Scouting for Sales
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Wednesday, 24 September 2008 - Gold Coast Bulletin
As compact SUVs go, the ŠKODA Scout is out in front when it comes to versatility and value, writes Derek Ogden
Be prepared: it’s the motto of the Scouting movement and could just as easily be applied to the Scout, ŠKODA’s entry into the compact sports utility vehicle market.
Based on the Octavia 4x4 wagon, the Scout is aimed at those who want a refined yet rugged vehicle with the practicality of a station wagon. That is, a model that is prepared for almost anything.
The Octavia Scout 4x4 has been developed to be as happy on the street as it is in mud, sand, snow or on gravel.
Key to this flexibility lies in its second-generation Haldex clutch, which allows power to be transferred between the front and rear wheels when it is required, reacting faster than the first generation mechanism giving better traction on loose surfaces.
And with 180mm ground clearance and 17in Proteus alloy wheels, there’s little terrain that can stop it in its tracks.
Power to the wheels come from the tried and tested Volkswagen 2 litre TDI turbo-diesel engine with particulate filter as standard producing 103kW of power and 320Nm of torque via a six-speed manual transmission.
Acceleration from zero to 100km/h is a claimed 10.2 seconds, with a top speed of 197km/h.
The Scout is said to use 6.6 litres of fuel per 100km (43 miles per gallon) on the combined urban/highway cycle from a 60 litre tank and put out 178g of carbon dioxide per kilometre.
It will tow a trailer with brakes up to 1600kg, 650kg without.
At 4581mm, the Scout is 9mm longer than the standard Octavia 4x4 wagon and is 15mm wider and 17mm higher at 180mm, making the ground clearance 40mm greater than the two-wheel drive Octavia.
It also looks very different from its sibling with chunky bumpers at the front and rear, moulded side protective strips and profiled door sills, all giving greater protection for the bodywork.
Black roof rails reinforce the practical nature of the vehicle, as do circular fog lamps below the headlights.
Protective wheel-arch strips, unique kick plates on the front door sills and sump guards below the front and rear bumpers are all standard. A four-spoke multifunction steering wheel, gear lever and handbrake are trimmed in leather, while special seat fabric and a gab handle on the dashboard ahead of the passenger seat are unique to the SUV.
The wagon gets a swag of standard equipment including heated front seats, dual zone air-con, electronic stability control, six airbags, rear acoustic parking sensors, cruise control, twin chrome exhausts and unique Scout touches throughout the cabin.
And the generous 580 litres of rear cargo space can be increased to 1620 litres with both back seats folded flat.
Cargo can be anchored down by means of an expandable net and a privacy cover retracts at a single touch.
During a drive in the Victorian Alps over bitumen, gravel and in mud, the Scout proved to be all it claimed and more.
As well as producing a comfortable ride under sometimes trying conditions, the car never once lost its footing.
The cabin was welcoming and quiet, with little intrusive engine sound, and minimal road and wind noise even at the legal speed limit.
Altogether it’s a surprisingly functional and smart package which, at a starting price of $39,990, takes it right up to rivals for value and versatility.
Options include Columbus satellite navigation ($2490) and the usual additions such as sunroof ($1730) Alacantara and leather seats ($2490), xenon headlights ($1730) and front park distance control ($490).
The Scout could suffer some initial sales resistance due to the fact there is no automatic gearbox on offer.
But it is already on a winner with former world surfing champion and Gold Coast resident Mark Ochilupo about to take delivery of one as a ŠKODA ambassador.