New Skoda Scala - Family Hatchback
The new Skoda Scala is the latest car to be produced by the Czech company. It is set to rival the VW Golf, Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra in the highly competitive family hatchback market. Skoda Auto is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of the VW Group and works closely with its parent company, sharing technology and ideas.
The Scala replaces the outgoing Skoda Rapid and development has lasted four years, but from the first appearance, it looks well worth the wait. The Scala is built using a version of the MQB-AO platform, which is a smaller version of the excellent MQB platform developed by the Volkswagen Group. It is also the first Skoda to use this latest platform. The Outgoing Rapid was a great car in its own right offering great value for money, along with space and practicality but perhaps lacked a little in the high-end quality stakes. The Skoda Scala sticks to tradition offering great value for money, space in abundance but now comes with a high-class sophisticated appeal both inside and out.
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Engine, Transmissions and Performance
The Scala is available with a range of four engines, three petrol and one diesel. The diesel is a 1.6-litre TDI engine creating 114hp. The three petrol engine choices are a 1-litre three-cylinder TSI with either 95hp or 115hp. Then there's the top of the range 1.5-litre four-cylinder TSI with 150hp.
All engines come with a choice of six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch (DSG) automatic transmission, except for the least powerful engine. The 1.0-litre TSI 95 comes fitted to a five-speed manual gearbox.
There are currently no hybrid or electric versions available. There are rumours that there may be a performance version coming soon, which would feature hybrid technology in vRS guise. Although this is not confirmed, given that there is a vRS version of the Fabia and Octavia, it seems highly likely we will see one of these shortly.
Skoda has setup the Scala to focus on comfort, driving pleasure and refinement, not on fun and sporty handling ability. The Scala is comfortable driving over tarmac surfaces and glides over potholes and cushions all bumps giving it a soft and gentle ride. The ride quality is arguably better than in most rivals and nearly, but not quite, as good as in the Volkswagen Golf.
Although you don't get the same amount of excitement and driving experience as you do in a Ford Focus, the Scala does handle surprisingly well. The Scala grips well, as good stability and limited body roll to make the car feel planted when going around corners. The steering is good but perhaps a little light so you don't get as much feedback as you would like.
You can also fit the Scala with Skoda's optional Sport Chassis Control, which is a system of adjustable shock absorbers. Sport Chassis Control also features Driving Mode Select which lets you choose either a 'Normal' or 'Sport' chassis mode.
Interior Layout and Quality
The interior of the Scala is of a much higher quality than the outgoing Skoda Rapid it is replacing. There's more soft-touch plastic and materials than before and the cheaper looking hard plastic is generally tucked away out of sight. It is not to the same high quality feel as the Golf but is most certainly in the same quality feel bracket as the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra.
The Scala is available in three trim levels, the Scala S, SE and SE-L. Skoda has kept the interior and dash clean and clinical with no excessive buttons or controllers. The infotainment screen sits on top of the dashboard in easy eye line. There are three different touchscreen sizes, depending on the spec level you have chosen, a 6.5inch (S Trim), 8inch (SE Trim) or 9.2inch (SE-L Trim). If you opt for the top-spec SE-L, as well as the 9.2inch screen you get built-in sat-nav and Skoda's 'Virtual Cockpit' replacing the traditional analogue dials on the instrument cluster.
All models come with an array of features including DAB radio, Bluetooth connectivity, LED headlights as standard. The SE and SE-L model get extra features like smartphone connectivity with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, cruise control and a multi-function leather steering wheel.
The driving position is good, and the seat and steering wheel are adjustable to suit any sized driver. There is ample space upfront, even if you are well over 6 feet tall, with plenty of headroom and legroom. Passengers in the back get more space than in most other cars in this class, with plenty of headroom and legroom. The foot space under the front seats is also very generous, which is a welcome change.
The boot space in the Skoda Scala is very impressive and offers 467 litres capacity. Its rivals the Golf and Focus have storage capacities of 380 and 375 respectively. The boot has a small low load lip which makes getting heavy items in and out much easier. There is also an optional boot floor available which is relatively cheap but will come in very handy.
Safety Features and Awards
The Skoda Scala comes with a host of safety features as standard to help achieve some of the highest safety scores in its class. The Scala got the top mark of 5 stars from the Euro NCAP safety tests. Some of the standard safety features are, lane assist, multiple airbags, automatic emergency braking (AEB) and full LED headlights and taillights.
Optional safety features available include park assist, Side Assist with Rear Traffic Alert and Driver Alert Fatigue Detection.
The Skoda Scala won the 2019 Auto Express Compact Family Car of the Year award which is a tremendous achievement given the high level of competition it is up against.
The new Skoda Scala is a fantastic, slightly cheaper alternative to the VW Golf and Ford Focus offering excellent value for money. It ticks almost every box and is a great all-round car, ideal for gentle cruising. If there is a downside, it is probably the exterior styling. It is just not modern enough for me as it just lacks that 21st-century edge.