Although Europe has had access to ŠKODA’s updated large sedan and wagon since late last year, it’s remained just out of reach for Australia.
It’s still not quite running at full strength; the updated SUPERB range will be here in full force later this year. In the meantime, ŠKODA is bridging the gap between models with a limited-run of SUPERB SCOUT wagons.
It’s no better at tying knots than a regular SUPERB wagon, and didn’t once help an old lady cross the road during our time behind the wheel.
What it is, however, is a spacious and comfortable wagon with the added bonus of a more off-road ready ride height, tougher looks, and a generous helping of standard equipment.
Pricing for the SCOUT kicks off at $59,490 before on-road costs, with very few options available.
The only options are paint and a panoramic glass sunroof, the latter of which will set you back $1900. Metallic or pearl colours are $770, Velvet Red paint is $1100, and Tangerine paint is priced at $1700.
Rivals for the SCOUT are few and far between. The Subaru Outback has a similar high-riding wagon body and highly-specced cabin, and will set you back $50,490 before on-road costs in range-topping 3.6R Premium guise.
However it’s not quite as ‘premium’ as the ŠKODA, nor is it quite as large. ŠKODA’s equivalent-sized SUV is the Kodiaq which, optioned up in Sportline guise, has a similar starting price to the SUPERB.
But the KODIAQ can’t be optioned with the more powerful petrol engine from the Scout. The most powerful ŠKODA SUV is the KODIAQ RS, which has a diesel engine and a starting price north of $70,000.
The ŠKODA SUPERB SCOUT is chock full with everything in the ŠKODA kit bag.
On the outside, you get Matrix LED headlamps and LED tail lights with scrolling indicators, fog lights, 18-inch alloy wheels, extra underbody protection, and black cladding for the wheel arches, body trim, and bumpers. There’s also a SCOUT badge on the front flanks.
Inside, the driver and passenger sit in leather and suede-trimmed seats. They’re electrically adjustable with memory, and heated for good measure.
The outboard rear seats are also heated, as is the three-spoke steering wheel.
There’s a 9.2-inch touchscreen infotainment display on the dashboard with satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto, while the driver is faced with a 10.25-inch digital Virtual Cockpit instrument binnacle. You also get a Canton premium sound system.
Keyless entry and start, tyre-pressure monitoring, privacy glass, stainless steel pedals, a powered tailgate with gesture control, and adaptive chassis control round out the standard equipment list.
The current-generation ŠKODA SUPERB wears a five-star safety rating based on 2015 testing protocols.
In crash tests conducted by sister firm Euro NCAP, the SUPERB managed 86 per cent for adult occupant protection, 86 per cent for child occupant protection, 76 per cent for safety assist, and 71 per cent for pedestrian detection.
A range of active safety features are standard, including city and high-speed autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control with Traffic Jam Assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping assist, and a reversing camera.
Massive. At 4863mm long and 1864mm wide with a 2841mm wheelbase, the SCOUT is almost BMW 5 Series sized. That means there’s acres of room for passengers, both front and rear.
This being a wagon, we’re going to start at the rear. Space under the creased boot lid is a claimed 660L with the rear seats in place, expanding to 1950L with them folded.
The boot lip is low, and there’s enough netting back there to secure even the most obscure of loads. There are handy (and removable) LED torches on hand, and the luggage cover can be removed without breaking any fingernails, which isn’t always the case.
It also can be half slid, and doesn’t need to be manually unhooked. You just press on its end and it slides slowly back into the reel, which is a nice touch.
The seats can be folded using clips near the headrests, or remotely using pulls from the boot.
Unfortunately, they don’t fold completely flat – there’s a small hump, and the seats are angled slightly. It’s not an issue if you mostly carry sporting equipment like me. My XL road bike slotted in without hassle.
Rear seat space is excellent, even with six-footers sitting behind six-footers. Although the roof looks quite low from the outside headroom is generous even with the optional panoramic sunroof fitted, and the outboard seats are broad enough for big-boned passengers.
The central seat is slightly raised, and is best reserved for smaller kids or very skinny adults.
Finally, the front is a functional and well-featured space. The seating position is excellent for a wide range of body styles, and the seats themselves are supportive and cushy.
There’s a few storage options, including a large central bin, lined door pockets, central cupholders, and a wireless phone charger under the dashboard, but it’s not quite as practical as the immensely clever centre console on the Kodiaq and Karoq crossovers.
ŠKODA’s infotainment system is glossy and easy to use, with snappy responses and simple menus. The Virtual Cockpit digital instrument binnacle remains a standard-setter for its clarity and customisation potential, too.
All the materials feel high quality, but we can’t help but wish more thought was put into the SUPERB’s design. It’s a bit bland compared to the Kodiaq or even the related Volkswagen Passat Alltrack inside, with a simple dashboard design.
Some people will like the unpretentious layout, but even the wood trim option offered overseas would be nice for a dash of visual excitement.
On the other hand, the SUPERB does feature a range of surprise and delight ‘Simply Clever’ touches. I love the in-door rubbish bin, and the pop-out LED torches are handy to have. Kids will appreciate the tablet holders integrated into the headrests, as will parents keen for some respite on long road trips.
Power in the SUPERB SCOUT comes from a variation of the EA888 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo engine used in the Volkswagen Golf R. It pumps out 200kW of power and 350Nm of torque in this guise, sent to all four wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
Claimed fuel economy is rated at 7.1L/100km on the combined cycle, while the 0-100km/h sprint is dispatched in a claimed 5.7 seconds.
Although the Audi RS3 and ŠKODA KAROQ 140TSI have since arrived with petrol particulate filters, the SCOUT was actually the first Volkswagen Group product to land in Australia with the emissions-beating feature.
Necessary to meet emissions regulations in Europe, the filter is designed to catch the worst, most harmful particles in the car’s exhaust and burn them off at high temperatures to prevent them being emitted into the atmosphere.
ŠKODA is stressing the fact owners need to use premium unleaded in the car. Australian petrol contains significantly more sulphur than the unleaded sold in Europe, especially in the case of 91RON regular unleaded, which can clog the filter.
If the car is filled with the wrong fuel just a few times, owners face a hefty repair bill.
Effortless is the word that comes to mind for the SCOUT.
The EA888 engine is a known quantity by now – and what we know about it is almost exclusively good. With peak torque on tap between 2000rpm and 5400rpm you’re essentially always in the power band, and it’s never anything but silky smooth.
In normal driving, the dual-clutch transmission shuffles to the tallest gear possible at the earliest opportunity. It’ll slide to fourth at just 40km/h which somewhat dulls throttle response, but also makes for impressive fuel economy numbers on the combined cycle.
Thankfully, it’s quick to kick down when you lean harder on the accelerator.
The dual-clutch transmission is snappy on the move, and isn’t jerky off the line like the units in lower-powered Volkswagen Group products. It’s an excellent partner for the punchy 2.0-litre engine, and can manually shifted using the paddles behind the wheel when you’re in a hurry.
Although it’s a big car, the SCOUT shows an impressive turn of speed when the kids are late for school. It pulls hard to redline, and even has a pleasingly velvety growl in Sport Mode. It doesn’t feel all that far removed from the Golf R.
Its raised ride might suggest an SUV-style drive, but the high-riding SUPERB still feels like a regular passenger car. There’s a bit more suspension travel over speed bumps, but otherwise the SCOUT just feels like a SUPERB that’s been lifted 15mm.
The ride is appropriately plush in Normal, although sharp-edged bumps can sneak into the cabin. Switching into Comfort slackens body control right off, for a floaty, luxurious-feeling ride. Comfort quickly became our go-to.
It’s perfectly in keeping with the SCOUT’s comfortable, polished nature. It’s effortless to drive around town, with light steering and excellent all-around visibility, aided by the clear reversing camera and parking sensors.
And when the speed rises, the SUPERB SCOUT settles down with a coffin-quiet cabin. It’s near silent on the highway, with almost no tyre roar or wind rustle sneaking into the cabin which, combined with the long-legged ride and punchy engine, makes this an ideal road trip car.
As for Sport Mode? It’s too sharp in the city, but with stiffer suspension and heavier steering it allows the SCOUT to really get up and dance when the road gets twisty. It’s no Golf R, but you’ll be able to keep the kids awake if you’re in a hurry.
ŠKODA covers the SUPERB SCOUT with a five year, unlimited kilometre warranty.
It offers pre-paid service packages for either the first three or five years of ownership costing $900 and $1700 respectively.
A used car service pack can be purchased after the first 15,000km scheduled service for $1600, and is valid for the next four visits.
Can you tell we like the SUPERB SCOUT?
Just 300 are coming to Australia, so it’s not going to be a common sight on our roads. But if you’re after a capable, comfortable, handsome family hauler there are few better out there for this money.
We’ll be getting to know the SCOUT pretty well – it’s with us for the next three months as a long-termer. Based on our initial impressions, life is going to be pretty good.
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