Skoda Scala (2019-present)

Skoda’s spacious and well-equipped hatchback offers family buyers serious value for money - but little excitement

Strengths & Weaknesses

Strengths 

Interior space
Well-equipped trim levels
Huge boot

Weaknesses 

Unexciting to drive
Cheapest spec lacks good entertainment system
Diesel is a little noisy

The small family hatchback segment of the car market is jam-packed with good cars: apart from the obvious Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf, there’s the Seat Leon, Kia Ceed, Hyundai i30 and Mazda 3 – and that’s not even getting into the premium models, such as the BMW 1 Series, Mercedes-Benz A-Class and Audi A3.

And now there’s another option: the Skoda Scala, which is the Czech company’s replacement for the Rapid Spaceback, fitting in its model line-up between Fabia and Octavia.

The Rapid Spaceback was a decent-enough car, if a little unexciting, but the Scala is a different proposition entirely. OK, exciting might be stretching it a little, but it's certainly a really solid car, with a lot going for it.

Take the design. The overall exterior shape is reminiscent of the Audi A3 Sportback and there are a number of features that show how Skoda’s design is evolving, with a new nose, well-placed (and just the right amount of) styling creases in the bodywork to give it a degree of dynamism and a good use of LED lighting – all of which adds up to a pretty sporty-looking machine.

Inside, this emphasis on design continues, along with solid fit and finish, quality materials and a well-laid-out dashboard. There’s lots of equipment as standard, with a range of entertainment screens, depending on which of the three trim levels you opt for (the 9.2-inch glass screen on the range-topping SE L is very good) and all the tech you’d expect in a car launched in 2019.

Skoda is a past master at packaging (maximising the space in a car), so it’s no surprise that when you sit in the rear of the Scala, there’s buckets of legroom and decent headroom for adults. Frankly, none of its rivals comes close.

The same is true of boot capacity. The nearest rival is the Hyundai i30’s 395 litres, but that’s still a whole 72 litres short of the Scala’s 467 litres. Most of the cars in the class are around the 380-litre mark, while the Focus has a 341-litre capacity.

Where it cedes ground to the Focus or Golf, however, is in its on-road characteristics. There are no issues with the way the Scala drives, but there’s little in the way of the involvement that you get with the better cars in the class. The steering is accurate enough, and it feels perfectly safe and consistent in the way it handles, while the ride quality is very Skoda-like, in that is soaks up most of the bumps, humps and broken surfaces it encounters, with only the worst causing any disturbance to comfort levels.

The engine range is small but perfectly formed, with two versions of a 1.0-litre, three-cylinder unit likely to be the popular choices.

There are three trim levels – all of which are well equipped – for buyers to choose from. With prices starting from £16,595, the Scala is very competitively priced, especially when you take into account how much equipment is included with every model, including LED headlights, DAB radio, and safety features including autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and lane assist.

The Scala should prove to be a very appealing proposition for any buyers in the market for a family hatchback. Practical, good looking, offering real value for money and probably reliable (Skoda has a good record in this department), it's a car that will tick a lot of boxes.

Last Updated 

Tuesday, April 9, 2019 - 14:45

Key facts 

Warranty: 
3 years/60,000 miles
Boot size: 
467-1,410 litres
Width: 
1,793mm
Length: 
4,362mm
Height: 
1,471mm
Tax: 
£150-170 in first year and £145 thereafter

Best Skoda Scala for... 

Skoda Scala 1.6 TDI
The diesel Scala is, not surprisingly, the most economical version for buyers, with an official figure of 67.2mpg.
Skoda Scala 1.0 TSI 115PS
The more powerful three-cylinder variant offers a decent (on paper, at least) fuel consumption figure and a sub-10-second 0-62mph time, which is a good compromise for daily use.
Skoda Scala 1.5 TSI
A bigger petrol engine means more performance, so the 0-62mph sprint can be achieved in 8.2 seconds.

Skoda Scala History 

December 2018 The Scala was unveiled to the public
July 2019 Goes on sale

Understanding Skoda Scala car names 

  • Scala
  • Engine
    1.0 TSI 115PS
  • Trim
    SE
  • Gearbox
    6-speed manual
  • Engine
    The Scala range offers three petrol units and one diesel to buyers. The petrol engines are two versions of the 1.0-litre and a 1.5-litre, with a 1.6-litre diesel rounding off the range.
  • Trim
    There are three trim levels – S, SE and SE L – which offer different packages of equipment, with the better-equipped cars costing more money.
  • Gearbox
    All engines are mated to a six-speed manual gearbox, with buyers of the 1.5 petrol and 1.6 diesel also having the option of a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox.

Skoda Scala Engines 

Petrol 1.0 TSI 95PS, 1.0 TSI 115 PS, 1.5 TSI

Diesel 1.6 TDI

The Scala’s engine range reflects a decline in demand for diesel units.

The sole diesel is a 1.6 TDI that is fitted in many, many Volkswagens, Skodas, Seats, and Audis.

It offers a good blend of decent refinement, performance and fuel economy. It's not exciting to drive and if you try and wrench out of it as much power as it will give, it can sound a bit raucous. But it will save you quite a few trips to the filling station over the period of its ownership, compared to any of the petrol cars.

The entry-level petrol engine is a turbocharged 1.0-litre unit, producing 95PS (1.0 TSI 95PS). We haven’t tested it yet, but our educated guess is that it will be a lot like the next engine in the range, which is the same basic engine, but tuned to produce 115PS (1.0 TSI 115PS).

In common with all small engines like these, you need to keep the rev counter above 2,000rpm, even around town, to continue making decent progress, and this can mean that fuel economy suffers.

If performance is what you want, the 1.5 TSI is the choice. This is a very flexible, usable engine that offers similar fuel consumption to the 1.0 TSI, but the additional power generated (it pumps out 150PS) makes it quicker over the benchmark 0-62mph sprint and able to maintain that pace beyond that mark when travelling on dual carriageways and motorways.

Fuel

Fuel economy

Power

Acceleration (0-62mph)

Top speed

1.0 TSI 95PS

petrol

TBC

95hp

TBC

TBC

1.0 TSI 115PS

petrol

56.5mpg

115hp

9.8s

125mph

1.5 TSI

petrol

56.5mpg

150hp

8.2s

136mph

1.6 TDI

diesel

67.2mpg

115hp

10.1s

125mph

Skoda Scala Trims 

S, SE, SE L

The Scala has a straightforward range of just three trim levels, all of which have good levels of equipment.

The base S trim package, which starts at £16,595, contains 16-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights (which, to date, have generally not been included on cars in this price range), tinted windows, air conditioning with pollen filter, DAB, electric windows, Bluetooth, 6.5-inch screen, two USB ports, eCall (which enables the car to automatically contact emergency services in the event of a crash), and hill hold control.

For an additional £1,185, the SE trim adds 16-inch alloys with a different design, front fog lights, lumbar support for front seats, cruise control, 8-inch touchscreen, smartphone connection, reading lights and glasses holder in the roof above the dashboard, alarm, auto lights and wipers, and an umbrella cunningly stored in the door.

The range-topping SE L trim, for an extra £1,800 on top of the SE price, adds 17-inch alloys, LED rear lights, privacy glass, electric folding wing mirrors, seats with a ‘Microsuede’ upholstery, keyless entry with start/stop, 9.2-inch touchscreen, a one-year subscription to online services, virtual cockpit display in the instrument panel (which offers a range of digital screen options), start/stop button and climate control air conditioning.

Skoda Scala Reliability and warranty 

The Scala is too new to qualify for the most recent Auto Express Driver Power survey, but a number of Skoda models fare well and the brand is sixth in the table of most reliable manufacturers.

The Scala has the standard Skoda warranty of three years or 60,000 miles, which is comparable with most of its rivals, but doesn’t match the five-year package of the Hyundai i30 or the seven-year cover for the Kia Ceed.

Used Skoda Scala 

This buyers’ guide was written before the Scala was about to be launched in the UK, so there are no used examples on the market as yet.