Skoda Scala hatchback review
“The Skoda Scala is more practical and less expensive than the similarly sized Volkswagen Golf”
- Keenly priced
- No diesel option
- Rivals better to drive
- Average warranty
Verdict - Is the Skoda Scala a good car?
In a market increasingly obsessed with SUVs and electrification, it would be easy to overlook the Skoda Scala. It is, after all, little more than a five-door hatchback powered by a range of petrol engines (the diesel version was axed in 2020). But the Scala adds up to far more than the sum of its parts. For a start, it’s one of the most practical cars in its class, with a huge boot and space for five adults. It’s also comfortable, quiet and much better value than the Volkswagen Golf. It’s not exciting or remotely fun to drive, but if you’re after a winning combination of space, practicality and low running costs, the Scala is hard to beat.
Skoda Scala models, specs and alternatives
The Skoda Scala arrived in 2019 as a replacement for the forgettable Rapid. Skoda calls it a city car, but in reality it’s a small hatchback, sitting between the Fabia supermini and Octavia in the Czech company’s family car range. Don’t let the ‘small’ tag fool you, though, because the Scala offers the space and practicality of a Volkswagen Golf for the price of a Polo. It’s a welcome alternative to the glut of SUVs we’ve seen in recent years.
Few, if any, other car companies sell so many different hatchbacks, but Skoda has realised that some customers find the VW Golf-based Octavia too large, and that it’s not as easy to park as the Golf, which is where the Scala fits in. It’s made more attractive because of a lower price and similar specifications to some of its more expensive rivals. Prices start from around £20,000 for a 1.0 TSI SE, while even the sporty Monte Carlo trim with a 1.5 TSI engine and DSG transmission costs around £28,000. Few new cars offer better value for money.
The Scala doesn’t use the Golf’s platform; instead, it sits on a stretched version of the underpinnings of the less expensive Polo and Fabia, which helps keep the price down. The Scala is a tad longer than the Golf, but offers a much bigger boot – at 467 litres, it’s almost 90 litres larger with the seats up, or 140 litres larger with them folded down.
Skoda has given the Scala much bolder styling than the Rapid. The front end features a wide grille and pointy headlights – which are LED units even on the entry-level model – and, in the side profile, there’s a nice chrome kink that follows the windowline. At the rear, the tail-lights spread across the width of the tailgate, and the top half can be a full glass panel if you wish.
Despite the competitive pricing, no Scala is sparsely equipped. The range kicks off with the discontinued S trim, which featured all-round electric windows, air conditioning, a 6.5-inch infotainment screen with DAB radio and Bluetooth, 16-inch alloy wheels and LED headlights. Step up to SE, which is now the entry-level model, and Skoda adds cruise control, rear parking sensors and a larger eight-inch screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.
SE L adds a few extra luxuries like larger alloys, tinted rear windows, digital dials and full LED tail lights. A sporty-looking Monte Carlo trim now sits at the top of the range, with black exterior trim, red interior detailing, the odd bit of leather upholstery and a panoramic glass sunroof. There are no performance upgrades, but it certainly looks the part.
The engine range is familiar from other VW Group cars. Three petrols are available, starting with an entry-level 94bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine. Above that, there’s a 108bhp version of the 1.0-litre and a punchier 1.5-litre engine with 148bhp. In late 2020, the diesel version of the Scala was discontinued.
As you might expect given the lower price, the Scala’s interior isn’t as plush as the VW Golf’s but it makes up for that by offering plenty of space for four six-footers. Plus, Skoda has added to the appeal of the Scala with all the thoughtful touches of the Octavia – there’s an ice-scraper with an integrated tyre gauge stowed away in the fuel filler cap, a parking ticket holder on the windscreen, and an umbrella in the doors (on higher-spec models), while the screenwash reservoir has a built-in funnel so you don’t slosh fluid all over the engine bay.
Skoda Scala alternatives
The Scala goes up against a broad range of rivals, including the Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra and the SEAT Leon. Its price means that it’s also an alternative to the Hyundai i30, Kia Ceed, Toyota Corolla and Mazda3, plus smaller models like the Volkswagen Polo and SEAT Ibiza.
Skoda Scala facelift due for 2024
The Skoda Scala is getting a mid-life update bringing a mildly restyled exterior and a tech boost.
Skoda is giving its Scala model a facelift to bring it a little more up-to-date and competitive thanks to a moderate restyle and improved tech over the outgoing model.
The latest Scala’s design will be tweaked with new bumpers front and rear, plus revised, slimmer headlights. The grille is also redesigned to look more like the Vision RS concept car from 2018.
Matrix LED headlights will be available as an option, as well as an alternative rear hatchback with glass reaching down to the rear lights. New alloy wheel options will also be available to choose, ranging in size from 16 inches to 18 inches.
The inside of the Scala will get more widespread use of recycled and sustainable materials, and colour and trim options will be grouped into ‘Design Selections’ similar to those seen on the Enyaq EV.
There will be plenty of tech on the updated Scala. This includes an eight-inch digital gauge cluster which can be upgraded to a larger 10.25-inch setup. An 8.25-inch infotainment screen also sits in the centre of the dash as standard, and can also be upgraded to a 9.2-inch touchscreen with a navigation package with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Other useful touches include an optional five USB-C charging ports, one of which is located in the rear-view mirror, allowing for a more convenient place to connect a dashcam. Scalas optioned with the powered tailgate also now get a convenient feature allowing you to open the boot with your foot if you’ve got your hands full.
Engine options will include a 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine with 94bhp and a five-speed manual transmission, a 114bhp version of the same engine with a six-speed manual gearbox or seven-speed automatic, with a range-topping 1.5-litre version getting 148bhp and either the six-speed manual or seven-speed auto gearbox. Notably, the Scala will not be offered with any form of hybrid or electric powertrains, with the budget-friendly brand eager to continue offering the car at a lower price point.
The new Scala is expected to be sold in SE, SE L and Monte Carlo versions, although this has yet to be confirmed along with pricing. Given Skoda’s focus on value and the relatively minor updates to the model, we’d expect prices to start from around £21,500 – not too far off the outgoing model’s cost.
Which Is Best?
- Name1.0 TSI S 5dr
- Gearbox typeManual
- Name1.0 TSI S 5dr
- Gearbox typeManual
- Name1.5 TSI SE Technology 5dr
- Gearbox typeManual