Bold statement by ŠKODA ŠKODA Octavia Scout
Image 1 of 2
11th Jan 2010 - Dandenong Journal - Ewan Kennedy
The ŠKODA Octavia Scout 4x4 is a no-nonsense vehicle that makes a lot of sense to the person looking for some off-road ability, but who is chiefly interested in a practical suburban runabout. Or even someone living in the country who needs sensible transport with a tougher-than-average build for this class.
We've visited the Czech Republic to tour the ŠKODA facilities and talk to their designers and planners on a couple of occasions. In some way they remind us of our own Holden organisation. Though Holden employees are obviously aware theirs is part of the giant General Motors conglomerate, they have a fiercely patriotic Australian attitude to their work.
It's the same with ŠKODA, though the company is part of the Volkswagen group, the people who work there see themselves as patriotic Czechs and build their cars to suit their country's individual characteristics. The ŠKODA Octavia Scout 4x4 is a classic example. It's spacious inside, with plenty of stowage areas for all the nick nacks of everyday motoring life. It has a good-sized load area that can be expanded in several ways by folding down various rear seats, and has a deeper than average boot for a 4WD.
That's all backed up by ease of driving, with good-sized front seats that support well, complemented by a logical placement of controls, simple to read markings and things that work the way you expect them to.
ŠKODA's stylists have modified the standard wagon by adding protective cladding around the wheel arches and in the lower areas of the bumpers. That, combined with larger diameter wheels and tyres, improves its visual appearance. ŠKODA Octavia Scout is based on the regular Octavia station wagon, but has four-wheel drive and increased ground clearance, up by 20 millimetres to 180 millimetres, over the standard Octavia wagon.
That ground clearance is a good compromise between the 140-150 or so millimetres of an on-road station wagon and the 200 millimetres-plus of a dedicated 4WD. The clearance is backed up by reasonably good clearance angles, though feel the front could be better, and lets families explore forest trails, drive on the beach and visit snowy areas with few, if any hassles.
On-road handling and comfort are almost to car standards. The Scout is stable on bends and makes light work of the 110-120km/h cruising that's so normal on Australian country roads. Noise, vibration and harshness are well controlled and you will arrive at the end of a long run feeling relaxed.
Should the driver make a mistake they will be helped out of trouble by standard safety equipment such as ESP (Electronic Stability Program).
The ESP system incorporates electronics that keep the brake discs dry during wet weather. It does this by gently applying the brakes from time to time to wipe off the water- dry discs help stop the car in less distance. Secondary safety is looked after by six airbags.
Four adults can stretch out in comfort and if you want to carry a third in the centre-rear position they won't suffer from over much shoulder rubbing. However, footroom is badly compromised by a wide transmission tunnel and a centre console that extends rearwards a long way.
Our road test Scout for the past week had a turbo-diesel engine and a six-speed manual gearbox. The engine is a comparatively old Volkswagen unit that produces 103kW and 320 Newton metres. We found it to be reasonably quiet (for a diesel) and it's only when you are outside the vehicle that the noise really intrudes. Torque is healthy and is there from about 1600 revs upwards, with a real boost once you get past 2000rpm. There's the inevitable turbo lag you will find in any engine of this type. Fuel consumption is impressively low.