By Patrick James on 2020-07-12 - The author has been a motoring writer for more than 16 years. Formerly motoring editor at the Coventry Telegraph, he now produces motoring copy, on new car launches and road tests on a freelance basis.
Skoda Scala SE L 1.5
IS that a Golf? someone said as they looked at the Skoda parked on the road.
You can see why he made the mistake, there is definitely a Golf look to the latest of Skoda's ever-expanding range of vehicles.
The Scala hatchback model is positioned between Fabia and similar-sized Octavia and is the first to be built on the parent group Volkswagen's modular MQB-A0 platform.
In typical Skoda fashion, it also adds those quirky, but extremely useful little extras, started years ago with the concealed umbrella. Now what the firm calls Simply Clever touches add an electric tailgate that includes a Tip-To-Close function and an electrically retractable towbar.
Both optional features features are new to the segment, while the familiar ice scraper with a tyre tread depth gauge, along with neat integrated funnel in the lid of the windscreen washer tank remain, as does the umbrella.
Neat touches, but in this segment the car needs to be better than just good.
It comes with a host of kit in three trim grades; S, SE and SE L, while threeengine options, two petrol and one diesel, with outputs from 95ps to 150ps are available with DSG gearbox options.
It does look good, without being a showstopper, with narrow, tapered headlights flanking the dominant grille, which has a large airscoop below housing the driving lights. The 17-inch ‘stratos' alloys also add a nice finishing touch.
The interior too is high quality with soft touch finish and microsuede black upholstery complemented by chrome detailing to handles, gearshift, handbrake, dash and door panelling.
The centrepiece is the 9.2-inch multi function screen which controls navigation and connectivity via Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink and the eight-speaker sound system.
The customisable digital virtual cockpit is also available on this model and other controls are logical and well placed with many mirrored on the multi-function steering whee.
The wide glass area gives the car a roomy feel and there is plenty of head and legroom.
Stowage space is good with a large boot, which offers 467 litres of space, opening up to 1,410 litres with the split seats folded. There are also storage compartments under the front seats and a cooled glovebox.
Starting at £18,585, standard kit includes 16-inch alloys, LED headlights, smartphone connectivity touch screen, and a raft of safety features which include parking sensors, emergency braking and lane departure assist.
This SE L model ups the ante with the virtual cockpit, powered door mirrors, rain sensing wipers, privacy glass and much more.
On the road, the car is a lively performer with the 150ps 1.5-litre petrol engine mated to a six-speed gearbox delivering pace and decent economy.
The car hits 60mph in a smidge over eight seconds, warm hatch pace, while delivering fuel economy of between 42 and 48mpg.
It is a refined unit with plenty of torque so overtaking on the motorway is a breeze. Handling is precise and the ride is slightly firm and can sometimes feel unsettled on lesser road surfaces. But it handles well with the 17-inch tyres offering plenty of grip on bends and corners.
An optional Sport Chassis Control system makes its debut with suspension lowered by 15mm along with valve-reversible shock absorbers that can alter the damping characteristics to provide a sportier driving experience.
To be compared to the Golf is praise indeed with the Czech-based manufacturers now offering an ever-increasing portfolio of quality vehicles. No longer bargain basement, but still very competitively priced.
Skoda Scala SE L 1.5 TSI
Mechanical: 150ps, 1,498cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels wheels via six-speed manual gearbox
Max Speed: 137mph
0-62mph: 8.2 seconds
Combined MPG: 42.2 to 47.9
Insurance Group: 21
C02 emissions: 111g/km
Bik rating: 26%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
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