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Skoda Octavia 2008 Review

Tough challenge ... the Skoda Scout offers a smooth ride

A slightly more rugged version of an already highly capable family wagon. Skoda's Octavia Scout is a mildly ballsier version of the Octavia load-lugger, the mainstay car for central European families that is still rare enough here as to be almost exotic.

Punting one for several hundred kilometres from Prague into the Austrian Alps was to appreciate that given Skoda's place in the Volkswagen Group, the Scout could also be a fantastically cheaper take on Audi's $100K-plus Allroad.

The Scout is raised 20mm over the standard issue Octavia, given grey plastic protective panels to denote extra-urban intent and equipped with on demand all-wheel-drive.

If it lacks the Outback's genuine, if limited bush-bashing ability, the Scout has something Australian issue Subarus conspicuously lack — a diesel donk. To wit, the doughty 2.0-litre four pot oiler with 103kW/320Nm shoves along VW group cars from the Golf to Audi's A4. Also unlike the Outback, the Scout has ample room for backseat passengers taller than 170cm. Luggage space with these people in place is 560 litres and more than 1500 with the seats folded flat.

But this version of the four-year-old Octavia comes our way with a six-speed-manual as the sole transmission. Those not appalled by the notion of changing gears for themselves, however, will delight in the easy action of gearstick and clutch.

Though this version 2.0 TDI is being surpassed in VW Group autos by a more powerful unit, there's little reason to complain about the fat torque curve that becomes yours from about 1750rpm. The mid-range urge is such that changing down is not always necessary for overtaking as we segue along the freeways and on to B-roads.

Czech road surfaces approach our own for coarseness, so little wonder the Skodas we've seen out our way deal with NSW's crude tracks with almost native aplomb.

The Scout's more generous suspension travel only enhances an already impressive ride.

Open road cruising gets the best from any diesel and even at 160km/h in top gear, the rev counter is barely north of 3000rpm. Save for wind-whistle off the big wing mirrors, occupants aren't audibly aware of its rapid progress.

Noise, vibration and harshness are absent, testament to Skoda build quality and a hint of the reliability that independent surveys rate as second only to Lexus. The Octavia range rides on Mark V Golf underpinnings and if the Skoda's interior is a little less polished, it is a happy meeting of comfort and function.

After 550km on freeways and B-roads, not quite two thirds of the juice in the 55-litre tank is gone -a ringing endorsement of Skoda's decision to make Australian spec Scouts diesel only. This confirms the suitability of diesel for our wide open spaces and damns oil companies for ruthless mark-ups at the bowsers.

Skoda's Scout will be at the Sydney motor show and then go on sale.



Price: $40,000 (estimated)

Engine: 2L/4-cylinder turbo diesel 103kW/320Nm

Transmission: 6-speed manual, all-wheel-drive

Economy: 6.5L/100km


Pricing guides

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Range and Specs

Ambiente 1.9L, Diesel, 6 SP $5,200 – 8,030 2008 Skoda Octavia 2008 Ambiente Pricing and Specs
Elegance 2.0L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $5,600 – 8,690 2008 Skoda Octavia 2008 Elegance Pricing and Specs
RS 2.0L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $6,300 – 9,790 2008 Skoda Octavia 2008 RS Pricing and Specs
RS TDI 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP $6,700 – 10,450 2008 Skoda Octavia 2008 RS TDI Pricing and Specs