By Mike Torpey on 2020-02-08 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Skoda Scala 1.0 TSI
THE past few months have been on the busy side for the value for money gem in Volkswagen's crown, Skoda.
Wedged between the arrival of the fiery Kodiaq vRS SUV model and compact crossover Kamiq comes a car with an altogether more conventional name, the Scala.
So perhaps it was apt, if also completely coincidental, that our first journey in this mid-size hatchback was a trip to the cinema.
Skoda has enjoyed considerable success with most of its models over the past decade or so, though one of them - the Rapid - didn't fare quite so well as its stablemates, and is no more.
Nonetheless, the Czech brand is at pains to make clear that the Scala is not a replacement for that model.
What's also clear is that the newcomer, which is positioned between the Fabia supermini and Octavia family model, looks destined for an altogether more profitable existence.
Keeping things simple has become a feature of the way Skoda operates these days and to that end the Scala has just three engine options with outputs from 95ps to 150ps plus DSG options, and comes in a trio of trim grades - S, SE and SE L.
And with prices starting from Â£15,760 for a car that's well specced up even from entry level S grade, value for money is pretty much guaranteed.
That's for a car that certainly looks the part. It was inspired by the Vision RS concept with its narrow headlights and upright radiator grille, and is the first of the company's production models in Europe to bear the name of Skoda, rather than just the brand's logo, on its tailgate.
Inside, a few brittle plastics apart, the Scala combines a bright, pleasant interior with plenty of space, a host of storage compartment and one of the largest boots in its area of the market.
Its standard capacity of 467 litres expands to 1,410 litres with the split back seats folded down while an extended wheelbase ensures a wealth of rear legroom.
Taking centre stage in a tidy, uncluttered dash area is a free-standing 8.0-inch display screen which is positioned high up and in clear view of the driver.
It looks crystal clear and takes care of all the connectivity and sounds requirements. Go for top spec SE-L grade and you get the full Monty of a 10.25-inch Virtual cockpit with Amundsen info system, which is also optional on Scala SE variants.
And as Skoda drivers have come to expect, there's no shortage of Simply Clever features around the car - like an electric tailgate that includes a tip-to-close function and an electrically retractable towbar.
There's also an ice scraper with tyre tread gauge along with an integrated funnel in the lid of the windscreen washer tank, ticket holder on the driver's side windscreen pillar and umbrella in the driver's door.
Out on the road this Scala may have been powered only by a 999cc petrol engine but there was no shortage of punch from the three-cylinder unit, which was also rewardingly frugal.
Our average return over 250 miles was just over 48 miles per gallon compared to the official Combined figure of 56.5mpg.
: 3yrs/60,000 miles
Skoda Scala 1.0 TSI SE
Mechanical: 115PS, 999cc, 3-cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox
Max Speed: 125mph
0-62mph: 9.8 seconds
Combined MPG: 56.5
Insurance Group: 113g/km
C02 emissions: 26%
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