What’s Hot: Well-rounded engine range, drives great on and off road, value for money.
What’s Not: No auto for base model, too many hard cabin plastics.
X-FACTOR: Skoda’s Scout offers the right blend of rugged styling and carlike comfort in a well-specced, practical package.
Vehicle Style: Medium crossover wagon
Price: $32,990 (110TDI - $41,390 (135TDI)
110kW/340Nm 2.0 turbo diesel 4cyl | 6spd manual
132kW/280Nm 1.8 turbo petrol 4cyl | 6spd twin-clutch auto
135kW/380Nm 2.0 turbo diesel 4cyl | 6spd twin-clutch auto
110TDI and 135TDI: 5.3 l/100km | tested: 6.0 l/100km (135TDI)
132TSI: 7.1 l/100km | tested: 10.2 l/100km
The new Octavia Scout is here, better than ever before and more affordable to boot.
Priced at $32,990 for the 110TDI entrypoint, this keenly-priced crossover makes a fine rival for Subaru’s still-fresh Outback range but holds a $3000 to $6000 price advantage over the Sube right through the range.
It’s also a more broadly-appealing offering now, not only because Skoda has taken the razor to its pricing ($7000 has been slashed from the 110TDI), but also thanks to a wider choice of powertrains - three in total, compared to just the one previously.
We travelled to Tasmania to sample the range on a variety of local roads. Disappointments were few.
- Power windows, leather upholstered steering wheel, 17-inch alloys, fog lamps, cruise control, trip computer, 5.8-inch infotainment display, rear view camera, reverse parking sensors, USB audio input, Bluetooth connectivity.
- Premium grade adds: Heated front seats, 8-inch colour infotainment display, sat-nav, powered tailgate, Alcantara trim, alloy pedals.
- Luggage space: 588 litres minimum, 1718 litres maximum.
It’s a dark interior here, with the only respite from the black plastics and black upholstery being the occasional strip of chrome and the strange metallic faux-wood trim on the dash and door trims.
It feels solid and well-built, but for our tastes there are too many hard surfaces. Even some of the soft-touch areas - like on the tops of doors - are only just slightly more yielding than granite.
Besides that, there’s space aplenty and decent equipment levels to enjoy.
The driving position is low and carlike, the view outside is clear, the cushioning is great for long stints and the Alcantara/leather trim on the Premium grade cars is especially pleasant.
Back-seat space is also plentiful, though not quite as expansive as the Subaru Outback and lacking that car’s adjustable backrest feature.
Rear air-vents are standard, and backseaters get to enjoy a generously-sized fold-down centre armrest with integrated cupholders.
Moving further rearward you’ll find a capacious 588 litre boot, the largest in a crossover wagon. Drop the 60/40 split seats via their boot-mounted release handles, and you get 1718 litres in total.
Predictably, it’s the Premium that offers the more enticing interior.
Though it’s presented almost identically to the regular Scout, the Scout Premium models feature more standard equipment to make driving just that little more pleasant.
Features like a larger 8-inch colour touchscreen with sat-nav, a powered tailgate, dual-zone climate control and heated seats.
However, while the previous-gen Scout Premium scored a power-adjustable driver’s seat, that feature is a $1300 option on the 2015 model.
ON THE ROAD
- 110kW/340Nm 2.0 turbo diesel 4cyl | 6sp manual
- 132kW/280Nm 1.8 turbo petrol 4cyl | 6sp twin-clutch auto
- 135kW/380Nm 2.0 turbo diesel 4cyl | 6sp twin-clutch auto
- MacPherson strut front, multi-link rear suspension
- 4Motion AWD
- Disc brakes all around
Despite sitting at the bottom of the range, the 110TDI is no slouch.
With 110kW of power and 340Nm of torque from its 2.0 litre displacement, the 110TDI has ample pulling power and easily cruises along in high gear.
Its only problem is that there’s no auto transmission available, and there’s no news of one being added to the line-up down the line. The Outback, with its across-the-board availability of automatics, doesn’t suffer this problem.
Instead, you’ll need to jump to the $38,590 Octavia Scout 132TSI Premium to find an automatic.
The 132TSI, as it happens, is our pick of the range. With a price point in the high $30s, a smooth, willing 1.8 litre turbo petrol engine and a higher level of standard specification, it’s got the most appeal by far.
But that’s not to say the 135TDI flagship is not without its charms either.
Its 135kW/380Nm 2.0 litre turbo diesel makes light work of bolting around slower traffic and will have no problem carrying a load, but its $41,390 price-tag is less attractive than the sub-$40k 132TSI given their identical equipment levels.
For fuel economy, both diesels drink an identical 5.3 litres per 100km on the combined cycle. The 132TSI records a high 7.1 l/100km figure, and we found it needed 10.2 l/100km on our test drive.
No matter which model you go for, the handling is just as well-resolved in each. The damping is spot-on for lumpy roads, with just a slightly brittle ride over small corrugations.
On gravel, it’s even better.
Every Octavia Scout gets the latest evolution of the VW Group’s 4Motion Haldex AWD driveline, and it now reacts faster to traction losses at the front axle.
And with 31mm more ground clearance than the regular Octavia, the Scout can easily roll over most poorly-kept gravel roads.
A total ground clearance of 171mm means proper 4WDing is out of the question, but the Scout should be able to take you pretty far into the wilderness regardless.
Accelerating hard on gravel sees a greater proportion of drive sent to the rear axle, and the Octavia will even adopt a slightly tail-out attitude if you command it to.
Even if you don’t, it’s a predictable chassis that feels well-suited to long drives on unsealed roads.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
With three engine choices, healthy levels of standard equipment and a much lower price of entry, the new Octavia Scout 4x4 range is an excellent crossover that should find favour with SUV-weary buyers who still want the promise of an AWD adventure.
The absence of an automatic option for the 110TDI is regrettable, though Skoda Australia says nothing can be done about it at this stage.
Accordingly, it’s the 132TSI and 135TDI that are expected to be the volume sellers.
Interior presentation is a debit; the presence of too many hard surfaces takes some of the shine off the package.
Will we warm to the interior after a longer period behind the wheel? That remains to be seen when we give the new Skoda a longer test.
On the whole though, the new Scout is well-priced, well-featured, and an appealing drive out in its natural habitat of wider open spaces.
Pricing (excludes on-road costs)
The full Skoda Octavia Scout 4x4 range is available now, with pricing as follows:
- Octavia Scout 4x4 110TDI manual: $32,990
- Octavia Scout 4x4 132TSI auto: $38,590
- Octavia Scout 4x4 135TDI auto: $41,390
- Premium Pack (110TDI only): $4,400
- Tech Pack: $3900 for 110TDI and 132TSI, $3300 for 135TDI
- Metallic paint: $500
- Panoramic sunroof: $1690
- Electric front seats: $1300