ŠKODA Octavia Scout DSG: review
27 March 2012 - carsguide.com.au by Neil Downing
Buyers are voting with their right foot for automatic cars but there's a slow reaction from some makers of diesel-engined vehicles.
Skoda last year fitted its Scout all-wheel drive wagon with an dual-clutch automated manual - called DSG by Skoda and its parent, Volkswagen. By comparison Subaru, who retain a lion's share of the SUV wagon market, only offer its diesel-engined Forester and Outback with a manual gearbox.
It gives Skoda - and the other makes who combine diesel with auto - a big advantage in a very competitive market segment.
Skoda in Australia sells at a slight premium compared with similar models in Europe. But we get more features. Even against its rivals, the entry-level Scout is very well equipped - for example, heated front seats, sat-nav and rear park sensors - that prick buyer interest.
The Premium edition adds leather, sunroof and electric driver's seat for an extra $4000. Skodas - built in the Czech Republic - have a good name for quality and durability and the expanding national dealer network adds peace of mind.
The 103TDI turbo-diesel has been in every Volkswagen Group model save for Lamborghini, Bentley and Bugatti - and even then, don't count it out. It's strong, reliable, fuel and emission efficient and despite its reputation as a solid unit, can produce some sparkling moments in its performance. It has recently been tweaked to cut emissions and fuel consumption.
The dual clutch automated manual (DSG) transfers power through its six cogs to the front wheels and has an "on demand" Haldex coupling that will engage rear wheels when the front wheels lose traction. Up to 98 per cent of engine power can be distributed to the rear wheels and the system can also be locked in 4WD for low-speed use.
I've seen prettier cars but it's rare to see one this size have so much cabin room. The boot is simply huge, especially adding in the underfloor storage area which already has a full-size spare wheel. The cabin is austere but functional, despite being a little bit narrower than some rivals.
The centre monitor for the satellite-navigation system is easy to use and read. Seats look narrow but are very comfortable and supportive, even on a long country drive. There's lots of personal storage spaces such as the innovative holders built into the cushion surrounds of the front seats. Perfect for a mobile phone or coffee cup.
Crash testing gives the Scout a four-star rating and that's something that a new model will address. Standard features are six airbags, electronic stability control, anti-slip regulator and brake assist. The spare wheel is full size.
The Scout is an Octavia wagon with an off-road pack that includes underbody protection and heavy-duty suspension. It sits slightly higher than the Octavia wagon yet handling is sure-footed. The steering is relaxed, suiting its touring and light-duty off-road capability, and though it sits confidently on the road, it doesn't inspire sporty driving.
It has an "on demand" AWD system so there's a slight lag before the rear wheels become powered. Ride comfort is very good, especially as the body feels taut and rides over rutted roads with purpose. Engine and road noise are low - though the diesel grumbles at idle - which enhances its touring ability. It's also a lovely engine with a meaty mid-range that suits the rapid-shifting DSG box.
Czech people are pragmatic - apparently more so than Germans - and that defines this car. It's functional, solid and does its job without fuss. Sure, it's not the prettiest around but it is almost assured of being around pretty much longer than the rest.
SKODA OCTAVIA SCOUT DSG
Warranty: 3 years, unlimited km
Service Interval: 15,000km or 12 months
Economy: 6.1 l/100km; 160g/km CO2
Safety Equipment: six airbags, ESC, ABS, EBD, EBA, TC.
Crash rating: 4 star
Engine: 103kW/320Nm 2.0-litre turbo-diesel
Transmission: Six-speed DSG auto
Body: 5-door wagon, 5 seats
Dimensions: 4584 (L); 1784mm (W); 1533mm (H); 2577mm (WB)
Tyre size: 225/50R17. Spare tyre Full size