FIRST of all, don't get carried away with the glamour and glitz of this Skoda's model name.
The Scala Monte Carlo isn't a mid-engined supercar, it's not even a rakish convertible. But it is a well equipped, decent driving, roomy five door that matches or betters most competitors in its class.
The Scala replaced the under-whelming Skoda Rapid and presents itself as an alternative to its blood brother the Golf, or Focus and Astra. With more cabin space than the Golf, despite being built on the current Polo platform, it holds strong attraction to family buyers looking for good value.
In Monte Carlo guise, it gets a clever paint job with black tailgate, panoramic roof, sports seats and LED headlights. There's a choice of two petrol engines - a 1.0-litre turbo three cylinder, and a 1.5-litre four cylinder that pushes out a healthy 148bhp, which is the version we sampled.
While there's no attempt to label it as a hot - or even warm - hatchback, the Monte Carlo with the larger engine, certainly goes well, despatching the 0 to 62mph dash in a sprightly 8.2seconds.
It's also a tidy handler. Light, positive steering guides the well balanced five-door smartly around bends with strong grip and modest body roll. From a family hold-all it easily transforms itself into a comfortably but speedy express.
Many buyers will be attracted by its spacious cabin. Even the tallest of drivers will find sufficient legroom behind the steering wheel and those in the rear don't suffer either. The long wheelbase ensures there ample space all round, although the body is narrower than some rivals, adding a certain cosiness for those in the front seats.
Luggage room is similarly above par. Back seats flip down in usual 60-40 fashion expanding capacity from 467 litres to a generous 1,410 litres. There are also plenty of bins, cubbies and places to absorb family clutter.
The facia is practical enough but lacks the classy feel of either Kia or Golf. A central digital screen displays most of the important information and performs a variety of functions. It's clear to read and works well.
The sat nav works efficiently and is easier to operate than the more pricey Golf. The buttons are, however, touch sensitive which make them tricky to operate on the move.
Skoda takes pride in thinking of everything the driver and passengers might need and its ‘simply clever' mission statement. Things like a hidden umbrella in the front door, a ticket holder on the windscreen and an ice-scraper inside fuel filler flap. All good stuff.
Obviously the smaller 1.0-litre engine is the one to go for if economy is your chief priority but we found the eager 1.5-litre to be pleasantly frugal. Over 500 miles it returned 44mpg in our hands with a best of 54mpg over a restrained country trip.