What are you driving?
The Skoda Scala occupies an unusual space in the Czech car maker's range, being larger and better equipped than the Fabia, yet not that much smaller than the Octavia. Also, it's pitched as something of a second-tier C-segment hatchback, rivalling the likes of the Hyundai i30 and Kia Ceed, yet its Octavia sibling also falls into the top tier C-segment. So, it's all a little confusing, but fear not, we're going to sort through the good (and bad) points of the Scala.
There's also its passing resemblance to the Fiat Tipo from the rear to deal with. However, the Skoda is the better looking of the two, partly thanks to a glass tailgate that's reminiscent of company's Rapid Spaceback, which in some ways this model replaces. Behind that lies a generous 467 litres of boot space that can increase to 1,410 litres by folding forward the rear seats. They don't fold completely flat with the boot floor, but the lip is small enough that it shouldn't cause much of an issue.
Name its best bits
It would be easy to describe the Scala as a budget alternative to the Octavia, and in some ways it is. But with the latest generation of Skoda's evergreen star moving yet further upmarket, it creates a little more breathing room in the range for the Scala. There are three petrol engines available, but this 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder is the only diesel offering. It comes with the excellent automatic DSG (a €2,000 premium) or a six-speed manual gearbox. Shifting gears by hand in this instance isn't much of a chore at all. The controls are well weighted, and the gearing suits the torquey nature of the engine, with it pulling comfortably from low revs in higher gears without a hint of judder.
The Scala is somewhat unremarkable to drive, but therein lies its quality. It gets on with the task at hand and does so without fuss. For us that included the completion of lengthy drives without feeling tired or stiff, and getting well over 1,000 kilometres between fill-ups was an added boon. Its ten-second time to reach 100km/h from rest might seem sluggish, but the engine has plenty of mid-range torque, ensuring that motorway overtakes and the like are quickly dispatched, often without the need to drop down a gear, too.
Having covered quite a bit of ground during our time with the Scala, we'd have to say one of its best features is the 1.6-litre diesel engine and its ability to eke out fuel economy on longer journeys. Sure, the 50-litre fuel tank helps, but over two weeks we saw it return an average of 4.9 litres/100km. It's comfortable too, thanks to supportive seats and good ergonomics including plenty of adjustability of the steering wheel position and driver's seat. Our car did have the optional Comfort Pack that adds an electrically adjustable driver's seat along with an electric tailgate, at the cost of €714. Rear passengers get to enjoy ample amounts of head- and legroom, too. There are plenty of modern touches inside the Scala, such as four USB-C charge ports (two in the front and two in the rear on Style models) along with a wireless charging pad and an eight-inch Bolero touchscreen infotainment system.
Anything that bugs you?
For all the modern tech that Skoda has made available in the Scala, it's not immune to some hiccups that can become annoying. The steering's lane keep assist system, as we've experienced in other Volkswagen Group products, is prone to alerting you to take control of the steering when on longer straight stretches, even when you're holding the wheel with both hands. A minor gripe you might think, but if your daily commute involves driving for longer periods on such roads this could get annoying.
And why have you given it this rating?
The Skoda Scala isn't the cheapest car in its class or even in its subset within the segment, but it does beat some of its rivals when it comes to practical features such as boot and passenger space and overall it feels substantial enough and solidly built.
What do the rest of the team think?
I quite like the look of the Scala and the interior design is attractive enough, too, but it feels like a substantial supermini rather than a competitor for the big sellers in the C-segment. For that reason, I reckon it's better as a (cheaper-to-buy) petrol model.
Shane O' Donoghue - Editor
The Scala is neat to look at, hugely spacious, and not bad to drive, either. But - and rather like the Skoda Kamiq - it just to me feels a bit too cheap for a not-very-cheap price tag. I’d say an outgoing Octavia, for similar cash, is a much better buy right now.
Neil Briscoe - Editor-at-large