Skoda Octavia Scout 2.0 TDI (2008) | CARkeys

21 Sep 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Skoda Octavia Scout 2.0 TDI (2008) | CARkeys

Skoda Octavia Scout

2.0 TDI review

The market for this kind of thing is presumably quite small . but if an apparently ordinary estate car with a surprising amount of off-road ability is what you need, the Skoda Octavia Scout has to be considered an excellent choice.

To create the Scout, Skoda has taken the standard Octavia 4×4 estate, raised the ride height (already greater than that of the front-wheel drive cars) by a further 17mm, and added aluminium undertrays front and rear along with protective body mouldings, just in case you get too close to the scenery.

These things are not in themselves enough to justify the £1000 premium over the 4×4 estate, but the Scout is also noticeably better-equipped, with 17 alloy wheels, aluminium pedals, spotlights under the door mirrors, cruise control, automatic headlights and wipers, rear parking sensors, rear privacy glass, a rear centre armrest, twin chrome exhausts and – for those interesting off-road moments – a passenger handle above the glovebox.

The Scout comes in two forms, and I venture to suggest that the one being discussed here is the more obvious choice. The alternative is basically the same car, but it uses the Volkswagen Group’s 148bhp two-litre FSI petrol engine. Although opting for the test car’s estimable 138bhp 2.0 TDI turbo diesel adds nearly £2000 to the list price, I think I would still prefer the diesel’s better low-speed control, to say nothing of the fact that the TDI has long since demonstrated its fine abilities on tarmac.

It would, of course, be the act of a silly person to overestimate the Scout’s prowess on the rough stuff. If your lifestyle requires you to scramble over really difficult terrain, this is not the machine for you. You need a proper SUV, and that’s that.

However, the Scout is perfectly happy on ground which would be a matter of grave concern in an ordinary car. I took this one over some familiar forest tracks – often smooth, occasionally treacherously potholed – and it coped admirably. Parking with two wheels in deepish mud on a steep incline and driving off again, for example, presented no problem, whereas in a normal-height two-wheel drive car it would have been messy and might have required a call for help.

My only complaint, as far as off-roading is concerned, is that Skoda supplies a space-saver wheel as standard. I’m not a great fan of these in any case, but in a car like the Scout it seems like a particularly bad move. Imagine a situation, for instance, in which you had to replace a punctured tyre at the bottom of a muddy slope, and then tried to clamber out with proper tyres on three wheels and a piece of nonsense on the fourth.

Not for me, thanks.

On a more positive note, the Scout’s ride quality over really rough sections is astonishing, and that applies on normal roads too. It’s quite obvious on tarmac that you’re driving a car with a high centre of gravity and a lot of suspension movement, but at everyday speeds there was not the slightest suggestion that I might get into trouble. The extra height also makes a small but useful difference to the view over hedges and other obstructions.

If it weren’t for that large price difference, there would seem to be little to choose between the Scout and the regular 4×4 estate. As it is, though, the estate is definitely the one to go for, unless you really need the extra off-road ability or you’re enticed by the Scout’s higher level of equipment.

In terms of running costs, the differences are minimal. With its extra weight and height, the Scout inevitably uses more fuel, but on the combined test the margin is less than 1mpg, and the performance gap between the two cars is similarly footling. CO2 emissions are close enough that they both fall into VED Band E (partly because the 4×4 estate rather unfortunately sits right on the threshold – 1g/km less and it would be in Band D).

A regular front-wheel drive Octavia estate with the same engine is much more economical and lies in Band C for taxation purposes, but that’s the price you pay for the weight and complexity of four-wheel drive. And of course for its benefits; admirable though this Octavia is in many ways, I wouldn’t take it into forests with anything like the enthusiasm I did in the Scout.

Would I buy a Scout personally? No. Other Octavias would suit me better – I just don’t need the opportunities that it offers.

But it may be revealing that, by the time the test car was taken from me at the end of the week, I was beginning to wish that I did.

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