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The secret diary of a motoring journalist aged 39¾'ish


3rd February 2020

It’s more than 20 years since the Octavia catapulted Skoda into the mainstream and major sales success, followed by the Fabia a couple of years later. Now, we have the Scala to nestle between these mainstays of the Skoda range. Rather than being squeezed by them, the Scala, I think, tells of a true confidence from the Czech outpost of the VW Group as the firm takes on the likes of the Golf and Ford Focus head-on.
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The Scala cleverly offers a body that’s more estate than hatch without the cumbersome appearance of many wagons in the small hatch sector. That boot also means you have 467-litres to fill with shopping and kids clutter. There’s a bit of a drop from load sill to boot floor, but it’s big, well shaped and the rear seats split 40/60 for bigger loads. There’s also a useful cargo net on the underside of the parcel shelf to keep those small bits and pieces from roaming free.
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Up to Perth and then into Edinburgh today, so plenty of time to stretch the legs of this Scala. It has the 115PS 1.0-litre TSI petrol engine and six-speed manual gearbox, which make happy bedfellows. It’s no ball of fire when accelerating, but the Scala nips along with traffic and it’s more refined than many of its similarly sized and powered rivals. Add in good throttle response, which makes zipping out of side streets that bit easier, and it’s good to drive.
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Another long day of driving here and there and this SE model of Scala has a driver’s seat that offers all the right kind of support. By the time I park up at home, there are no aches and the Skoda has been impressively refined over a variety of roads. It may not be the dab hand in corners that a Focus is, but I’ll take the comfort of the Skoda’s ride and its refinement every time, thanks.
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Moan alert: the following is a personal gripe. Yup, we’re back to lane keep assist and one of my pet hates. The Scala has it and it works as it should. However, like most VW Group models, you have to switch it off through the infotainment in the main dash and it’s just a low-level faff. Why not a simple button like the ones found in Mazdas or Kias? On country roads, lane assist is an irritation and distraction.
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While I was in Stirling this morning, I spotted this blast from the past. It seems Nicole has not fared well into middle age given the state of this early Renault Clio. Then again, the French-registered motor had clearly made its way this far and was still going. It also serves as a reminder of how big cars have become in the intervening 25 years as the Nissan Juke behind looms over it.
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It is freezing this morning as we head off for my son’s rugby match, but the ventilation controls exemplify all that is good about the Scala. Three quick twists of the dials and all is set to perfection. As the week with the Skoda draws to a close, it’s worked its way into my affections and average fuel economy bang on the lower claimed figure of 44.8mpg makes it decently easy on the wallet.
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