When the crossover reigns supreme it’s refreshing to see manufacturers still developing affordable, family orientated hatchbacks, queue the Skoda Scala.
Prices start from just £16,940, the model seen here is an SE, one up from the entry-level S. Base price £18,130, add a few choice options, like the 17” alloys, keyless start/stop and the tailgate design pack, along with a few others and the total comes to £22,340.
So the Scala is a hatchback, but it looks almost estate-like thanks to its long body and slightly lifted rear. Don’t let looks mistake you though, the Scala is firmly aimed at the likes of the Golf and Focus to win the best family car title.
You might be wondering what a ‘tailgate design pack’ is, it’s just the rear hatchback part in glass, that’s all. A pricey, but worthy upgrade at £430. It’s different, and matched with the Porsche-esque lettering and the rear end looks suitably upmarket.
You’ll find that vibe throughout the Scala SE, from the little ‘Skoda Lighting Design’ text in the headlights to the floating door handles on the inside.
A wide grille gives the family hatch some road presence, the angular designs getting very close to that of its sister brand SEAT. You’ll also notice the LED daytime running lights and full LED headlights – it’s great to see such modern tech on a car of this price.
Overall, it’s smart and inoffensive. Just what you want your family hatch to be.
Our Scala SE had the 1.6 TDI engine fitted, this means 114 BHP and a healthy 250 Nm of torque to help keep things punchy. 0-62 is a tame 10.1 seconds but doesn’t feel lacking.
The majority of buyers will no doubt tick the 1.0-litre TSI box, if you do, just make sure you go for at least the 115PS / 114BHP model, anything less will be frustratingly slow.
For those looking for extra power, the 1.5 TSI provides 148 BHP to play with, but expect to pay at least £20,310 for the privilege. Oh, and there are DSG boxes available with all but the lowest power engine.
Ride is soft and supple, the Skoda eats up miles with ease. Naturally, there’s body roll upon harder cornering, but that’s what’s loveable in cars like the Scala, they’re so forgiving. Rough sections of tarmac are barely noticed, the nearest thing to compare it too is just how well the Golf rides over such imperfections.
Our upgraded 17” alloys were just an inch bigger than the standard fit ones, we’ve not sampled the originals, but the ride was still superb. I can only imagine things get somewhat softer with even more sidewall to ride on.
Shifting the incredibly slick six-speed manual is a joy, it feels tight and connected. Match that with the impressive levels of grip and even though things get a bit leany, you can really push on at a pace in the Scala.
Over a whopping 386 miles we still weren’t on the red light and had managed 40.2 MPG. You still can’t beat a diesel for efficiency.
Inside continues in the same vein as the exterior, it’s damn impressive. The only interior extras here are the central armrest which features two USB ports. The 8” infotainment screen is standard fit, with Skoda’s skinned VAG software which is incredibly easy to use.
SmartLink includes Apple CarPlay Android Auto and MirrorLink, again, all as standard on this SE model. It’s also the first car we’ve seen with USB-C ports – you get a handy adapter in case you don’t have a double-ended USB-C cable to hand.
Music lovers will rejoice as the standard ‘Bolero’ stereo with eight speakers is superb, remaining clear up to incredibly loud levels.
On SE you also get Bluetooth, cruise control, DAB radio, electric heated door mirrors, easy light and front assist, cooled glovebox, height-adjustable front seats, hill hold, lane assist, leather multi-functional steering wheel, rain assist with auto-dimming rearview mirror, storage compartments under the front seats and last but not least, an umbrella.
The only thing that lets it down are the manual heating controls, they feel cheap and plasticky. You can remedy this by adding dual-zone climate control for a steep £600.
Rear seat legroom is generous, a larger adult could sit in comfort without brushing their knees or head, all while allowing a Golf killing 467-litre boot at the very back.
After spending a week with the Skoda Scala SE, I was truly blown away by the quality and value for money on offer. It’s spacious, drives superbly, includes high kit levels and is cheap (compared to modern-day new car prices).
In SE guise at £18,130, it really is all the car you could ever need. Yes, there are plenty of options, but an off the peg Scala at this price point would suit the majority of buyers down to the ground.
Watch out Golf, I know where my money would go.