Car reviews - Skoda - Octavia - Scout 110TDI 4x4
Rough road capability with no sealed road compromises, Euro branding without the sting
Room for improvement
Firm rear seat bases, silly small front cupholders
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7 Jun 2016
By TIM ROBSON
Price and equipment
ON PAPER, Skoda should be selling a lot more cars than it is currently. The Volkswagen Group-owned brand retains enough autonomy to present as a genuine alternative to the mid-pack of Japanese and Korean fare, and it has the value chops to back its position.
The Octavia Scout follows in the wheel tracks of cars such as the Subaru Outback and Volvo XC70, but is priced lower than both. VW has also recently launched the Passat Alltrack into the Australian market and the Golf lobbed Down Under in September last year, but as it sits, the Scout leads the troop in value.
The exterior treatment of the Scout not only sets it apart from its Octavia donor car, but it adds a modicum of durability to the body. Plastic overfenders and lower sills will keep both bushes and errant car park dings at bay, while the lower-profile bumpers will negotiate steep driveways more easily.
Riding 31mm higher than the stock car on its 17-inch rims, the grille, foglamps, mirror caps and roof rails are also unique to the Scout. There’s also some light underbody protection at the front of the Scout.
Our manual 110TDI 4x4 retails at $32,990 before on-road costs, and comes out of the box with an impressive array of standard inclusions, including a 6.5-inch infotainment touchscreen system, 17-inch alloys, rain-sensing wipers, voice-controlled Bluetooth connectivity, multi-collision brake system, nine airbags and rearview camera and sensors.
Adding a $4400 Premium Pack nets an 8.0-inch colour touchscreen with Apple and Android phone compatibility and sat-nav, dual-zone climate control, privacy glass, automatic tailgate, aluminium pedals, coloured mirror caps, roof rails and manually adjustable heated part leather and Alcantara seats.
Premium paint is an additional $500, while those wanting a diesel auto will have to plump for the 132TDI which, at $41,390 before on-roads, comes equipped with most of the Tech and Premium Pack inclusions as standard.
The rest of the interior – bespoke to the Scout – is decked with typically clever Skoda touches. Rear seat passengers are looked after with vents, lights and a centre armrest with cupholders, though the centre rear seat is a small child-only proposition at best.
The Scout’s capacity for stuff is impressive, with 588 litres of stowage with the seats up and 1718 litres with them down. Grocery hooks, cargo dividers, a 12V charging socket, a quick-release cargo blind and a neat double-side rubber-backed mat are all standard additions to the rear area, giving the Scout a real edge in the practicality stakes.
The driver’s position in the Scout is typical VW fare sufficiently low-slung, with good visibility and reach to the important controls. The gap between Volkswagen and Skoda specs seems to have reduced over the years, and even though some oddities exist – size XS central console cupholders, for one – you’re not missing out on much with the Scout.
Even though the price out of the box is more than reasonable, the optional Tech Pack is a worthy $3900 upgrade. For less than $40k before on-roads, you can have a Scout with a full suite of active safety technology including adaptive cruise with lane departure assist, stop-start keyless ignition, bi-Xenon headlights and LED running lamps and automatic parking.
Compare that to the equivalent (albeit larger) Subaru Outback 2.0D Premium at $42,990 before on-roads, for example, and you’re coming out ahead in the Skoda.
Engine and transmission
A fifth-generation Haldex five-clutch all-wheel-drive system that’s bolted to VW Group's MQB platform underpins the Scout, with an electronic locking diff accompanying a six-speed manual gearbox.
The Haldex system – also used in VW and Audi AWD variants – sends the majority of drive to the front wheels under normal running, dispatching traction to the wheels that need it most if the going gets slippery. It’s still a mechanical system, so there is always a small percentage of drive available at the rear tyres.
Stepping up to the Tech pack also nets adjustable drive mode functionality that includes an off-road mode, which can be used to tune that output of grip if so desired.
The 110TDI runs the ubiquitous 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel four-potter than features widely across the VW kingdom, and it offers up a surprisingly refined and eminently tractable 110kW and 340Nm.
The six-speed manual might not find favour with many Aussies, but it’s a beauty in the Scout, with an easy-action clutch and positive throw.
With the car weighing around 1560kg, the claimed fuel figure of 5.3 litres per 100 kilometres is a bit of a surprise, too. Over 600km of combined driving with a full load of gear aboard, we saw an indicated figure of 5.6L/100km.
Ride and handling
The extra 31mm of ride height on the Scout makes no appreciable difference to the car’s cruising behaviour, aside from a slightly more compliant ride than its Octavia brethren.
It’s certainly not soft nor ungainly in roll, pitch or yaw, and its steering feel is firm and acceptably feelsome underhand via its electric control system.
The rigid MQB underpinnings bring out the best in most VW products when it comes to noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) suppression and ride comfort, and the Scout is certainly no exception. Higher profile 225/50 series tyres help here, too.
Docile, quiet and compliant on long highway runs, the Scout is tractable and predictable on gravel and dirt roads, and its relatively compact size helps it in tighter urban terrain.
Safety and servicing
The ANCAP five-star-rated Skoda is – like any good Scout – prepared for the worst, with nine airbags (including driver knee and front and rear side bags), rearview camera and sensors, post-crash autonomous brakes and an electronic limited slip diff.
The Tech pack adds pre-crash autonomous braking, adaptive cruise control with lane departure assist, belt pre-tensioning and pre-accident window closing,Skoda offers a Care Pack at $2099 that adds two years to the three-year unlimited kilometre warranty, as well as providing two years of scheduled servicing. The company also offers the five-year warranty to cars bought via Skoda’s own buyback finance scheme.
Capped-priced servicing is also available up to 72 months or 90,000km, kicking off at $292 at 12 months and peaking at $762 at 48 months.
Skoda’s wagons have always been a sound emotional and economic choice for buyers looking for something that’s both practical and unusual. The Scout offers a genuine alternative to the popular Outback, and is more affordable than its stablemate Passat Alltrack.
If you want SUV packaging practicality without the bulk, the Scout is a great alternative.
Subaru Outback 2.0d Premium from $42,990 plus on-road costs
Subaru kicked off the high-riding wagon category with the L series in the late 1980s, and the Outback is the most popular of the current generation. It has grown in size over the years, though, and is now a large car compared to the Scout.
Volkswagen Passat Alltrack from $49,290 plus on-road costs
The newest addition to the high-rider wagon ranks is also one of the more expensive. Available in just one high-spec grade, the Passat Alltrack is almost too nice to get dirty.
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