Skoda Scala is a hit with fuss-free looks, value for money, versatile engine range and big practicality
IT’S that time of year again – when the Domino’s share price goes through the roof as the nation ignores brighter evenings and hibernates in front of Britain’s Got Talent.
I know it’s a ratings monster but I’ve never been a huge fan to be honest. It’s just Butlin’s and Cowell’s veneers in HD.
Actually, that’s not entirely true — there was one year which, er, piqued my interest. Or rather, there was one act. Remember Scala?
Four fit-as-biscuits women who were double handy with a violin. I think they got to the final in 2008.
I dunno, I wasn’t tracking their progress. All I know is I became an avid fan of string instruments for a couple of months.
Perhaps it is those memories of Scala which put me in a good mood when it came to appraising this new Skoda, also called Scala. But more likely it’s because it’s a bloody good car.
It’s easy to forget the hatchback is still Europe’s favourite segment — we seem to be bombarded with crossovers and SUVs at every turn these days. But it is.
The VW Golf and Ford Focus still sell by the boatload.
Which is why the Scala should do well. You probably know it’s a sorted VW under the skin but it hits on all of Skoda’s trademark selling points — fuss-free looks, good value for money and big practicality.
That said, much was made of the Scala being the first car to spell out the word S-K-O-D-A on the boot.
Not a deal-breaker for me, I must say. I liked it when Porsche went down that route, but when you’re spending Porsche money you want it advertised. Skoda, perhaps not so important.
The engine line-up is generous. There’s a 1-litre three- cylinder turbo petrol which squeezes out either 95hp or 115hp and above those sits a four-cylinder 1.5 good for 150bhp.
Not to be confused with Scala, the Britain’s Got Talent act from 2008[/caption]
Then there’s a 1.6-litre diesel. Depending on the engine and your budget, you can choose either a manual or seven-speed DSG auto gearbox.
The sweet spot? Probably the 115bhp with the DSG.
It’s a great all-rounder, at home around town thanks to the seamless gearshifts, but it’s also got the lungs for heavy-footed overtakes on the motorway.
The DSG isn’t available with the smaller engine, but unless you rarely detour from the school run and Friday night big shop, you’re going to find it frustratingly puny anyway.
Kit is good, especially in the middle trim — called SE — which is the car I tested at £18,585.
It has cruise control, rear parking sensors, front fog lamps, 16in alloys, slick 8in infotainment system . . . and umbrellas in the doors, like a Rolls-Royce.
Good build quality, too. All fittings sit flush, the doors pull shut with a satisfying, weighty clunk and the seats are plush and comfy enough for long hours at the wheel.
The Scala has pretty much nailed expectations. It’s a sensible car for sensible people.
Better value than the VW Golf? Definitely. Better value than the Ford Focus? Arguably.
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Bigger boot than both? Yep — class-leading at 467 litres.
It does fall short of the Golf’s prestige, though, and it isn’t as exciting to drive as the Focus.
But all in all, Scala gets a Yes from me, especially the one second right.
KEY FACTS :SKODA SCALA
Engine: 1-litre turbo petrol
0-62mph: 9.8 seconds
Top speed: 125mph