and the latest fifth-generation Haldex clutch means it can quickly send the engine’s power to whichever wheels need it. That’s not all: it comes with Skoda’s rough-road package, which adds protective plastic sections under the car to protect vulnerable components from rocks.
The underside of the car at the front and rear has changed slightly to improve the approach and departure angles, which means you can start driving up and down steeper slopes without grinding the front or rear bumpers on the ground.
All this should add up to a package that will be useful on steep, slippery country lanes and won’t crawl to a halt when it’s snowy. Despite all these off-road improvements, Skoda has a good track record of making its four-wheel-drive cars work well on the road – the Yeti is a good case in point.
What’s under the bonnet?
There’ll be two engine and transmission options available when the car goes on sale: a 2.0-litre diesel with 148hp and a six-speed manual gearbox, and a version of the same engine with 181hp that has a six-speed DSG automatic. Skoda claims both engines will achieve 55.4mpg. The lower-powered version will emit 129g/km of CO2, and the 181hp version will emit 134g/km.
It’s a Volkswagen Group model, so you’ll be able to add a smattering of high-tech safety and comfort features. The Octavia Scout will be available with Intelligent Light Assistant, which will let you keep the main beam on all the time without dazzling other drivers, and you’ll be able to order the car with a rear-view parking camera, which will be a useful addition for lining up the tow bar with your trailer.
The 148hp version with the manual gearbox will start at £25,315 on-the-road, and the more powerful 181hp version with the DSG automatic gearbox will cost from £27,990. This will make it significantly cheaper than the Audi A4 allroad, which may have a more premium feel than the Octavia, but probably won’t outperform the Scout on or off-road.