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Skoda Scala review 2020

The Skoda is an ideal choice for those wanting a sensible and well-priced family hatchback.

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4
Out of 5

Pros

  • Spacious interior
  • Affordable pricing
  • Cheap to run

Cons

  • Plain driving experience
  • Expensive optional extras
  • Hesitant automatic gearbox
  • MPG

    55 - 70

  • CO2

    106 - 116 g/km

Model review

Skoda has always struggled to have a genuine Ford Focus-sized rival, with its Fabia hatchback being too small and the Octavia vastly bigger than a normal mid-size family car.


Buyers could choose the Rapid for a while, though it was an underwhelming proposition at best, and one few buyers considered. But in 2019 Skoda introduced the Scala – a true rival for the likes of the Vauxhall Astra and, most importantly, the all-conquering Ford Focus.

Prioritising affordability and usability, it’s been a great addition to the firm’s line-up, and with a design inspired by the Vision RS concept car, it’s quite a stylish model, too. Plenty of technology and safety features are also available, though you might have to go near the top of the price list to be able to take advantage of all of this.

Current model

Even though it’s not been on sale long, the Scala has already seen a number of changes introduced. The first is Skoda’s new digital assistant, which is an online-based voice control system called Laura. Think of it like Alexa for your car. It’s available on the top-spec media touchscreen.

The latest change has been the introduction of a sportier-looking top-spec Monte Carlo version, which helps to bring some additional flair to the Scala line-up. The differences are purely cosmetic, though, and don’t add any performance improvements. First deliveries of this top-spec model start in spring 2020.

Value for money

Crucially, the Scala undercuts all of its key rivals for price, with this Skoda being one of the most affordable family-sized hatchbacks on sale. With prices starting from just £16,945, it makes this model nearly £3,000 cheaper than an entry-level Ford Focus. All versions represent good value for money, though the top-spec Monte Carlo can be quite pricey – costing up to £25,000 even without options. Speaking of extras, we’d express caution about ticking too many boxes if you’re looking at a new Scala. That’s because the list is extensive, and it’s quite easy to get carried away and rack up the price. Skoda also asks too much for certain features – dual-zone climate control (£600) and an electric driver’s seat (£500) are both unnecessarily expensive options.

But where the Scala makes the most sense is on the used market, though all examples were still nearly-new at the time of writing. However, with six-month-old mid-spec SE models available for as little as £13,500, it represents quite a saving on the list price. Even delivery mileage cars are available with several thousand pounds off list price.

Looks and image

The Scala’s styling is rather trim dependent, as it looks rather plain in low-spec trims, but a bit more stylish if you opt for SE L and especially the sporty Monte Carlo derivatives. Various alloy wheel designs are on offer to improve the design, while choosing the ‘Tailgate Design Pack’ for £430 brings full LED rear lights and an extended glass tailgate to enhance the look. On the plus side, the design won’t divide opinion, while LED headlights come as standard.

But if you’re wanting your Scala to look to part – choose the Monte Carlo version, which features a panoramic glass roof, a black styling kit and full LED headlights. Oddly, you can choose this package on other Scala trim levels, but it’s unnecessarily expensive to do so. That said, if styling is key on your new hatch – you should consider the new Mazda3.

Space and practicality

Practicality and space are two things that the Scala is very good at – despite being based on the same platform as the compact Volkswagen Polo.

The boot is one of the areas where this Skoda seriously impresses, with 467 litres of room on offer with five seats in place – that’s vastly more than the 370 and 375 litres that you’d find with the Vauxhall Astra and Ford Focus respectively. That space also continues to exceed rivals when you fold the rear seats down, too – increasing the room on offer to 1,410 litres. Plenty of storage space is also dotted around the cabin, while the Scala benefits from many ‘Simply Clever’ features that this brand has become known for – a handy umbrella underneath the rear seat is a particularly practical touch.

Rear seat space is also generous, with the Scala being one of the best hatches in this class for room – especially for adults. Even with an optional panoramic sunroof added, it doesn’t really impact headroom, either.  Autonomous emergency braking and lane-keep assist are both fitted as standard.

  

Engines

While the Scala engine line-up isn’t quite as extensive as those in rivals, there will still be a powertrain to suit most tastes, though mild- and plug-in hybrids are yet to be introduced to this Skoda.

In terms of petrol units, the range kickstarts with a 94bhp 1.0-litre petrol engine mated to a five-speed manual transmission, while a 114bhp unit gets an extra gear, and also comes with the option of a seven-speed DSG automatic transmission.

If you fancy a bit of extra punch, you should choose the most powerful engine in the line-up – a 148bhp 1.5-litre petrol unit that’s available with the choice of manual or automatic gearbox. With this unit, the Scala can reach 0-60mph in eight seconds and hit a top speed of 137mph.

Drivers who cover more miles each year should consider the 113bhp 1.6-litre diesel unit, which is offered with both manual and automatic transmissions.

Running costs

Regardless of which engine you go for, all powertrain options are quite efficient and are unlikely to be expensive to run. The 1.6-litre diesel engine mated to a manual transmission will be the cheapest to live with, though, as it’s able to return up to 60.1mpg, while having low CO2 emissions of just 106g/km. That said, even the 1.5-litre petrol unit (the thirstiest) can still manage a claimed 45mpg, with CO2 emissions of 115g/km.

The low running costs also make it an appealing company car option, with the 1.0-litre petrol unit having a low benefit-in-kind of just 26 per cent.

Things to look out for

As the Scala is such a new model, little is known about its reliability, but on the whole Skoda has a superb record for the dependability of its cars – models such as the Octavia being especially well regarded. The only thing to note is that the 1.5-litre TSI petrol engine available here, and widely across the Volkswagen Group, is known for not being especially reliable.

  

Rivals

Despite the rise in popularity of crossovers, the mid-size family hatchback class remains one of the most competitive of any – not least from the best-selling Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra. Other rivals worth considering include the Hyundai i30, Kia Ceed and Peugeot 308, too. If you fancy something a little more upmarket, the Mazda3 and Volkswagen Golf are also both worth considering.

Depreciation

With the Scala not being hugely exclusive or desired, it means that it’s depreciated more than rivals, with sizeable savings off models with minimal miles on the clock, and one-year-old versions available for the same price as a budget supermini.

Which Scala to Pick

Cheapest to Buy When New

1.0 TSI S 5dr

Most MPG

1.6 TDI SE 5dr

Fastest Model (0-60)

1.5 TSI SE 5dr

Trims Explained

Four trim levels are available – S, SE, SE L and Monte Carlo. Equipment highlights and pricing are as follows.

'S'

Standard equipment includes 16-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and a 6.5-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth and DAB radio. It’s also fitted with air-conditioning, a space saver spare wheel, a trip computer and electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors. In terms of safety kit, it’s fitted with autonomous emergency braking, lane-keep assist, emergency call services and speed limiter.

Priced from £16,940

'SE'

This grade adds more convenience features – including cruise control, rear parking sensors, front fog lights and automatic lights and wipers. It’s also fitted with an alarm, additional storage spaces and a larger eight-inch touchscreen with smartphone mirroring.

Priced from £18,130

'SE L'

High-spec SE L models feature larger 17-inch alloy wheels, electric folding door mirrors and full LED rear lights with scrolling indicators. It also adds keyless entry and start, as well as microsuede upholstery and dual-zone climate control. On the tech front, it adds a large 9.2-inch touchscreen with satellite navigation and online services, as well as a digital cockpit.

Priced from £19,930

'Monte Carlo'

If you’re wanting a sportier flavour, you should choose the Monte Carlo. It adds a sporty styling pack, red interior accents, as well as a panoramic glass roof, as well as an extended rear glass tailgate (as mentioned earlier).

Priced from £22,680

Summary

  1. Spacious boot
  2. More affordable than rivals
  3. Range starts from £16,940
  4. Generous rear seat space
  5. Plenty of trim and engine choice
  6. Efficient diesel engine
  7. Bland design on low-spec models
  8. Monte Carlo version offers sporty looks
  9. Expensive optional extras
  10. A great family hatchback

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