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Driven: Skoda Octavia Scout. Image by Skoda.

Driven: Skoda Octavia Scout
Skoda once again hits the Octavia target with the super Scout.

 



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Skoda Octavia Scout

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

Good points: very comfortable, spacious, suitably different to regular Octavia.

Not so good: Octavia vRS is cheaper...

Key Facts

Model tested: Skoda Octavia Scout 2.0 TDI 184 4x4 DSG
Price: Scout 184 from 27,990, car as tested 30,430; Octavia Scout range starts from 25,405
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel
Transmission: four-wheel drive, six-speed DSG automatic
Body style: five-door crossover estate
CO2 emissions: 134g/km (Band E, 130 annually)
Combined economy: 55.4mpg
Top speed: 136mph
0-62mph: 7.8 seconds
Power: 184hp at 3,500- to 4,000rpm
Torque: 380Nm at 1,750- to 3,250rpm

Our view:

Skoda, of all the Volkswagen Group companies, is the one that currently doesn't appear to have an SUV strategy. Audi is awash with the things and there are more on the way; a Q1, probably, and also some sort of TT-based model too. Volkswagen itself has the Tiguan and Touareg, Porsche has a pair of SUVs that still court controversy wherever they go, while even SEAT and Bentley - previously fallow ground for fans of each marque who desired a proper 4x4 - are readying their creations for market in the coming months.

Which leaves Mlada Boleslav looking perilously short on the things. OK, so Skoda would counter that there's the excellent Yeti Outdoor, and we'd concede that it's a rugged-looking thing, but a proper 4x4? No. And in the absence of such a thing, this Octavia Scout is about the best you'll get from a car company that normally tends to cover all the bases. So is the Scout good enough to tempt SUV buyers into a high-riding estate car swathed in plastic? Or, indeed, out of the rival models that all of the mainstream Volkswagen Group brands also possess, like the Golf Alltrack, Leon X-Perience and Audi allroads?

Well, Skoda couldn't have picked a better base car from which to start. The Octavia wagon is handsome, huge and represents excellent value-for-money without feeling in the remotest bit 'bargain basement'. The Scout treatment is as predictable as ever in this segment, amounting to underbody protection, those grey protective hemlines and a ride height a full 33mm taller than the regular Octavia's. Distinctive 17-inch 'Polar' alloys are unique to the off-road version, too.

There's badging outside and in, and on the latter score the colour brown features quite heavily, as if to visually reinforce the message to occupants that this is a mud-plugger. Further Scout badges and sill trims keep the theme going, meaning that the Skoda doesn't fall into the trap of some of its rivals - namely, that once behind the wheel, you're totally unaware that you've splashed out a significant extra chunk of money on the off-road model. The Scout always feels suitably, er... scout-ish compared to a regular Octavia.

As the more powerful of the pair of 2.0-litre TDI lumps on offer, the 184hp Scout comes only with a six-speed DSG gearbox, which is fine with little to report in the way of problems. In fact, the whole drivetrain is a delight, being the engine used in the vRS diesel. It doesn't feel lost here, the Octavia Scout pulling strongly throughout the rev range and proving to be a surprisingly swift conveyance.

Fuel economy is impressive, considering the Scout makes more of an impact in the airstream than a normal Octavia and has four-wheel drive too, with a real-world near-50mpg average admirably close to the official combined figure of 55.4mpg. And it's clean too. Compared to, say, the Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer, the Skoda is so much greener that it makes total sense to opt for it. The Vauxhall is in VED Band H, requiring 295 of tax in year one and 205 every year after that. The Octavia is a flat 130 per year. You won't get many more affordable crossover estates than that.

It's also supremely comfortable and again, this is not always the case with this type of car. While raising the suspension and fitting plump off-road rubber should normally result in a better ride than the standard car, there are vehicles in this market that don't display any extra suppleness. Not the Scout. Even by the exemplary ride qualities of the regular Octavia Estate, the Scout is at a slightly elevated level... if you'll forgive the pun. Never once do you feel lumps or bumps in the road surface, while body control hasn't gone out the window for the sake of serenity. Road-holding is very good, if not sparkling, but it's not like the Scout has an unwelcome extra helping of understeer to sour the Octavia's taste.

Obviously, this soft suspension would work wonders off tarmac, as would the improved approach/departure angles of the Scout, but to be honest the vast majority of owners are never going to notice either of these things. Apart from the nose of the Scout being able to ride over low-lying kerbs in supermarket car parks without catching, perhaps. So its 4WD capability is more likely to come into effect during harsh winters, when front-driven Octavias might find the snowy going a bit tougher.

The Scout also comes with a healthy kit list as standard, including 'Amundsen' touchscreen satnav, cruise control, lane assist, light and rain sensors and more. Options on our car amounted to the bi-Xenon, steering Adaptive Frontlight System (AFS) with LED daytime running lamps (900), cornering front fog lights (100), chrome window surrounds (250), a clever, double-sided boot floor (75), a temporary space saver spare tyre (75), stainless steel pedals (85), the Winter Pack (heated seats, windscreen and washer nozzles for a 430 outlay) and metallic paint (525, and you'll see a lot of Scouts finished in signature Denim Blue). Thus equipped, it exceed 30 grand but that's still pretty good money for such a practical, giant machine - with a 610- to 1,760-litre boot and the ability to tow 2,000kg of braked trailer, it would suit as an all-weather, all-round family motor.

So you can tell that the Scout is on for a high score here, as in isolation it's a splendid vehicle on all counts. The problem with all of these jacked-up, lantern-jawed outdoorsy wagons is this: how good is the regular estate car on which it's based? In the case of pretty much all of them, the answer is usually: good enough that there's little point opting for the more expensive plastic-clad version. And the regular Skoda Octavia Estate is a simply superb car (if we're not getting our Czech motors mixed up a bit here). Indeed, the vRS Estate starts at 375 less than the entry-level Scout, so if you're after performance and sharp exterior looks, you're better off choosing one of those.

But in this instance, we think there's space for the Scout in the Skoda line-up, mainly because of that current lack of SUVs. There is no alternative if you want four-wheel drive with the Skoda badge on the front of your car. Luckily, the Scout is well-equipped, comfy, rapid, frugal and sure-footed in all conditions. It's hard to think of anything better... although there is the mechanically identical SEAT Leon X-Perience. Oddly enough, its Spanish cousin is the Skoda's biggest threat.

Alternatives:

SEAT Leon X-Perience: to all intents and purposes, this is the same car with the same drivetrains as the Octavia Scout. Which one you choose is a matter of pure taste, as they do things equally brilliantly.

Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer: pricey compared to the Octavia and not as easy to differentiate from a normal Insignia wagon, it's an acceptable effort from Luton but not the most desirable car in the class.

Volkswagen Passat Alltrack: brilliant new version is probably the best of the SUV-estates on the market right now.


Matt Robinson - 13 Jul 2015









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2015 Skoda Octavia Scout. Image by Skoda.2015 Skoda Octavia Scout. Image by Skoda.2015 Skoda Octavia Scout. Image by Skoda.2015 Skoda Octavia Scout. Image by Skoda.2015 Skoda Octavia Scout. Image by Skoda.


2015 Skoda Octavia Scout. Image by Skoda.
 

2014 Skoda Octavia Scout. Image by Skoda.
 

2014 Skoda Octavia Scout. Image by Skoda.
 

2014 Skoda Octavia Scout. Image by Skoda.
 

2014 Skoda Octavia Scout. Image by Skoda.
 






 

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