So, is the new Skoda Scala named after a Milanese opera house or a computer language?
Good question, but as it bristles with technology and has excellent fuel economy it will certainly make your heart sing so perhaps it’s a combination of both!
The car sits between the Fabia and Octavia in the Skoda line-up and replaces the relatively short-lived Rapid, a model that came as both a five door hatch that looked like a saloon and the Spaceback, a hatchback that pretended to be an estate car. The new Scala fulfils both roles, with a shape reminiscent of the Spaceback. It manages to offer more interior volume than the Spaceback but still less than the old Rapid hatch with its 1,410 litres as a five seater and 467 litres with the rear seats in place.
When we reviewed the Rapid Spaceback back in 2014, we suggested that it did for Skoda what the A3 Sportback does for Audi and that position hasn’t changed. The Scala is a stylish medium-sized family car with plenty of space where it really matters to those with older children, in the rear seat legroom.
The test car, an SE L 1.0 TSI 115PS with DSG seven speed automated manual gearbox, also came with the panoramic glass roof and it was interesting to find this fitted with an interior electric blind that rolled forward into the windscreen header rail rather than backwards to hide above the load space. This stores it in an area where headroom is rarely an issue rather than eating into load volume by lowering the roof lining.
Skoda is famed for its attention to detail, so as cold weather approaches (it went back on the first frosty morning of the autumn) detail like the glass scraper stowed in the fuel filler flap can be appreciated. Likewise the umbrella stored in the driver’s door, something extremely useful in our dodgy climate.
There’s much to like about this Scala, not least the one litre three cylinder engine. Petrol engines have got ever more economical in recent years and this one is no exception. It averaged 47 mpg while with us, which is bang on the money for the new official test cycles. It also emits only 116 g / km of CO2, making it more appealing for urban driving.
Better still is that silky DSG gearbox, perfectly matched to the engine’s characteristics. It shifts easily between ratios with never a jolt – smooth operation is easier in a heavier car because the sheer bulk of the body resists the jerk. It’s harder to achieve in a small car but the Scala is exemplary in this respect. You can’t argue with its 0-62 mph time of 9.9 seconds and top speed of 123 mph which show it has the legs to keep up with modern traffic’s pace.
The Scala comes pretty well loaded for its £21,655, which includes that DSG gearbox, and there can be no arguing about its value for money. We would have preferred it without the 19 inch alloy wheels and sport interior, which combined to add around £1,400 to the list price. The wheels were shod with low profile tyres that made the ride too hard but it could be argued that the body location from the sports front seats was a worthwhile benefit of the interior pack.
Skoda is no longer a poor relation in the VW Group, so the Scala gets the animated indicators of more expensive Audis. That doesn’t mean they make rude gestures at BMW drivers who have yet to learn how their indicators work but the Skoda’s units flash in a sequence that is supposed to make them more noticeable.
When it comes to tech, the car has two of the latest USB C type sockets in the front and for another £25 the test car brought a centre front armrest with two more of the same sockets for rear seat occupants, which many children will view as vital for their entertainment life support systems!
It’s also good news that the spec includes a spacesaver spare wheel – quite often now an option, if it’s offered at all. We would no longer consider buying a car without a spare and maybe so many feel the same that the message is getting through!
Car: Skoda Scala SE L 1.0 TSI 115PS DSG
Does it fit your ego...
0-62 mph: 9.9 secs
Top speed: 123 mph
PS: 115 @ 5.000 – 5,500 rpm
Torque: 200 Nm @ 2,000 – 3,500 rpm
...and your wallet...
Combined: 47.1 – 41.5 mpg
CO2 emissions: 116 g/km
Best bits: all the Skoda you need