Skoda Octavia Scout
The Scout is easy to distinguish from other Octavia models
- Discreet but attractive appearance
- Impressive comfort and refinement
- Plenty of space for passengers and luggage
- Large rear load area is easy to access
- Keener drivers will find the standard car more fun to drive
- Not a car for the image-conscious
- Skoda's Yeti offers much of the same for less money
- Most buyers will plump for the cheaper standard Octavia
One of the most successful cars in the Skoda line up, the Octavia range has been expanded from the standard hatchback into estate and sport vRS guises. Now it has added the Scout version to the range with brings with it a distinctive exterior design, part-time four-wheel-drive and useful off-road ability.
The Scout version of the Octavia is easy to spot compared to the standard car with the addition of a number of new features. The front and rear bumpers and side skirts are finished in tough-looking black plastic, and the front bumper itself is of a bespoke design for this model, incorporating fog lights. At the rear there's an attractive skid plate to offer protection from tough ground.
Rather than just visual tweaks the Octavia Scout has a number of features which are unquestionably beneficial to its off-road ability. The most obvious of these is the addition of four-wheel-drive, using the long-serving Haldex system which runs in front-wheel-drive unless conditions dictate and power is switched automatically. More obvious is the increase in ride height by 33mm to give an overall ground clearance of 171mm.
In addition, all Octavia Scout models benefit from underbody protection to protect fuel and brake lines, while an electronic differential lock automatically diverts power from a spinning wheel to the opposite wheel on the same axle. It also benefits from an increased arrival and departure angles, increasing off-road ability still further.
The Octavia Scout is fitted with a 2.0-litre diesel unit available in two power outputs, the most powerful fitted with Skoda's acclaimed DSG dual-clutch transmission with the lower output fitted with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard. Both engines are brand-new units and lighter than before as well as more efficient, helping to improve performance and fuel consumption.
Our verdict on the Skoda Octavia Scout
The Scout version of the Octavia brings with it a distinctive design and a worthwhile boost in off-road capability without anything in the way of a meaningful compromise. Whether the additional outlay is worth it is down to the individual buyer, but the reality is that the Scout will provide enough ability in the rough stuff to suit most people.
Although the Octavia Scout is more thirsty than the two-wheel-drive equivalent it's still impressive for a relatively large car, and if driven with care it should be quite inexpensive to run. Insurance costs will also be par for a car of this size and performance.
Space and practicality
The Octavia Scout benefits from the same well-shaped and commodious boot as the standard Estate, and with lashing eyes and a pair of hooks on either side it is designed to cope with all kinds of loads. The boot cover is a smart piece of design, requiring a simple push to automatically retract. Fold the rear seats and the car easy accommodates more bulky items. Cabin storage space is also generous, with several cubbies of a useful size and shape.
Controls and display
The car's refreshed instrumentation is now easier to read and, thanks to the digital display, can deliver more relevant information quickly. The various physical controls should be familiar to existing owners and everything works well. The dominant infotainment screen is a welcome improvement over the old technology, and proves immediately intuitive.
This is an area where the Octavia scores well, with all passengers accommodated in good comfort, thanks to supportive seats and ample head and legroom. The ride quality sits neatly between sporty and soft, and noise from the engine, road and wind is well suppressed under normal driving conditions.
The standard fitment of remote central locking, an engine immobiliser and alarm system should provide all the protection required. Privacy glass at the rear and the well-fitted load cover also provide protection from prying eyes.
All Octavia models come with a long list of safety kit, including electronic stability and traction aids as standard. The additional of four-wheel-drive and features such as hill descent control add an extra layer of protection. Numerous airbags plus a passenger de-activation switch are also included, as are Isofix mounting points.
With its unobtrusive four-wheel-drive system the person behind the wheel can concentrate on getting the most out of the refined and usefully powerful diesel engine. The ride quality is broadly the same as the standard car although there is a fraction more bodyroll due to the ride height increase; few buyers would find this much of an issue compared to the standard car however. All the major controls are slick and well-weighted too.
Family car appeal
If you're determined to stick with a conventional car the Octavia Scout is possibly one of the best choices available. Although it only has five seats, the generous boot and accommodation makes it suitable for most eventualities.
First car appeal
The biggest issue for a new driver would be the purchase price, as other than that the Octavia Scout would present no problems for the inexperienced.
Quality and image
The Skoda brand has been mainly associated with reliable and understated products than anything else, and this is largely due to the great strides it has taken in terms of its product quality. With this Octavia Skoda hopes to add a touch of luxury and glamour as it seeks to climb the automotive ladder and challenge brands more commonly associated with premium products.
Decent door openings front and rear make entering the car straightforward. The interior door handles are large and easy to use, as are the exterior handles. Crucially, the estate car's tailgate requires little effort to open but, if you're short, will require a determined tug to pull shut; this is made a little easier by the prominent handle that hangs down from the inside of the tailgate when it is open.
Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)
With a large touchscreen to access audio, car settings and satellite navigation backed up by steering wheel buttons the Scout's system is easy to use and delivers good sound quality. There's also a premium system available with an even bigger screen.
Colours and trim
With the lower sections of the Octavia Scout finished in grey plastic it benefits from brighter colours, more so than the standard car. On the inside the Scout is finished in leather trim as standard which boosts the quality feeling.
With decent visibility all round helped slightly by the increased ride height, parking the Octavia Scout is a cinch to park. Parking sensors make a huge difference, as does the availability of a parking camera.
Full size spare located under the boot floor.
Petrol engine options - 1.2-litre (105bhp); 1.4-litre (140bhp); 2.0-litre (220bhp). Diesel engine options - 1.6-litre (105bhp); 2.0-litre (150bhp, 184bhp). Transmission options: five and six-speed manual gearbox, six and seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox. Trim levels: S, SE, Elegance, Scout, vRS.
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