In-depth reviews

Skoda Scala hatchback review

“The Skoda Scala is more practical and less expensive than the similarly sized Volkswagen Golf”

Carbuyer Rating

4.3 out of 5

Price
£17,025 - £25,820

Pros

  • Practical
  • Well-equipped
  • Keenly priced

Cons

  • No diesel option
  • Rivals better to drive
  • Average warranty

The Skoda Scala is the Czech company’s replacement for the forgettable Skoda Rapid, slotting into the range between the Skoda Fabia supermini and the larger Skoda Octavia hatchback. With SUV sales booming, the Scala shows that Skoda still views the conventional family hatchback market section of the market as important.

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.

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.

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 S trim, which features 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 likely to be the most popular spec, and Skoda will add 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.

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 topped the Scala up 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.

Like Skoda’s other cars, it’s clear that the Scala has been meticulously thought out. It’s an affordable all-rounder that is likely to appeal, even in a highly competitive class. It's less sophisticated than the Octavia - owing to the cars’ different platforms and the Octavia’s nicer interior - so anyone weighing up both models could find the bigger car is worth the extra money.

Which Is Best?

Cheapest

  • Name
    1.0 TSI 95 S 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £17,025

Most Economical

  • Name
    1.0 TSI 95 S 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £17,025

Fastest

  • Name
    1.5 TSI SE 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £20,415

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