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First drive: 2017MY Skoda Octavia Scout. Image by Skoda.

First drive: 2017MY Skoda Octavia Scout
Facelifted and given extra kit, the updated Skoda Octavia Scout remains a quality wagon.

 



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2017MY Skoda Octavia Scout

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No major changes for the Skoda Octavia Scout 2017 range, beyond those already debuted on the rest of the Octavia family. But as the Scout was a brilliant car anyway, and it competes in a narrow, specialised field, the updated 'soft-road' estate remains a strong contender that should make buyers think twice about going for a full-on SUV instead.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Skoda Octavia Scout TDI 150
Pricing: Scout from 26,525 (for car as tested)
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel
Transmission: all-wheel drive, six-speed manual
Body style: five-door crossover estate
CO2 emissions: 130g/km (160 first 12 months, 140 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 56.5mpg
Top speed: 129mph
0-62mph: 9.1 seconds
Power: 150hp at 3,500- to 4,000rpm
Torque: 340Nm at 1,750- to 3,000rpm

What's this?

The Skoda Octavia Scout, a 'lifestyle estate'. That means it has a raised ride height (30mm above a regular Octavia Estate), four-wheel drive, rugged body extrusions and styling, and an air of adventure and intrigue about it that is lacking on your common or garden Czech wagon. Or so Skoda, and all the car companies, would have us believe of these black-plastic-clad machines. Thing is, while there are plenty of larger, more expensive crossover estates to choose from (Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer, Volkswagen Passat Alltrack, Audi A4 allroad quattro, Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain and Volvo V90 Cross Country, for example), at this C-segment level, the Skoda's only two rivals are Volkswagen Group vehicles, which are mechanically identical underneath: the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack and the SEAT Leon X-Perience.

So the Skoda's long-time USP - which is that it feels considerably bigger inside than a Golf/Leon/Audi A3 and yet it typically costs less than all of them, despite having more equipment - should surely make this class leader, then? Indeed, it should certainly make it a reasonable alternative to the Passat Alltrack, which is considerably dearer given its premium aspirations.

Well, that's what we're aiming to find out by driving this updated model. Like all Octavias, it gets that contentious split-headlights face (we'll say no more), a goodly amount of additional equipment within and a 30mm-wider rear track, to hopefully aid stability and ride comfort. Unlike other models in the wider Octavia line-up, nothing else has really changed with the off-roading variant. That means a very simple-to-understand product offering: if you want a Scout, you're going to end up with a four-wheel-drive, 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel estate. All you can decide is whether you want 150hp, 340Nm, 56.5mpg, 0-62mph in 9.1 seconds and a six-speed manual gearbox, as tested here, for 26,525, or 184hp, 380Nm, 55.4mpg, 0-62mph in 7.8 seconds and a six-speed DSG automatic transmission, for 29,450. Most are predicted to go for the former.

One quick note on those prices: they're fine compared to the natural Golf and Leon rivals, and they are obviously well below anything remotely similar in the lifestyle vein from the classes above, but by the same token if you just want a nice estate car and you really don't need the ground clearance and four-wheel drive, a regular 150hp TDI Octavia Estate SE is more than 4,000 cheaper. Worth bearing in mind...

How does it drive?

Plushly. An odd word, perhaps (it's not actually a word... - Ed), but it's the best way to describe the fabulous manner in which the Octavia Scout 150 loafs along the road. That taller suspension is also softer in order to accommodate the Skoda's potential off-roading duties and while that sacrifices some of the handling tautness of a regular or vRS Octavia (there's more body lean and less precision about the front axle in the Scout), what it ultimately leads to is ride comfort that's second-to-none.

The Octavia Scout, without ever letting its body start bouncing away violently on its springs (calm down at the back, there...) in a sick-inducing fashion, simply oozes along middling road surfaces while transmitting precisely nothing of the imperfections beneath its tyres into the cabin. It might lack the handling vivacity of the vRS TDI it is so closely related to, but there's a fluency to the Scout that means you can still make decent progress through the twisty bits without having to mercilessly cane the living daylights out of the 150hp four-pot motor.

This is a good thing, not because the TDI is uncultured, but because the six-speed manual gearbox isn't the slickest operator in the world. It's not an actively bad transmission, though, and spending just a few miles behind the 150's wheel will soon convince you that there's little need to fork out the additional 2,925 to sit in the Scout 184. This engine is an admirable operator, smooth and quiet during meaningful acceleration, while utterly hushed on the motorway.

There is a little more wind rustling at speed than in a standard Octavia, courtesy of the Scout's additional ride height, but overall the Skoda's on-road performance is polished and highly commendable. And the same is true off the tarmac. OK, if you're determined to go mud-plugging in deepest, darkest Dorset during winter, the Scout isn't going to compare to a winch-equipped old Discovery Td5 on silly-chunky all-terrain tyres, but on the other hand the Skoda should be more than capable of negotiating a snow-bound country lane with little difficulty. It has decent approach and departure angles (the latter improved to 14.5 degrees by the facelift) and some proper underbody protection, which means it can take on some fairly intimidating axle articulation and the like should needs be.

Verdict

If the vRS is the thrilling model of the updated Skoda Octavia range and a 'normal' example is the tidy all-rounder, then the Scout is the comfort king. No Octavia is jittery to ride in but this jacked-up estate is clearly the most supple in the suspension stakes. It also manages to carry off the fussy headlight treatment of the MkIII facelift better than any other Octavia, mainly because it has quite a busy front end to begin with. Anyway, that aside, nothing dramatically transformative has happened to the Scout during this midlife update, which means the resulting car is as relevant, competitive and highly desirable as ever.

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

5 5 5 5 5 Passenger Space

5 5 5 5 5 Luggage Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Safety

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Comfort

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 15 Apr 2017









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2017 Skoda Octavia Scout. Image by Skoda.2017 Skoda Octavia Scout. Image by Skoda.2017 Skoda Octavia Scout. Image by Skoda.2017 Skoda Octavia Scout. Image by Skoda.2017 Skoda Octavia Scout. Image by Skoda.

2017 Skoda Octavia Scout. Image by Skoda.2017 Skoda Octavia Scout. Image by Skoda.2017 Skoda Octavia Scout. Image by Skoda.2017 Skoda Octavia Scout. Image by Skoda.2017 Skoda Octavia Scout. Image by Skoda.








 

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