7 / 10
Quite the surprise package
With the Skoda Octavia as its starting point, the Scout always had the potential to deliver something good – and it does.
A little bit posh but with rugged credentials, the Skoda Octavia Scout is a quite the surprise package.
Take one fairly mild-mannered wagon, add some bold styling cues, all-wheel drive and a jacked-up ride height – 180mm ground clearance – and you have the Skoda Octavia Scout. It’s no Audi Allroad, but it puts up a fine show, and at a fraction of the price. The Subaru Outback has a worthy rival.
There’s only one Scout model on offer and that’s the 2.0-litre turbo diesel four cylinder which delivers 103kW and 320Nm from 1750rpm. This is matched nicely to a six-speed manual transmission that rarely misses a beat. The lack of an automatic transmission is a shame and is sure to be one reason for lagging sales.
The Scout is very quick off the mark and delivers a nice level of power through the gears. Power and acceleration are well matched to this vehicle. The nice torque at hand contributes to this very enjoyable drive which is at its most perky at around 2000rpm.
The engine is eager and the gearbox is very responsive, with minimal turbo lag, but the gear shift itself is notchy and the clutch a little heavy – this detracts only slightly from an otherwise great drive.
Steering the Scout is a sweet pleasure. Its precise steering makes handling a breeze and makes the Scout incredibly simple to manouvre in more tedious driving conditions, like the supermarket car park. Large side windows and good rearward visibility help in this regard and rear parking sensors are invaluable.
The turbo diesel engine returned reasonable fuel economy from our test route, which was weighted more to city driving, drinking around 8.0 litres per 100km travelled.
The Scout’s interior is very well executed. A tasteful mix of plastics and leather combine to deliver a very good looking cabin. The dash and centre console are home to a really easy to use audio interface which features touch screen functionality. It’s easy to see and simple to use.
In cabin storage is great, with an abundance of storage options at hand. The glove box and centre armrest box are both cooled via the air conditioning system.
The Scout’s cabin features a high level of specification as standard, to include audio touch screen controls and a multi function steering wheel, satellite navigation, MP3/auxiliary/SD input, dual zone climate control and heated seats.
The driver and front passenger seats are firm and well contoured, but I struggled to get really comfortable. The squab is quite long, so my legs were hanging off the end of the seat. And the manual seat adjust makes it hard to make delicate adjustments to achieve a really good driving position.
Large A-pillars hinder forward visibility, and are particularly intrusive when cornering.
What I most like about the Scout is the nimble, confident handling and the great exhaust note. The turbo diesel engine is a gem and the suspension delivers a smooth, flat ride which sets the tone for this car. The ride is comfortable and composed.
With a new baby on board and the plethora of ‘stuff’ that I now seem to carry with me, I’m mad for a wagon and the usable space it offers. The Scout was no exception to my wagon love. The boot opening is large and the load height low and the retractable boot cover keeps your goods out of sight. The split fold seats increase the boot load capacity from 580 litres to 1620 litres. The Scout easily swallows prams, golf clubs, bikes and the like. And if the boot isn’t enough load space, the roof rails give you the option to load up another 75kg of gear.
When it comes to versatility and practicality, the Scout puts on strong show.
The second row offers nice space and comfort for three passengers, although the seats are a little flat and lifeless.
There’s a robust, durable feel to the Scout, without sacrificing a nice sense of style. Buttons, knobs and instrument storks all feel sturdy, doors close with a confident thud and the cloth interior appears ready for a more intense cabin treatment.
Six airbags, dual front, side and curtain, electronic stability control with anti-lock brakes and electronic brakeforce distribution sees the Scout well equipped with safety features as standard.
The Scout is fit for off-road activity and looks every bit the part, with its sleek grille, integrated fog lights, colour coded wheel arches, roof rails, 17-inch alloys and twin exhaust pipes. While its shape is stock standard wagon, these features add interest to the look.
The compact SUV segment in which the Scout sits throws out a diverse range of vehicles, from the sales topping Toyota RAV4, the Hyundai Tucson and Subaru Forester, to the Renault Koleos. The Scout fades into the background unfairly, with sales suffering as a result. The Scout is a solid performer and at $39,990* plus on road and dealer costs. It represents great value.
The Scout’s bling brings with it a premium of around $4,000 over the standard Octavia wagon. A questionable investment, but without a doubt, worth a drive.