WITH sales of SUVs and so-called crossover models soaring Skoda is proving the humble estate car can still make the grade in the booming leisure-oriented auto market.
Toughened up and riding high the Skoda Octavia Estate Scout is more than a match for any 4x4.
Not only is it a very capable load lugger it also comes with all-wheel-drive and a multi-mode drive control which gives it genuine off-road ability.
Sitting more than an inch higher than the regular Octavia Estate, the Scout is fitted with some underbody armour and added protection around the wheel arches as well as modified aprons front and back to help with ground clearance.
As such the Scout looks every inch the sort of vehicle that's needed for life in the big outdoors.
It's powered by the most powerful diesel engine that's available in the Octavia range - a 2.0-litre developing 184ps - and the Scout makes full use of a six-speed semi-automatic DSG transmission.
That results in above average performance for a car with heavy duty pretensions with a 0 to 60 acceleration of 7.8 seconds and a top speed of 136mph.
But the real benefit comes with the fuel economy which is rated at 56.5mpg with emissions of 129g/km - a significant advantage over the sort of figures you expect from an SUV.
Real world driving saw the Scout return an average of 48 to the gallon which is very acceptable for such a large vehicle which also has a 1.8-tonne towing capacity.
Despite its rugged image the Scout is suave and sophisticated and even with a pumped up ride height it is nicely compliant on the road.
Inside, it is decked out in executive fashion with alcantara and leather upholstery - complete with embossed Scout logos - darkened rear windows and the amount of room front and back is well above the norm for cars of this ilk.
Going large has become a Skoda trait which is not confined to the cabin and luggage space on the Scout is equally generous ranging from 590 litres with all seats in use to 1,580 with the rear ones folded.
The Scout is priced from Â£28,495 - cheaper than similar alternatives within the VW stable such as the Passat Alltrack and the Audi A4 Allroad - and comes with sat nav, 17-inch alloys and lane departure warning systems as standard.
The model we tried also featured an advanced connectivity system which included Wi-Fi and a full colour trip computer display which added £1,050 to the price.
Another extra was a winter pack which added heated windscreen washer nozzles as well as heated front seats and a heated windscreen.
That cost another Â£600 but even so the Scout is right on the money as a well-equipped action vehicle which can fit the bill for many a family's everyday needs - and can handle conditions when the going gets tough.