This is the all-new Skoda Scala, the Czech firm’s direct competitor for the likes of the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus.
The Scala is based on the smallest version of the VW Group’s MQB platform, called A0. That means it shares some mechanicals with models such as the SEAT Ibiza and Volkswagen Polo – but it’s considerably bigger than those machines. Indeed, at 4,362mm, the Scala is still over 10cm longer than a Golf – but a full 30cm shorter than the Octavia.
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While the new model’s styling is clearly derived from that of the Vision RS concept, predictably the Scala’s looks are toned down from those of the motorsport-influenced special displayed at the Paris Motor Show in October. The nose wears the latest evolution of the Skoda grille, and the angled headlights and bumper are designed to replicate the sharp edges of Bohemian cut crystal.
The side profile is more of a conventional hatchback than the Octavia, with a roofline that tapers towards the rear and then falls sharply at the tailgate. The most notable feature at the back end is the new, spelt- out Skoda name. This is stretched across the tailgate, and should the customer choose the optional ‘glass extension’ (as seen in these initial images), the lettering is mounted directly on to an unusually large screen.
Despite being based on the smallest MQB configuration, the Scala has a 2,649mm wheelbase – 12mm longer than a Golf’s – and Skoda claims this translates into competitive amounts of cabin space, particularly for occupants in the rear.
The boot appears to have a relatively flat floor, with only a small lip to load heavy items over. The rear seats are split 60:40, and when they’re folded down the Scala’s boot capacity extends from 467 litres (120 more than in a Focus) to 1,410 litres (an increase of 140 compared with a Golf).
An electric tailgate will be offered as an option, while traditional Skoda Simply Clever features – such as the ice scraper (complete with tyre tread-depth gauge) in the fuel-filler flap, an umbrella in the driver’s door and a ticket holder in the driver’s A-pillar – are likely to be standard across most of the range.
Buyers will have four engines to choose from at launch. The core of the line-up will be a 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol motor, offered with either 94bhp or 114bhp. There is also a more powerful 148bhp 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol unit, complete with cylinder deactivation to boost efficiency, as well as a 1.6-litre diesel delivering 114bhp.
The base petrol unit gets a five-speed manual gearbox; all of the other engines are offered with a six-speed transmission, along with the option of a seven-ratio dual-clutch automatic.
Skoda hasn’t issued details on the chassis configuration, although it’s likely to be standard MQB fare, with MacPherson struts at the front and a torsion beam at the rear. The Scala will be offered with the option of Sport Chassis Control, which lowers the ride height by 15mm and adds adjustable dampers and the ability to tweak the steering and engine responses.
There’s no word yet on wheel sizes – entry-level versions of the Scala can be specced with 15-inch steel rims, in theory – but we would expect Skoda UK to opt for alloys throughout the new range. That would mean 16, 17 and 18-inch sizes being offered.
The Scala’s cabin incorporates some of the latest VW Group tech – particularly in infotainment, where its displays (6.5, eight or 9.2 inches, depending on trim level) sit proud of the dash, like a ‘floating’ tablet. Skoda says that the dash’s shape allows you to balance your hand below the touchscreen, helping you to make more accurate inputs when the car is moving.
A built-in SIM with permanent 4G connectivity allows owners to unlock the model using a smartphone and enables sat-nav map updates to be supplied automatically. The Scala will also be offered with the option of a 10.25-inch fully-digital instrument panel. SmartLink+, which brings Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, should be standard on most versions, although it may be optional on the most basic system.
The interior finish should represent a significant step over the budget Rapid Spaceback, with soft-touch materials in key areas and a smart metallic finish across the centre of the facia. There’s ambient lighting in red or white, contrast stitching on the seats and the option of suede microfibre upholstery. Heated front and rear seats will be available, too, along with a heated windscreen and steering wheel.
Safety kit will include up to nine airbags, LED dipped-beam and daytime running lights (full-LED headlamps will be optional), a rear cross-traffic alert system, lane-keep assist and a rear-view camera with auto parking into parallel spaces and car park bays.
UK customers will be offered the Scala in S, SE and SE L trims when it goes on sale next year, although it’s likely a Sportline edition could arrive in due course. Pricing has yet to be announced, but given the car’s cheaper MQB A0 underpinnings, Skoda could pitch it squarely between the Fabia and the Octavia and still undercut most established family hatchbacks. We’d expect a starting price of around £16,500 for the new model – not far off £2,000 less than the entry-level Focus.
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source: AutoExpress Best Car Reviews (autoexpress.co.uk)