Chase the great outdoors in a wagon that has all the style and kudos of the prestige SUVs and your choices may be limited. This year, basking in the sunlight shown on the go-anywhere Inspector Gadget-type wagons, Subaru launched its impressive Outback and had no rival.

Until this week.

The Skoda Octavia Scout 4x4 is the second generation model that rekindles a Euro-centric wagon that despite its city-bred ideals, is surprisingly capable when things get really dirty.

Heavily reflective of the Octavia wagon, the Scout sits 31mm higher, has plenty of charcoal plastic side panels and wheel arches, a new grille and all the macho signs of a car built for the great Oz outdoors.


Skoda Octavia Scout 4x4. Picture:

New for 2015 is more equipment, better off-road ability, a higher level of safety, minimal price changes and a new lease program that allows private buyers a guaranteed buy-back price and a flexible lease scheme with options.

The Scout has always been a niche market product but Skoda’s realignment of it may refocus potential buyers. At $32,990, the entry level manual diesel 110TDI is $7000 cheaper than its predecessor despite being more powerful, safer and better equipped.

The 110kW/320Nm 110TDI turbo-diesel gets a rear camera, six-speed manual transmission (no auto here), comprehensive safety equipment and its clever all-wheel drive system.

Move up to the 132TSI petrol and there’s only a dual-clutch automatic gearbox (no manual), a 132kW/280Nm 1.8-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine, leather and Alcantara upholstery, electric tailgate, driver fatigue detection and sat-nav with an 8-inch touch screen. The 132TSI is the first time Skoda has offered a petrol engine in the Scout, with its max torque available from a low 350rpm.

The more powerful diesel option is the 135kW/380Nm 135TDI that picks up all the features of the 132TSI.

Compared with its previous diesel, it has 31 per cent more power, 19 per cent more torque and at 5.3L/100km is 13 per cent more fuel efficient. It’s priced from $41,390. A new rear differential component increases available luggage space —impressive at 588 litres and rising to 1781 litres with the split-fold rear seats down.

Though less attention is put to the cabin features these will still impress owners and make life a bit easier for the more practical. For example, there are two cabin lights and a 12-volt outlet in the boot. There are also shopping hooks, a reversible boot mat, a boot opening with square dimensions for big luggage items (the boot lid is electric in the 132TSI and 135TDI versions) and big storage bins.


Skoda Octavia Scout Interior. Picture:


DRIVING: The Scout, like the Outback and Volkswagen Passat Alltrack, blurs the line between wagon and an SUV.

Seat height is above a conventional wagon and below an SUV; road-holding is as adept as a passenger car-based wagon with less body roll than a taller SUV; fuel consumption and ride comfort are both midway between the two.

On sweeping roads, the 135TDI is poised, flat through the corners and gripping hard despite its 50-profile tyres.

The kick in the pants from low engine revs is one of its assets, making it a brisk wagon away from the lights and fast when overtaking.

The engine is almost leisurely in its delivery, with the bonus being a reasonable 8.7L/100km on the launch drive.

At idle it’s obviously a diesel, though the engine clatter is muted and it has stop/start.

The 132TSI turbo-petrol is marginally more responsive and only hampered on rare occasions by some engine lag.

Ride comfort is impressive with comfortable seats and a compliant suspension.

It’s a simple, well-equipped and capable tourer. It can ford sandy trails and ascend gravel rises but its 171mm ground clearance will limit access to many beaches and make it difficult to tackle obstacles.



Model 110TDI

Price $32,990

Engine 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo-diesel

Outputs 110kW/320Nm

Transmission Six-speed manual

Thirst 4.9L/100km

Model 132TSI

Price $38,590

Engine 1.8-litre 4-cylinder turbo-petrol

Outputs 132kW/250Nm

Transmission Six-speed automatic

Thirst 6.1L/100km

Model 135TDI

Price $41,390

Engine 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo-diesel

Outputs 135kW/380Nm

Transmission Six-speed automatic

Thirst 5.8L/100km

More fruit, equipment, zip and attractive pricing make this Octavia worth considering.


© The West Australian