2016 Skoda Octavia Scout

What is it?

The current Octavia, not to be confused with the original classic Octavia that was produced from 1959 to 1971, is now in its 3rd incarnation and has been around since 1996.  It was the first completely new Skoda to be produced under the stewardship of the Volkswagen group and was an instant success around Europe, giving Skoda a much needed boost in reputation.

The Scout however wasn’t launched until 2007, but since then has secured itself a huge following, and not just with Joe public, but by NHS First Responders too, and for a very good reason.

On the road

Spoiler alert, as you’ll read later, this particular model comes with the same 184ps engine as the Octavia vRS, so it has some potency to it.  However, I felt that the Scout was a little less aggressive with its delivery when compared to the vRS’s kick up th’ arse kind of oomph, which isn't a bad thing of course.

I struggled to think of a better way of explaining this, but Muddy Madam came up with a good one.  The Scout is like Usain Bolt during a training day whilst the vRS is like Mr Bolt at a 100mtrs final.  Same potency, different delivery.  I'm not sure if that's how it's designed to be, or because the Scout is a heavier car.

Pootling around town or driving to work, the ride is very comfortable and it handled the increasingly pot-holed roads around Bolton with ease.  Use the 184ps on the open road and the Scout feels steady and secure with hardly any body roll, which is great considering its extra height.  This can be attributed to a new and lightweight suspension system which includes a new multi-link rear axle that's 4kg lighter than before.

Off the road

Driving along my usual test lane, which admittedly isn’t very ‘testing’, the Scout performed rather well.  There wasn’t any strange knocks or bangs, in fact the 225/50-R17 tyres made quite a noticeable difference on the bumps when compared to others, like the Volvo XC90 which was bloomin’ uncomfortable.

Of course, the Scout isn't your traditional 'off-roader', so I couldn't treat it as such, so I had to find a new place to perform my usual balancing act on 2 and 3 wheels.  On doing so, it performed brilliantly on loose gravel, with not even a hint of wheel-spin.  Bored, I drove further afield to a couple of usually muddy lanes near Preston, and although it had recently downpoured, they were still relatively dry.  When I eventually found a bit of the slippery stuff, it was no test for the Scout, the 5th generation Haldex clutch worked a treat, as did Skoda’s Electronic Differential Lock (EDL).

The underneath of the Scout is well protected with what Skoda call a Rough-Road package, as well as normal shields that protect its nether regions, more are fitted to protect its brake and fuel lines.

Skoda have raised the Scout by an extra 33mm, which isn’t an awful lot when you look at it on a ruler, but it does have 171mm of ground clearance.  Add to that its revised approach and departure angles of 16.7 & 13.8 degrees meant that the Scout gave me a lot of confidence off-road, especially in deepish ruts.  In fact, with careful placement of its tyres you’ll be quite surprised where the Scout will take you.

Interior

Muddy madam loved the interior, but I had to agree with someone else who said it was a tad bland.  There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s functional, and if Muddy Madam’s 2002 Fabia estate is anything to go by, durable too.  Amusingly, although the Scout and MM’s Fabia are 12 years apart, they still share the odd bits of trim, like the electric window switches for example.  On the subject of switches, all are within easy reach and feel solid to the touch.

I liked the sat-nav system too.  In this day and age, there shouldn’t be anything overly complicated on vehicles, and unlike others, Skoda’s was easy and very intuitive to use, I didn’t have to rummage through the handbook once. 

The seats are finished in black or brown leather and Alcantara trim and are wonderfully comfortable, being both supportive and long enough in the base for my long legs, unlike its SEAT sibling.

On the subject of seats, if you want a completely flat rear, then it isn’t for you.  The Scout, and the normal Octavia estate are actually class leading in their interior space, with a 610ltr boot that grows to 1,740ltr when you drop the seats, but they don't fall completely flat.

Other things I liked about the Scout are the small touches, like the ice scraper attached to the inside of the fuel filler and the hi-viz vest under the passenger seat, it’s the small things in life that can be important.

Engines

With the Scout you get 2 variations of the 2.0 diesel, either the 184ps version or the 150ps, both have 6-speeds gearboxes, but you can only have the manual ‘box with the 150ps, and the 184ps comes with the DSG auto, both have the Haldex-5 four wheel drive system, obviously.

2.0ltr, 184ps - 0-60mph in 7.8 seconds with top speed of 136mph, and a CO2 of 134g/km.
2.0ltr, 150ps - 0-60mph in 9.1 seconds with top speed of 129mph, and a CO2 of 129g/km.

Conclusion

During the week I covered 526 miles which included a real mixture driving, from off-roading, a lot of short 4 mile journeys and motorway blasts during which I seldom kept at 56mph, and you can read that as never!  According to the ships log we averaged 37.8mpg, I suppose a more sensible driving technique from me would have improved that figure to the official one of 56.5mpg, but as I said earlier, with 184ps on tap, the Scout is a fun car to drive!

Did it have any faults?  Of course it did, no car is perfect.  I didn’t like the delay when I pressed the accelerator.  This would happen both when I was stationary with my foot on the brake waiting for a gap in traffic, and when at lights with the handbrake on.  With the latter I would put the lever from neutral into drive, release the handbrake and immediately press the throttle and… nothing for a few moments.  Having said that, I wouldn’t really call them faults, probably quirks.

Overall I found the Scout to be a very sensible 4x4 estate which, in 184ps form, was exciting to drive.  It's well put together and due to its rarity will hold on to its value.  I can honestly say, with hand on heart, that if I wanted a 4x4 estate, there'd be a very good chance that I’d actually open my wallet and buy a Scout - high praise indeed!