For those of us that missed out on Latin classes, Scala means ‘ladder’ or ‘step’ but in Czech (particularly Skoda) it means ‘4.3m long nifty looking hatchback that’s as spacious as a wagon but as nimble as an alley cat’ – I’m not sure that’s the literal translation but I missed Czech language classes too. Anyway, Skoda NZ thought it was high time we took a look at what they’d crammed into the ‘Style’ model of the nameplate and we, of course, agreed.
For all intents and purposes, the Skoda Scala replaces the Rapid, however, it’s not a like for like situation that’s for sure. The Scala comes on a more advanced chassis (VW’s MQB-AO platform) which may not mean that much on the face of it, but it makes the Scala one of the safest cars in its ‘compact’ segment and enables it to use the groups latest assistance systems, which I’ll get to in a moment.
It has a refined, modern look with a proud Skoda family grille, crystalline/LED lights, defined lines along its profile and elongated glass on its tail. It boasts the largest bootspace in the segment (467L), oodles of stowage space and sets new benchmarks for rear passenger head and knee room. This all sounds great, but wait until you hear what the ‘Style’ has.
The Style is the Scala’s top of the line and as such comes jam-packed with goodies, including 18-inch Vega alloys, Bi-LED adaptive headlights, tinted glass, chrome window surrounds and heated wing-mirrors – and that’s just the outside.
It has a 1.5L engine that provides 110kW of power and 250Nm of torque. It sips fuel at a rate that would offend any gas station owner (5.7L/100km) and yet emits CO2 at a mere 129g/km. Keyless entry gets you inside, where you’re greeted with comfortable and supportive sports seats, red ambient lighting, leather flat-bottomed steering wheel, aluminium foot pedals and dual zone A/C.
A Bolero 8-inch colour touchscreen controls the infotainment, as expected it is ultra-clear and easy to navigate around. Aside from the usual smartphone connectivity and entertainment, you gain access to a myriad of driver and safety aids right there, including driver fatigue and adaptive cruise settings and sensors.
The Scala feels sturdy and well put together. There’s a reassuring clunk when you close the doors, the cabin feels well-thought-out. Push-button start has you on the go and the 7-speed DSG box changes gears sweetly. Having driven the 1L Ambition before, I was more than impressed with the extra 500ccs under the bonnet of the Style, it’s a much more confident drive both around the city and on the SH1. But it’s also remarkably frugal with fuel. I drove it for a week, crossing over the city several times and yet still returned the vehicle with just under half a tank. It’s quick to shut off cylinders on the move and the engine at the lights.
The Style comes with drive mode selection too, Eco, Normal and Sport, no prizes for guessing where I spent most of my review time. The Scala seems to feel at home in Sport so who am I to not comply?
Admittedly, we (my family and I) didn’t venture off on a long weekend away with the Scala but I somehow get the feeling that it would be quite happy to tag along.
Of course, being a Skoda it came with its ‘Simply Clever’ bits and bobs (the umbrella came in handy) but overall, it was the sheer scale (Scala reference) of driver accessories that came as standard that impressed me the most.