Acceleration is surprisingly rapid and the steering is if anything a little too responsive at times ...
Chris Riley road tests and reviews the Skoda Scout.
Think Forester before it morphed into just another high riding SUV and you've got the Skoda Scout. That's not doing the Scout an injustice because as a small wagon with some off road ability it is a very practical and appealing vehicle.
Skoda (VW's Czech subsidiary) has just added to this appeal with the addition of a 'manumatic' robotised manual gearbox that promises swift gear changes and frugal fuel consumption.
There's just two models — the Scout and better equipped Scout Premium — and they're both powered by the same 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine. It's Volkswagen's 103kW/320Nm direct injection diesel and can be paired with either a six-speed manual or the aforementioned six-speed DSG transmission. It's the same engine that can be found in the Golf and other models in the Volkswagen range.
Priced from $39,490 the attraction in the case of a Skoda is the opportunity to purchase Volkswagen technology but at a greatly reduced price. The downside, if you can call it that, is Skoda's low resale values but this will improve as time goes on.
There's nothing wrong with the cars. Our test vehicle was the top of the line Premium model with the DSG box, priced from $45,790.
The Scout is an offroad version of the Octavia wagon with a 40mm lift kit and some body cladding to provide protection from bumps and scrapes. The fourth-generation Haldex clutch, the heart of the all-wheel drive system, represents the latest in all-wheel drive technology. It works with other onboard electronic systems to transfer drive between the front and rear wheels.
An electronic control unit evaluates information such as wheel speed, accelerator pedal position, engine speed, and data from the chassis stability programs. This information is used to vary the torque distribution ratio between the front and rear wheels, up to 98 per cent in either direction.But with only 180mm of ground clearance any off road adventures are limited strictly to snow and the odd dirt track.
The all-wheel drive system does however add an extra safety dimension to the car, especially in the wet. We clocked up close to 600km in the Scout.
With fuel economy rated at 6.1 litres/100km, we were getting closer to 6.5 litres/100km from the 60-litre tank.
The Scout delivers a punchy drive experience, if at times a little noisy because of the intrusion of the diesel. Acceleration is surprisingly rapid and the steering is if anything a little too responsive at times, requiring constant attention to stay on track. The brakes on our test vehicle were also very aggressive, but you get used to them.
Rear legrom is good as is the size of the luggage area behind the rear seat. Even the base model Scout is well equiped with six airbags, a full complement of safety technology and satellite navigation system with a 30Gb hard drive and eight speaker audio. There's also climate air, heated front seats and an off side mirror that dips when reversing.
The Premium adds electric glass sunroof, privacy glass from B-pillar, and cool 17 inch polished alloys, suede-leather upholstery, and electric driver's seat with memory. It's what you don't get that is annoying. Bluetooth is noticeably absent from both models - it's $550 plus dealer fitting charges.
Price: from $41,790
Warranty: 3-year / unlimited kilometre
Resale: 75% (est.)
Service interval: variable, condition-based
Safety: 4-star Euro NCAP
Engine: 2.0-litre, 4-cyl turbodiesel, 103kW/320Nm
Body: five-door wagon
Transmission: 6-speed manual and DSG, four-wheel drive
Thirst: 6.1 L/100km, CO2 160g/km.