THIS is the latest offering from Czech manufacturer Skoda.It's called the Scala and it arrived in the UK in July.
I have just spent a few days with the newcomer and it is a very nice package with crisp styling, lots of technology as well as being versatile and practical.
A five-door hatchback it slots between the Fabia and Octavia in the company's line-up and will fill the gap created by dropping the Rapid.
The Scala is wider and longer than the Rapid and there are three trims to choose from called S, SE and SE-L with prices ranging from £16,595 to £23,315.
You can select from a choice of engines.Petrol power is provided by a 1.0-litre TSI three-cylinder unit with 95ps or 115ps and a four-cylinder 1.5 TSI unit with 150ps. The only diesel unit is a 1.6-litre TDI engine producing 115ps.
The Scala is certainly a good-looking car with modern styling.It has a striking upright radiator grille, narrow, tapered LED headlights, sweeping rear indicators on the higher trim, full LED tail lights, a choice of 16 to 18-inch alloy wheels and boldly displays the Skoda name on its rump.
The spacious cabin is typical of the VW group - clutter-free - and features a large free standing display screen where all the infotainment systems are accessed using the touch or gesture control or via the enhanced voice control.
The Scala is fitted with a built-in eSIM as standard and that means it is always able to provide the latest traffic reports etc. A Virtual Cockpit is standard on the SE-L model, optional on the SE and offers the driver a choice of five different displays.
There are lots of other clever features like the ice scraper in the fuel filler flap, an umbrella in the driver's door, a ticket holder on the windscreen and a smart panoramic roof that does not impact on headroom.
The cabin is really spacious and there is room for four adults to travel in comfort and five for shorter journeys, while the generously-sized boot can swallow 467 litres of luggage and that increases to 1,410 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats folded flat.
I drove the SE model powered by the lively 1.0-litre 115ps engine mated to a six-speed manual gearbox which costs £18,585.
It tackled the 0-62mph sprint in 9.8 seconds, is capable of up to 125mph and, according to official figures, should deliver 44.8-49.6mpg under the stricter WLTP ratings with carbon emissions of 113g/km.
Equipment was impressive with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, DAB radio, Bluetooth, an eight speaker sound system,the latest USB-C ports for faster charging,a classy touchscreen and options included park assist, a rearview camera, plus rain and light assist.
The Scala is great in town or out in the country and also cruises quietly and smoothly at motorway speeds. The suspension soaks up all but the worst bumps and the small engine is quiet and responsive. Steering is nice and accurate and the Scala always feels well planted.
All the controls, dials and readouts are perfectly positioned and the cabin feels as if it is built to last a long time with hard-wearing materials.
The Scala is packed with the latest safety features to protect occupants and pedestrians as well as a number of driver assist systems to help prevent accidents. There is lane assist and front assist with city emergency braking, hill hold control, a full suite of airbags, emergency call and proactive services as well as adaptive cruise control.