What's the news?
Skoda has launched its much-anticipated rival for the likes of the Ford Focus and Toyota Corolla - the new Scala hatchback - on the Irish market ahead of the 192 registration period. The new hatch essentially replaces the old Skoda Rapid, but is a much more sophisticated, not to mention larger, car than that.
While the Rapid used bits and pieces that dated back to the 1990s, in order to keep its costs down, the Scala rides on the bang-up-to-date 'MQB-A0' platform that we've already seen and driven under the likes of the SEAT Ibiza and Arona, along with the Volkswagen Polo and T-Cross. The Scala is the largest conventional model yet built on that platform, and shows off how flexible it can be - there is Golf-sized room in the back seats, and the boot - at 467 litres - is the largest in the family hatchback class according to Skoda.
Not that you'll be paying the same as the old Rapid for all this improvement - the cheapest Skoda Scala, in mid-spec Ambition trim, clocks in at €23,650. Mind you, that does include 16-inch alloy wheels, dynamic rear LED indicators, air conditioning, a 6.5-inch colour touchscreen unit and the Image Package, which consists of the glass tailgate. The Style model receives 17-inch alloy wheels and full LED headlights, as well as the Bolero eight-inch infotainment unit.
Skoda claims that the Scala is its 'most connected car' with a standard-fit SIM card offering access to online services, while all of its phone and docking ports are made to the latest USB-C standard (better invest in some adaptors if you're on an older phone...). It will also be available with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and with a wireless phone charging pad.
The Scala arrives initially with the familiar 1.0-litre TSI petrol turbo three-cylinder engine, in 115hp form, and the 1.5-litre TSI four-cylinder petrol with 150hp. Somewhat surprisingly, there will be the option of a diesel engine - the usual 115hp 1.6-litre TDI - as Skoda Ireland says that there is still demand in the segment for black-pump power. Eventually, there will be an entry-level model, in less-well equipped Active trim, with the 95hp 1.0-litre engine, which should bring the starting price down closer to €22,000.
Commenting at the launch of the Scala, Ray Leddy, Head of Marketing & Product, said "We are very excited about the launch of the new Scala. The Skoda brand has tremendous momentum in Ireland with the brand entering the top-five best-selling brands for the first time. We are confident the new Scala will fuel further success. The product is priced competitively with excellent exterior design and quality interiors."