YES it is true, our friends at Škoda do tend to come up with some strange names for their vehicles, like the Fabia and Octavia, and you guessed it, the new Scala, the latest nameplate for the Czech brand, is no exception.
The Scala is the long awaited hatchback for the popular car maker, and sits between the Fabia and Octavia. It enters a battle ground loaded with competitors, including Hyundai’s i30, the Mazda3 and Toyota’s Corolla.
Visually, the Scala features Škoda’s latest design direction and we have to say it is a fresh look and feel, and we kind of dig it. Sure, their look may not be for everyone, they are almost like the modern day SAAB, in that they’re a tad quirky, but the Scala is a gem.
The Scala range is simple, but surprisingly fun. You’ll find just one four-cylinder 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine across four variants including our top-dog Launch Edition. It produces 110kW of power and 250Nm of torque.
That powerplant is paired with either a six-speed manual transmission or seven-speed dual-clutch auto. It is nice to see manufacturers still peddling the manual. Everything is auto these days.
The Scala is damn good on fuel too, seeing an average of 6.4-litres/100km, in real life testing. Škoda claims 5.5-litres/100km so it isn’t too far away at all. You shouldn’t expect rapid acceleration though.
Don’t get us wrong, it isn’t slow, and it is still energetic. It’s just missing the “fast” element, thanks to some pesky turbo lag. One thing we did get a kick out of was rowing through the gears using the paddle shifters (more on them later).
The rev matched throttle blips in Sport, thanks to the DSG transmission are pretty cool. Under load (aka giving it some stick) there was a bit of racket from the engine bay, but under normal conditions, it’s quiet and runs as smooth as silk.
The steering is light, maybe too light, well at least in Normal drive mode and feels a little lacking in feedback. It does deliver a real point and shoot kind of response though, which is a good outcome in the hit and miss game that is electric power steering.
Where the Launch Edition comes a little unstuck though is in the handling department. It has a slightly higher centre of gravity, rolling on 18-inch wheels, and does “boat” around a little when pushing through some tight corners.
It will still rip through a roundabout or connect some twisties together safely, but push it too hard, and you might find yourself spun (for the record, we didn’t actually achieve that).
Its sports oriented sibling, the Scala Monte Carlo features tuned suspension and a lowered stance for improved cornering, removing the “oat” from “boat”, with slightly less body roll than our Launch Edition tester.
Inside, you will be impressed with the cockpit, and the driver and front passenger are greeted with treats to look at. There some really nice, refined, soft touch surfaces, but they’re not all like that. Like most cars, it’s a mix of quality and convenience.
That said, the combination of leather and suede found on the seats is properly comfy and supportive. Even the stitched, leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel has a nice feel under hand.
As we mentioned before, it’s got paddle shifters. How could you not with a DSG. But here’s the problem. They’re plastic, and incredibly small. They need to be bigger and made from a nicer material.
The 10.25-inch driver’s instrument display (dubbed the virtual cockpit) is impressive and fully configurable (thanks Volkswagen for lending that one out), while the 9.2-inch touchscreen infotainment screen looks even larger.
There’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with wireless charging and an eight-speaker audio system that packs a punch for standard kit. Škoda has installed USB C charging through out the cabin, which is a great touch. The cabin is a nice place to be too.
There’s heaps of room in the door pockets; enough for larger water bottles and other odds and ends. Passenger space is also pretty decent, considering this is a smaller hatch.
Škoda has also ensured that they haven’t skimped on standard equipment, giving customers an electrically-operated tailgate, driver’s door umbrella (very Bentley-esque), a five-net storage system in the boot, and auto LED headlights and wipers.
An auto-dimming rear-view mirror, and heated/folding mirrors also feature. On the safety front, there’s seven airbags, autonomous emergency braking, lane-keep assist, lane departure warning, and driver fatigue detection.
You’ll also get multi-collision brake, front and rear parking sensors with reversing camera, auto park assist, rear manoeuvre braking assist, and a tyre pressure monitoring system. Pretty jamming with kit if you ask this author.
Škoda offers a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty across its entire range is great, and there’s the option of two different service packs as well (for three or five years). The Scala Launch Edition delivers European quality without the premium price point.
In a market flooded with competitors it’s well worth a look. The 2021 Škoda Scala Launch Edition is available in a great range of colours and is priced at $35,990 (drive away).
Our test vehicle was provided by Skoda Australia. To find out more about the 2021 Skoda Scala Launch Edition, contact your local Skoda dealer.