Competent, practical, good value for money
A little boring, pricey options list defeats the object
What is it?
The Scala is Skoda’s attempt to plug the gap between Fabia (small hatch) and Octavia (big hatch-slash-saloon-slash-estate). Think competition for the Ford Focus, Kia Ceed, Hyundai i30, Seat Leon, VW Golf, that sort of thing – though with Ford set to end production of the ever popular Focus in 2025, we can't help but wonder how much longer the Scala will hang on.
Still, as is the Skoda way, the Scala is priced so that you get a bit more space/kit than the premium brands for the same money, and with badge prejudice becoming ever more pointless, it’s a rational take.
I CAN’T DECIDE IF I LIKE THE LOOKS…
We know what you mean – it’s nicely if inoffensively styled. Crisp is a good word. There’s an extended glass option for the rear tailgate which looks cool – though strangely better proportioned without from some angles – plenty of safety equipment and a general feeling of quality.
It’s not going to blow your socks off, but neither is it going to startle your favourite aunt. Though if you’re not paying attention, it is perfectly possible to confuse it with pretty much any of the other mid-sized hatches in this marketplace.
WHAT ARE MY ENGINE OPTIONS?
The basics work like this: there are three engines available (two petrol and one diesel), with four different outputs, with either five- or six-speed manuals or a seven-speed DSG paddleshift.
Broken down further, that means a 1.0-litre TSI 3cyl petrol that comes in 93 or 112bhp flavours, another 4cyl petrol 1.5 TSi with 147bhp, or a similarly four-pot 1.6 TDi diesel with 112bhp.
DOES IT FEEL BUDGET TO DRIVE?
You’d be surprised: the folks at Skoda have done a very solid job with the Scala. It goes, stops and steers exactly as you’d like it to, and can even be pretty good fun on the right roads, as long as you’re not expecting hot hatch energy.
We found the three-cylinder petrols to be flavour of the month, particularly the upper paired variant and the six-speed gearbox, with its gently characterful engine and smooth-as-you-like gearshifts. There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with the more powerful petrol variant, but in a car like this it’s simply not needed.
In short, it’s a well set up, mature little car. Full details over on the driving tab.
WHAT ABOUT THE INTERIOR?
It all feels very sensible in here: you get a steering wheel with proper buttons, infotainment screen measuring either 8.0 or 9.2 inches depending on spec, and – rejoice – individual climate controls. There’s plenty of common sense, with it thankfully avoiding most of the pitfalls found elsewhere in the VW Group.
It’s particularly spacious too, both up front and in the rear where there’s no shortage of knee or headroom thanks to the 2,649mm wheelbase. The Scala also features one of the largest boots in its segment at 467 litres, which increases to 1,410 litres with the split back seats folded down. Head over to the interior tab for more.
As ever, there’s plenty of so-called “Simply Clever” touches, including an ice scraper with a tyre tread depth gauge inside the fuel filler cap, a ticket holder on the driver’s A-pillar, an umbrella inside the driver’s door, and an integrated funnel in the lid of the windscreen washer tank to prevent unwanted spillages. Handy.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
A 1.0-litre base spec Scala with the lower output and a manual rocks up at £20,120, a 1.5-litre with a DSG in range-topping trim a smidge past £26k. Oof.
Speaking of trims, at the time of writing there are four available – SE, SE Technology, SE L and Monte Carlo – with the walk-up generally meaning SE Technology costs £665 more than the boggo SE, the SE L £1,495 on top again, and the range-topping Monte Carlo an extra £2,635. An in-depth breakdown can be found on the buying tab.
Our choice from the range
What's the verdict?
A nicely judged hatchback from Skoda. No particular surprises, but then again, you probably weren’t expecting any. The new, crisp design language is a big plus, the workmanlike approach to practicality and size for the cash very appealing. No, it’s not going to shock you with surprising dynamics or fizzy performance, but you may well gain quiet satisfaction from the useful aspects of ownership.
We’re back to the old tropes, in fact, so sorry about that: a Ford Focus is better to drive, a Golf feels nicer. Neither is quite as practical or cheap. And that’s the key here, keep the Scala modest and it’s a real option. Definitely have a go if you’re in the market for a Seat Leon, Kia Ceed or Hyundai i30, or any other mid-sized hatch.