Three generations of Italian hypercar hit the dirt track for an epic road trip
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What’s a Scout?
It’s an off-roady version of the Skoda Octavia Estate. Think Audi A4/A6 Allroad, Passat/Golf Alltrack or Mercedes E-Class AllTerrain. 30mm of extra ride height, underbody protection, a dedicated off-road mode with hill-descent control, standard all-wheel drive and some black plastic body mouldings are what separate it from the standard car.
So, is it any good off-road?
Actually, yes. That Skoda even quote a departure angle (14.5 degrees) shows it’s taking this seriously. We drove the Scout around an off-road course that would’ve unstuck the average crossover, and it had no trouble whatsoever with any of the obstacles. It didn’t scrabble for traction, even though the all-wheel drive system is a Haldex job with a multi-plate clutch ahead of the rear-axle, so It’s basically front-driven until it decides it needs the extra grip. For most, this is all the off-roader you’d ever need.
Not bad at all. Comfy, thanks to sensible alloys and that extra little bit of suspension travel. Could be just the thing for Britain’s uniquely terrible roads. There is a Sport mode, but that’s a button you should leave well alone. The Scout can do corners, but this is a car best left in its softest mode and just stroked along. There’s roll but it doesn’t pitch or wallow too much and the steering’s pretty good, albeit lacking in tactility (isn’t everything?). The high-power diesel is exactly as quick as a diesel vRS – 7.8secs to 62mph – but that’s of no consequence. DSG seems less keen to kickdown, more willing to use the torque on offer, thus making it a pretty relaxing thing.
Engines. Tell us about them
There are two, both diesels, both 2.0-litres. One has 148bhp, 251lb ft and a six-speed manual gearbox. The other is the 181bhp/280lb ft from the Octavia vRS and Golf GTD. That one you can only have with a six-speed DSG. Known quantites, both of them. A fine engine - fast and refined enough for a so-sized diesel. Petrol engines and different gearbox combos are available elsewhere in Europe.
Should I buy one?
Pricing isn’t too far off the vRS - starts at £25,880 and rises to £28,675. Seeing as you’re the type of person who reads car reviews on TopGear.com, that’s probably the Octavia for you. But if you need a degree of off-road ability, but don’t want the high-rise silhouette of an SUV, you could do worse.