The Skoda Octavia Combi was already available with four-wheel
drive; however the Scout has much more to offer. It all starts with
that expected anticipation of the Scout's uniform. Impact strips
run along the car; protection plates run under the car. Wide-beam
lights are mounted in the bumpers. The picture is complete with
double exhaust and 17 inch alloys which were specially designed for
The Octavia Scout is unmistakably rougher and sturdier then the
ordinary Octavia. Yet, at the same time the Scout doesn't have the
pomposity of an off-road vehicle. Other road users admire it with
interest rather than the usual irritation reserved for the
space-consuming, petrol-guzzling SUVs.
The Scout's interior has taken on board its adventurous
character. Pedals with rubber grooves aren't just for the show of
it; the grooves give an absolutely necessary extra grip to slippery
footwear. Above the dashboard compartment, there is a large hand
grip, to which the front passenger can cling when the driver is
having a little bit of fun. Even during the test drive this handy
piece of equipment proved to be more than just for show.
The Octavia Scout is meant as a clever alternative to the SUV
(Sports Utility Vehicle) or off-road vehicle. However SUVs
are bought for more than just their sturdy appearance. By
definition SUVs are large and thus roomy. Consequently the Octavia
estate is only available as a “Scout”, and not as a
saloon. The Octavia estate is of middling size with a maximum of
580 litres luggage space. Of course the Scout as always is prepared
for everything and is as standard equipped with roof rails for
either a ski box or bicycle carrier.
In the front, the Octavia Scout has not only the surprising
space of an off-road vehicle, but also more than sufficient head
and legroom. This unfortunately at the cost of legroom in the rear.
When the driver's seat is in the furthest position - which is
fortunately designed for drivers over 6'8" - there is almost no
legroom left in the rear.
The design of the interior is typical Skoda with many of its
components having clearly been borrowed from its parent company,
Volkswagen. The Octavia does have a slightly less clinical feeling.
Although it isn't easy to substantiate, not only this test driver
but also all its passengers felt particularly comfortable in the
Scout. The car bestows a remarkably trusted and pleasant feeling.
The final destination for this test drive is the Italian city of
Turin; the scene of the Winter Olympic Games in 2006. On the
motorway, the Scout behaves just like an ordinary Octavia. The
wheelbase is a couple of centimetres shorter than that of the
majority of competitors. Consequently, the Octavia is a little bit
less gentle over the road. Apart from that there is little else to
mention of its driving characteristics.
Over long distances, the Scout does offer ample comfort. Its
performance is good in spite of the raised suspension. In
comparison with an average SUV, the road handling can be considered
The Scout is available with petrol and diesel engines. The
technical specifications barely differ. Both are good up to a top
speed of 200 km/hr, being able to accelerate from rest to 100 km/hr
in around 10 seconds. A direct injection petrol engine produces 150
hp, 10 hp more than the diesel. The diesel engine wins however with
320 Nm pulling power for the diesel engine against 200 Nm for the
petrol engine. This explains exactly why these two engines in real
life have very different characters.
The Scout 2.0 FSI (= petrol) performs nicely on back roads,
climbs just like a mountain goat and moves smoothly through the
city. But the 2.0 TDI (= diesel) scores even better on all fronts.
The larger torque ensures significantly faster mid accelerations.
On the motorway, the rpms stay lower, the result of which is a more
comfortable ride in the Scout diesel. On top of which the Scout
diesel is also considerably more economical.
Irrespective of the engine, the Scout is equipped with a very
pleasant six-speed gearbox, which keeps consumption and engine
noises to a minimum.
Just outside of Turin lies Sestrière. The site of the
biathlon track is on this occasion to be used as a test track. The
steep slopes are under 10 cm snow, below which there is another 10
cm of thick mud. Even for a serious off-roader, this poses a
However, the Scout has neither low gearing (a special gearbox
with adapted ratios for off-roading) nor mud tyres. In theory the
turbo diesel test car is unsuitable for off-roading, at low rpms
there is insufficient pulling power and when the turbo does spring
into action there is so much power on hand that the Scout ends up
digging in. The only weapons in this battle are a raised suspension
(ground clearance of 18 cm) and four-wheel drive.
Even though you already trust the car when you get in, the same
remains true off-road. In theory, the turbo diesel is less ideal
for off-roading due to its irregular build-up of power; in reality,
it's easier to control. Climbing steep slopes is absolutely no
problem. When there is too much gas, the standard issue traction
control corrects this slip effectively. In spite of the lack of low
gearing, first gear has so much resistance that safe descents are easy.
Boulders and tree trunks do pose a problem. The ground clearance
in the Scout is larger than that of the average car; however this
is definitely not an off-roader. Moreover the front and rear
overhang ensure that the bumpers of the test car touch the ground
more than once during the intensity of battle; hence those infamous
Because the Scout is just an ordinary car, it is much easier to
feel what is going on under the tyres. The Scout does slide and
roll much less than a traditional off-road vehicle. This is a major
plus point in all this slippery snow and treacherous mud. Here the
Octavia Scout is not only an alternative for a SUV, it would appear
that it is even better!
The Scout ploughs resolutely and stubbornly through the deep
snow. Corners are taken with a controlled slide and the snow fun
just doesn't stop! The Autozine test car left the test track at
sunset as the very, very last car!
Simply Clever is Skoda's motto and this applies just as
much to the Octavia Scout. The Scout was designed as a clever
alternative to the SUV. The concept was successful. With its sturdy
finish, the Scout is distinguishable from the ordinary Octavia, but
the car is still sufficiently civilised that nobody could take
offence to it as is the case of an off-road vehicle.
The driving qualities of the Octavia Scout are nearly exactly
the same as though of the ordinary Octavia. Off road, the Scout
does get surprisingly far; many a SUV driver wouldn't dare go nor
do what an Octavia Scout can. For the moment, there doesn't seem to
be an end to this Scouting pleasure; the Roomster will be joining
the Scouts soon (Ivo Kroone).