Skoda’s engineers must be great at Tetris. They have an uncanny knack of fitting more space into their cars than any of their rivals can manage.
The Superb, Octavia and Fabia are all much more spacious inside than seems possible. Would that run of roominess continue with their latest product, the Scala?
Yes, is the short answer. Despite its modest dimensions there’s room for four good sized adults and there’s a 467 litre boot – a Ford Focus has 375 and a Volkswagen Golf 380.
The Scala replaces the old Rapid and fills the gap between the Fabia supermini and the much larger Octavia. The five-door hatchback is a roomy and reasonably priced alternative to the Golf, Focus and Astra, but Skoda is hoping to also tempt buyers away from small SUVs such as the Nissan Juke and Mazda CX-3.
It’s much better looking than the Rapid – well proportioned and with sharp details, like the headlights and creases down the bonnet. It’s also taken a leap forward inside, with soft touch plastics and a smart cabin layout. Out of its main rivals only the Golf now has it beaten for interior quality.
Prices start at £16,800 and increase to more than £23,000 for top spec models. Buyers can choose from a 1.0 litre, three cylinder petrol engine with 95 or 115hp, a 1.5 litre petrol with 150hp and the sole diesel option, a 1.5 litre with 115bhp.
I spent a week in the company of the 115hp 1.0 litre petrol in mid-level SE trim, which cost £18,585. Mine came with a six-speed manual but many buyers will go for Skoda’s excellent seven-speed DSG automatic.
Entry level models get a 6.5in touchscreen but my mid-spec SE version upgrades that to an 8in screen. It sits high up on the dashboard, making it easy to see. Graphics are crips and clear and it’s easy to use – though as with all touchscreens, it’s not as easy to use as buttons when you’re driving.
The Scala is set up for comfort rather than driving dynamics. Want to throw your car through a series of bendy roads? A Ford Focus might be your thing. But if you want to sit comfortably on an A road or dual carriageway then the Skoda definitely has you covered.
The Scala may not be the last word when it comes to being fun to drive but it’s comfortable, good looking and has a high quality interior. Compare it to small SUVs such as the Nissan Juke or Renault Captur and it offers more interior space and better equipment for less money.
0-62mph: 9.8 seconds
Top speed: 125mph
CO2 emissions: 113g/km