Image 1 of 11
Image 1 of 11
17 Nov, 2019 11:00am Sam Naylor
First report: all-new Skoda Scala hatch will be fighting it out in a class chock-full of accomplished rivals
This week we welcome an all-new model to our test fleet. Unlike many of the cars we are currently running long-term, the Skoda Scala is in its first generation, so it has a lot to prove.
Just as the name implies (Scala comes from the Latin for stairway or ladder) the Czech model not only needs to prove it can match the best cars in its class, but it also has to establish itself as a new name. You could say it has a mountain to climb.
Our Scala is the most powerful model you can buy: its 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol unit has 148bhp. It’s matched to a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic gearbox, which helps the car get from 0-62mph in 8.3 seconds. That’s not bad and the Scala feels nippy, yet we’re already managing 40mpg in normal driving. We’re expecting that to rise as we add more motorway miles to the tachometer; the claimed combined figure of up to 45.6mpg is certainly looking possible after our first month with the car.
Image 2 of 11
Image 2 of 11
We’re driving the Scala in SE trim, which is the entry-level car with this powertrain (there’s a basic S model but there’s only one engine: the 1.0-litre TSI). It’s still really well equipped and the eight-inch Bolero infotainment system is one of the highlights. Its large screen looks impressive before you even turn it on, but the modern-looking graphics and useful features are the best bits.
It’s responsive, too, which makes using Android Auto or Apple CarPlay (both are standard) really easy. We love using these smartphone-based systems – they’re so well designed and let you access key functions on your phone, most importantly the navigation, because the Scala doesn’t have a built-in system in SE spec. That’s not an issue for most of us in the Auto Express office, though, because we all have smartphones to plug in.
Another modern touch in the cabin is the USB-C port ahead of the dash, with an adapter for older USB connectors. It’s a small thing, but as more devices start to use this new smartphone and laptop standard, it helps to future-proof the car.
Other standard equipment on SE trim includes LED headlights, AEB, lane-keep assist, parking sensors, auto lights and wipers, air-conditioning and cruise control. There’s even a space-saver spare wheel, which we know many of our readers prefer to a repair kit, as you’ll find in many of the Scala’s rivals. It adds a little extra peace of mind should you pick up a puncture.
Image 8 of 11
Image 8 of 11
The spare wheel sits beneath the boot floor, which brings us to another thing that has already really impressed about the Scala: its interior space. The 467-litre boot is bigger than pretty much any other rival, which is immediately obvious when you open the tailgate.
There’s so much space that even a whole weekly shop needs to be secured at the sides to stop it rolling about. That’s great news for my colleague Otis Clay, who will take over running the Skoda soon. He has mountains of bulky photography gear which takes up a lot of room. For now, we’ve been enjoying the passenger space rather than the boot. There’s easily enough room for three Auto Express staffers to sit on the rear bench, and there’s enough leg and headroom for the tallest of us to sit comfortably, as long as they’re on the outside seats.
The Scala has the raw ingredients to make it as a brilliant family car, then, but to climb to the top it will need to impress over the next six months in some other areas. Will its petrol engine and auto gearbox continue to return good economy? And can its ride and handling stand the test of time over months of daily use? We’ll bring you the answers to these questions and more as we spend more time behind the wheel of Skoda’s new hatchback.
*Insurance quote from AA (0800 107 0680) for a 42-year-old in Banbury, Oxon, with three points.
4.5 The Skoda Scala has a bit of a mountain to climb, but our first impressions reveal it’s making a strong go of it. An impressive standard kit count and good interior space have got it off to a great start.
- Model: Skoda Scala 1.5 TSI 150PS DSG SE
- On fleet since: October 2019
- Price: £21,255
- Engine: 1.5-litre petrol, 148bhp
- CO2/tax: 113g/km/£145
- Options: Metallic paint (£595), 17-inch alloys (£415), ‘black dot’ interior trim (£265), Exterior design pack (£1,450), keyless entry (£410)
- Insurance*: Group: 13/Quote: £429
- Mileage: 5,340
- Economy: 40.0mpg
- Any problems?: None so far