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First Drive: Škoda Scala

The C-Sector is a tough nut to crack, so has Škoda succeeded with Scala? Martyn Collins finds out.

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SECTOR C-Segment   PRICE £16,595-£23,315   FUEL 56.5 – 67.3mpg   CO2 108-113g/km

Astra, Focus, Golf and now Scala. Yes, there’s a new player in the popular C-Segment – Škoda, but this isn’t the first time Škoda has played in this sector. They previously had the dated and forgettable Fabia-based Rapid, the model the Scala replaces. Although the Rapid was a best-seller in Europe, this wasn’t the case in the UK.

Instead, this time round, Scala is underpinned by the scalable MQB AO platform, that debuted on the latest SEAT Ibiza and Volkswagen Polo. At 4.36m in length, the Scala is no supermini – in fact, it’s 10cm longer than the current Golf.

This extra length means the Scala feels exceptionally spacious – whether you’re in the front or back. Even the tallest six-foot passengers will have plenty of knee room in the rear and more surprisingly – enough headroom not to be brushing the roof lining. In the front of the Scala, all the switches and switchgear are logically placed, the driving position is comfortable and the dashboard stylish. Look closer, and all the switches are obviously borrowed from the Volkswagen Group parts bin. Plus, despite a general move to electric handbrakes, the Scala has a good old rachet one. Sadly, the trim quality won’t worry a Volkswagen Golf, but is a match for fleet favourite, the Ford Focus. The boot is also a good size at 467-litres – even with the seats up.

Outside, the Scala shows Škoda’s next level family look. At the rear there’s a distinctive curvy and mostly glass tailgate, with Focus-esque Scala nameplate spread across the middle. The high-set rear lights are also LED-lit, and if you go for the range-topping SE L trim, it gets Audi-style scrolling indicators.

The Scala’s engine line comprises of one 115hp 1.6-litre TDI diesel, and three petrol engines, made up of two 1.0-litre TSIs with 95 and 115hp and the 150hp 1.5 TSi. Each of these engines is fitted with five or six-speed manuals, plus seven-speed DSG auto. The 1.0-litre TSI in 115hp flavour, with manual transmission is expected to be the top fleet seller, offering 56.5mpg fuel consumption (WLTP) and CO2 emissions of 113g/km (NEDC Correlated).

All Scalas are well-equipped, but SE is expected to be the key fleet spec, with 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, manual air-conditioning, rear parking sensors, and 8-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth and SmartLink+. Another attraction of the Scala being built on the MQB AO platform is the fact it’s fitted with the full suite of safety kit, including side and blind spot assist, rear traffic alert, adaptive cruise control and Park Assist. ‘Simply clever’ features, such as the parking ticket holder on the A pillar, the screen washer cap that changes into a funnel and the fuel cap-stored ice scraper that doubles as a tyre tread depth gauge are nice touches.

On the road, the 115hp 1.0-litre TSI petrol feels willing and helps give a pleasingly light feel to this car. This engine is well-matched to the slick six-speed manual gearbox too. Dynamically, the Focus is more polished and fun, but the Scala still drives well. The steering is reasonably precise, and this Škoda is a tidy handler, with body roll well controlled – with the ride on the 16-inch wheels being refined and comfortable.

The Verdict
With Scala, Škoda has the right ingredients to be a real player in the C-Sector, and rivals should be worried.

Star Rating 3.5/5

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Martyn Collins

Martyn has 18 years experience as a motoring journalist, working across a wide selection of B2B and consumer titles. A car enthusiast since his early years, Martyn has a particular interest in the latest models and technology and in his spare time enjoys driving his own Minis.