SKODA has lifted the lid on its all-new Scala hatchback that has increased in size and gained more standard safety and comfort features than the Rapid that it replaces.
Revealed at an event in Tel Aviv, the new Scala will take the fight to its Volkswagen Golf cousin, as well as other contenders in the segment such as the Ford Focus, Hyundai i30, Mazda3, Holden Astra, Toyota Corolla and Peugeot 308.
As reported, the Scala replaces the slow-selling Rapid Spaceback that launched in Australia in mid-2014, about two years after it went on sale globally.
The Rapid has struggled to gain traction in Australia’s super-competitive small-car market, averaging between 30 and 70 units per month, which has kept it at the back end of the segment.
Volkswagen Group Australia general manager of corporate communications Paul Pottinger told GoAuto that deliveries of the new Scala will kick off in about a year, with the order books open from quarter three next year.
The Scala’s design was previewed by the striking Vision RS concept from this year’s Paris motor show, but, unsurprisingly, it has been toned down for the production version.
It ushers in the next iteration of Skoda’s design language and it is also the first model from the Czech car-maker to feature the brand name in black caps on the tailgate, instead of just using the badge.
While it is an all-new design, some styling elements carry over from the Rapid, including the blacked out upper section of the tailgate just under the rear windscreen.
The new model is based on Volkswagen Group’s ubiquitous MQB platform and it has grown in all dimensions, including length (4362mm, +58mm) width (1793mm, +87mm), height (1471mm, +12mm) and wheelbase (2649mm, +47mm).
Skoda says the larger dimensions have helped increase interior space, while cargo space is also up from the Rapid’s 384 litres or 1349L with the rear seats folded, to 467L/1410L in the Scala.
As reported, the all-new cabin gains a segment-leading 9.2-inch information display at the top of the centre stack, and the 10.25-inch Virtual Cockpit digital instrument cluster is offered as an option.
The front door trims feature a soft-foam surface with a texture that the company says resembles “crystalline structures” – a design element that will carry across to other future Skodas.
In Europe, the Scala will be offered with three VW Group turbo-petrol engines, including two three-cylinder 1.0-litre units delivering 70kW/175Nm and 85kW/200Nm and a 1.5-litre donk pumping out 110kW/250Nm.
It will also be available with a 1.6-litre turbo-diesel offering 85kW/250Nm and a 1.0-litre 66kW/145Nm CNG natural gas powertrain.
Five- and six-speed manuals and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission will be offered, depending on the powerplant.
At this stage, the diesel and CNG units are all but ruled out for Australia and concerns around Australia’s poor fuel quality have put a question mark next to the 1.0-litre offerings, leaving the 1.5L as the most likely powertrain for Australia.
The Vision RS concept previewed a plug-in hybrid powertrain, which is expected to be offered in the production Scala.
In terms of an Australian launch for the PHEV, Mr Pottinger told GoAuto: “PHEV would certainly be considered, but the question of powertrains very much depends on availability. We are seeking clarity.”
The Scala will be offered with an optional Sport Chassis Control that lowers the chassis by 15mm and features a Sport mode (as well as Normal mode) that firms up the shock absorbers for sportier ride and handling.
Safety wise it features up to nine airbags, LED head and tail-lights as standard, Multi-Collision Brake and Crew Protect Assist that automatically closes all windows and pre-tensions the front seatbelts in the event of an impending crash.
It also gains Side Assist that can detect vehicles up to 70 metres away, Lane Assist and Front Assist with City Emergency Braking, as well as optional adaptive cruise control and a driver fatigue alert.
Skoda says the Scala – which is Latin for stairs or ladder – will be the first model from its stable to be always online, and it will come with various tech goodies, including a Remote Access function that allows owners to lock or unlock the car remotely.
The Scala will be offered with an electric tailgate as standard and it has a retractable tow bar – which may not pass our strict Australian Design Rules – as well as quirky Skoda features such as folding tray tables on the front seatbacks, an umbrella compartment in the driver’s door, a waste bin in the door trim and storage nets on the inside edges of the front seats.