Skoda learns its lesson as it moves up a scale
Skoda is thinking big with the solid and practical new Scala, writes Geraldine Herbert
As the long school year is coming to a close, the Skoda Rapid's end-of-term report would probably say "a hard-working student, capable but not exceptional".
The Rapid was Skoda's simple-no-compromise budget hatchback that was neither rapid nor stylish and found few homes in Ireland.
Now, in a bid for success in the family hatchback market, Skoda has replaced it with the all-new Scala and hopes that this one will make impressive progress during the next school year.
It looks good from the outside, with a sweeping profile and LED head and tail lights.
The smart looks outside are complemented by a bright, airy cabin. Everything is of good quality, built to last and it is super spacious, particularly for rear-seat passengers.
Boot space is also good, with a very generous 467 litres of capacity and there is oodles of storage spaces and cubby holes throughout.
It's also stuffed with big-car technology, including VW's latest MIB3 infotainment package which brings a clean dash and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as wireless phone charging capability.
Engine options include two petrols, a 1.0 TSI 115bhp and a 1.5 TSI 150bhp, and one 1.6 TDI 115bhp diesel, both manual and DSG automatic transmissions.
The 1.0 petrol is perky and yet smooth and refined. The Scala is not going to worry rivals in terms of driving dynamics, but it handles well and feels light.
You can choose from one of two trims, Ambition or Style, and an Active entry-level trim will be offered later in the year. All Scalas come complete with 16" alloy wheels; Dynamic rear LED indicators, air-conditioning and a 6.5" colour touch screen unit. Trade up to the Style model for extras including 17" alloy wheels and full LED headlights as well as the Bolero 8" infotainment unit.
Prices start from €23,650 for the 1.0 TSI 115bhp, so for now, until the new entry-level model is launched, it is actually more expensive to buy than the Octavia - which starts from €22,025.
There's something very reassuring about the new Scala. It's a solid, practical and sturdy family car that is well equipped and seriously spacious that would make a welcome change from the gamut of urban crossovers on the school run.