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Skoda Scout

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Today we are at the most southern point of the JutlandPeninsula, with Continental Europe sprawling south and Scandinavia to the north in the beautiful city of Hamburg. Less than 10 hours ago, the Germans clinched the much coveted World Cup in a showdown with Argentina that seen them win in extra time. I expected mayhem, celebrations, and the jubilant behavior that we are most familiar with back home. Instead the Germans are calm, relaxed, but most of all proud. Flags flutter in the soft wind and a rye smile adorns each and every native and rightly so! It’s a good day to be in Germany and we are excited to be here testing Skoda’s new Octavia Scout. So what is the Scout and how does it differ from a normal Octavia? Essentially Skoda has taken the Combi 4×4 variant and given it the Dakar treatment.

By adding distinctive plastic bumpers, doorsills and arches, the rugged off-road looks make it stand apart from its siblings. Skoda then raised the car to 171mm, a full 31mm taller than a standard Octavia Combi, which leaves you under no illusions that this is a very different car with added road presence. The Scout will be offered with three different engines to include a 1.8 TSI a 2.0 TDI 150hp and the all conquering 2.0 TDI 184hp mated to a DSG gearbox. After a brief handover chat I opened the door on the 150hp Scout to reveal a rather handsome interior. Like all modern Skoda’s the car oozes quality and the black/brown colour combination might not sound nice, but it really is! The leather and Alcantara seats are comfortable and the whole cabin has that rugged earthy feel like you are about to go places. Legroom is ample all round and boot space is huge at 610 litres with the possibility of 1,760 litres with the seats folded flat.

 

Our morning spin took us off on a 100km trek around Luneburg and the car felt great to drive, in fact, it felt no different to a normal Octavia which isn’t a bad thing at all. Yes you get slightly more roll with the added height through corners but not enough to trigger nausea regardless of how long, or hard you push. The 150hp engine pulls well through the gears but feels a little dull until you engage “Sport” from the driving mode settings. This frees up a few more ponies and makes the steering that bit sharper. You will find yourself working the manual gearbox a bit more but I preferred the more punchy “Sport” setting to the “Normal” or indeed “Eco” setting. Like on all Skoda’s you can also choose the “Individual” setting to personalise your own driving aids and with a light foot, you will see 55mpg with ease. Towards the end of our morning test route, rough cobblestones seemed to line 10 kilometers of our drive but my fillings are still in tact thanks to the Scout’s absorbent suspension which soaked everything up, with ease.

In the afternoon I got a chance to drive the 184hp 2.0 TDI with DSG and this for me was the car I would choose to buy. The silky smooth gearbox shifts effortlessly up and down the box and the spacing is simply spot on. Depending on your driving mode selection it will shift through gears fast to ensure good economy or in “Sport” mode it hangs onto each gear a little longer allowing the rev range to build before shifting. What I would have liked to test was towing with the DSG gearbox considering the Scout pulls up to 2-tonne, which is very impressive. In previous vehicle tests we have seen added weight confusing automatic transmissions but Skoda engineers assured us Scout’s is very capable. 50 kilometers into our afternoon test drive and it was time to go off road. First off, we travelled 7 kilometers through a forest negotiating water, routes and sand all of which were dealt with admirably. What’s more impressive is that Skoda laid on a proper 4×4 proving ground test with descents the height of a 10-story building, sharp inclines and 45-degree side slopes. My first impressions were “I wouldn’t tackle this in a Land Rover Defender let alone a family estate”. Sure enough we engaged manual mode on the DSG and selected first gear. It is here that the Scout called upon its new Haldex-5 clutch system to distribute the correct amount of power to each wheel to ensure we got around everything and mean every obstacle! You can approach inclines up to 16.7mm and descend slopes of 45 degrees plus. It was truly very impressive and the first time in the day I started to think why the need for a small SUV when you can have a larger car that does it all?

 

For me the Skoda Scout is now the perfect all rounder. Priced at €33,795 it is significantly cheaper than the opposition and I’d doubt many are as capable both on and off road. I’d once again opt for the 184hp 2.0 TDI but everyone has different needs and preferences. This one just ticks all the boxes for me! Join Skoda at this year’s National Ploughing Championships for the launch of this very car and be one of the first to book a test drive.

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