The second-generation Skoda Octavia Scout crossover will launch in Australia around April next year with an expanded range of powertrains including, for the first time locally, a petrol engine.
While final Australian pricing and specifications are still being determined, Skoda’s local arm is making a more serious play at the local market this time around with its all-wheel-drive, jacked-up and body-clad Octavia wagon derivative.
It will be the latest step in a process of renewal for the niche Czech-based car-maker, a subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group. Inside the past 12 months it has launched the all-new Octavia, its sporty RS derivatives, the smaller Rapid hatchback and an upgraded Yeti compact SUV range.
Over and above the regular Octavia donor car, Scout models add a permanently ready all-wheel-drive system, black plastic body mouldings, some different cabin trim and logos, tougher front and rear lower bumpers and 31mm of extra ride height.
The Scout is still about six months away from Australian launch, but unlike the previous model that was a 103kW/320Nm diesel-only proposition (and only gained an automatic option well after launch), this new one will from the get-go include three powertrain options, including a petrol.
These are the entry level 110TDI, which has a 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine producing 110kW/320Nm while using 5.1 litres per 100 kilometres of diesel.
However, as this variant is matched exclusively to a six-speed manual gearbox (unlike the same engine in the regular Octavia, which is DSG only locally), it seems destined to be a price-leader, but not a volume-seller in auto-favouring Australia.
Higher up the diesel food chain is the 135kW/380Nm (from 1750rpm) 135TDI, which gets the same higher-performance oil-burner as the Octavia RS diesel, as well as the forthcoming new-generation VW Passat, matched exclusively to a six-speed DSG automatic.
This engine allows the Scout to dash from 0-100km/h in 7.8 seconds — faster than the front-drive RS diesel in Australia thanks perhaps to its AWD grip off the line — but still keeps fuel consumption to a claimed 5.1L/100km on the combined cycle.
The bigger news is the arrival of a petrol option, in the form of the 1.8-litre 132TSI producing 132kW and 280Nm (from 1350rpm). As with the 135TDI, this unit is matched exclusively to a DSG, a unit with six ratios (the 132TSI version of the front-drive Octavia has a seven-speed DSG, a result of its different driveline).
Combined-cycle fuel use on the European cycle is 6.9L/100km, while the 0-100km/h sprint is dispatched in an identical 7.8sec.
The local launch of all three models will occur simultaneously, according to Skoda. Global demand for all Octavia models is presently running at levels above supply from the company’s Czech plant, but the company expects to meet Australian demand for this model.
As before, all Scout models are sold exclusively with all-wheel-drive, just like its Subaru Outback arch-rival, a new-generation version of which is scheduled to arrive in Australia shortly before the Scout. In its European core markets, demand for front-drive Scouts is sparse.
Likewise, do not expect ‘RS’ versions, any more powerful petrol iterations or a sedan body-style to emerge any time soon. Nevertheless, the range is set to be a more serious player than its ‘toe-in-the-water’ predecessor, of which only 852 were delivered between 2009 and 2013.
Despite those minute figures in Australia, Skoda sold about 54,000 of the previous-generation Scout globally, equating to about 8 per cent of all Octavia sales over the period. This model is expected to take this ratio higher.
The AWD system on this new model is a new-generation Haldex 5 system, referring to the style of clutch used (it’s 1.4 kilograms lighter than Haldex 4). The front-biased system can send a variable chunk of engine torque to the rear axle. A control unit monitors for wheel spin, and assesses steering angle and vehicle speed.
There is also a standard electronic differential lock that operates on the front and rear axles and transmits drive force to the opposite wheel if it detects spin while off-roading, while braking the spinning wheel.
Skoda claims this new Scout has 25 per cent more traction than the old one when towing under load, and has improved approach and departure angles (16.7 degrees and 13.8 degrees respectively). It can tow up to 2000kg (braked).
Skoda will also option you up into a rough-road package that adds wider 220/50 R17 tyres on 17-inch rims, sitting astride lower bash plates (cost unknown as yet).
Underneath all Scouts sits an optimised multi-link rear axle, while the MacPherson strut at the front with low-mounted triangular wishbones has shed around 2.8kg compared to the previous model, the company claims.
Emphasising Skoda’s brief to focus on practicality, the wagon body offers a 610-litre boot capacity, of 1740L with the seats folded. With the front passenger seat folded down, items up to 2.92 metres in length can also be accommodated.
The Scout also has clever touches such as a double-sided floor cover in the boot, folding cargo fasteners, an ice scraper in the fuel filler flap (for the snow bunnies), a high-visibility vest holder under the driver’s seat and a heap of cabin hidey-holes.
Safety technology includes nine airbags. Options, likely as part of an extra-cost package of some sorts locally, include low-speed autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane assist, multi-collision brakes that stop the car post-impact, and fatigue recognition software.
Expect specification levels in terms of cabin fittings and infotainment to broadly mirror the regular Octavia, with higher-power Scouts likely to be reminiscent by-and-large of the Octavia RS or Elegance models.
The matter of local pricing is still a little up in the air, and if Skoda’s Australian arm has firmed up its figures, it’s not sharing them with us. However, it is possible to narrow things down.
For context, the old Scout retailed from between $39,490 plus on-road costs for the base manual diesel, through to $45,790 for the premium DSG. The RS135 Octavia RS with front-drive is $41,140, while the front-drive Octavia with the 132TSI engine is $36,040.
Given the 110TDI is a manual-only price leader, we expect pricing somewhere around $37,000. The 110TDI Octavia front-drive with DSG costs $36,840, and logic would indicate the cheaper manual on the Scout version would neatly cancel out the Haldex system and cladding.
This would point to the 132TSI version with a DSG priced somewhere just shy of $40,000, with the 135TDI topping the range in the low-$40K range. A price structure broadly equivalent to the RS versions would seem about on the money, a similar situation to Europe.
Stay posted for our first drive review of the Skoda Octavia Scout coming well before the end of the week. Full Australian prices and specifications will be available closer to launch.