THE family hatchback sector has traditionally been a battleground for the big-selling Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf, Vauxhall Astra and a host of others.

But now there’s a new player on the block, and one that’s a match for any of those established models.

Pitched between the Czech company’s Fabia and Octavia, the Scala embodies the best of cockpit technology, with a bold design and one of the largest boots in this segment.

It’s available in three trim grades – S, SE and SEL – with three engine options and the choice of manual or DSG automatic transmission.

The tested model here – the 1.0-litre 115PS petrol version mated to DSG transmission and in SEL trim -must surely be the pick of the bunch. It has a price tag starting at £21,655 compared with a starting price on the S version of £16,595.

What comes as a huge surprise is the comfortable ride provided by the VW group’s MQB-AO platform, coupled with lovely light steering that makes driving around city environs such a doddle.

Add into this mix the superb DSG transmission and a lively turbocharged engine and you have a complete package.

There’s the option of drive mode select (£495) if you crave more thrust and a sportier drive, but for the most part the Scala drives just fine with a normal set-up.

Another surprise comes with the fuel economy. The official range is between 41.5 and 47.1mpg, but I topped 56mpg on one journey and found that I could regularly achieve upwards of 48mpg.

THE SEL version also comes with the virtual cockpit, a large configurable digital display that does away with the traditional speedometer and rev counter, plus a 9.2-inch touchscreen that provides navigation, phone link and audio settings plus an array of data and options. It’s crystal-clear and marred only by the lack of a rotary knob for the volume control. It’s also nice to see that a proper handbrake has been retained among all this state-of-the-art technology.

On the outside there’s plenty to admire, including narrow, tapered LED headlights, a striking upright radiator grille, animated rear indicators and aerodynamically optimised 17-inch alloy wheels.

Inside, the Scala combines high quality finishes with plenty of space, a plethora of storage compartments and a boot with a variable height floor offering 467 litres of space, which increases to 1,410 litres with the split back seats folded down.

A generous wheelbase of 2,649mm allows for 73mm of knee room in the rear, while the 982mm of rear headroom sets another benchmark in the segment. However, space for the those sitting in the middle rear seat is badly restricted by the centre floor block.

Clever touches include an electric tailgate and an electrically retractable towbar.

Customers can choose from four engine options (two petrol and one diesel) with power outputs ranging from 95PS to 150PS. The petrol range consists of two 1.0 TSI units with 95PS and 115PS and a 1.5 TSI engine with 150PS. The Scala’s diesel option is a 1.6 TDI unit that generates 115PS. All engines, with the exception of the 1.0 TSI 95PS, are available with the optional seven-speed DSG transmission.

The Scala may not be as refined as the Golf or match the Focus for its handling, but it undercuts both on price, is the best equipped and comes with features such as keyless entry, rear parking sensors and climate control as standard.

The roomy interior, comfortable ride and excellent fuel efficiency make it a compelling product and in many respects the best in its class. Thoroughly recommended, it deserves five stars as a great all-rounder.


Skoda Scala SE L 1.0 TSI DSG

Price: from £21,655 (Scala range from £16,595)

Engine: 1.0-litre TSI three-cylinder turbo petrol producing 115PS

Transmission: Seven-speed DSG automatic

Performance: 0 to 62mph in 9.9 seconds; top speed 123mph

Economy: 41.5 – 47.1mpg

CO2 emissions: 116g/km


Performance: ****

Economy: *****

Ride/Handling: *****

Space/Practicality: *****

Equipment: *****

Security/Safety: ****

Value For Money: *****

OVERALL: *****