In-depth reviews

Skoda Scala hatchback - Engines, drive & performance

Not particularly exciting, but the Scala is reasonably good to drive

Carbuyer Rating

4.3 out of 5

Engines, drive & performance Rating

3.5 out of 5

If you have a real passion for driving, the Skoda Scala’s driving experience and performance may not excite you. You might want to overlook it for a car with more precise handling, such as the Ford Focus, SEAT Leon or Honda Civic. However, that shouldn’t mean the Scala should be dismissed entirely; we expect that most people will enjoy its composed drive and its accurate steering, despite a relative lack of feel.

The six-speed manual gearbox is pleasant to use, with slick changes and a short-ish action. You won’t find it an effort or a chore to change gear, but a seven-speed dual-clutch DSG automatic gearbox is also available for extra cost. We didn’t find it to be as impressive as the same gearbox in the Volkswagen Golf, perhaps suggesting it has been configured differently. It's perfectly fine on the move but suffers the usual DSG trait of being slightly jerky at low speeds. Unless you need an automatic, we’d recommend sticking with the manual gearbox.

While the Scala won’t necessarily provide excitement, everything works as it should and the driving experience feels mature and secure. It’s certainly not the worst-driving hatchback, by any stretch of the imagination, and will be fine for most buyers.

Skoda Scala petrol engines

Two petrol engines are available for the Scala and the smaller one is expected to account for the majority of sales. The entry-level three-cylinder 1.0-litre turbocharged engine produces 94bhp and a more powerful version produces 108bhp. There’s also a 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine with 148bhp that manages 0-62mph in 8.2 seconds, while the 108bhp version of the 1.0-litre manages the sprint in a reasonable 10.1 seconds when equipped with a six-speed manual gearbox. This is our favourite Scala engine for now, feeling plenty quick enough in the middle of the rev range.

The 94bhp entry-level turbocharged 1.0-litre engine is the only unit available with a five-speed manual gearbox. With only 94bhp, it records the slowest 0-62mph time of the range taking 11 seconds. All other petrol engines come with a six-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox.

With 148bhp, the range-topper is certainly fast enough, pulling well from very low down in the rev range, yet also remaining smooth if it's exercised more vigorously. It's also virtually impossible to tell when the cylinder deactivation is functioning because the transition is seamless.

Diesel engines

At launch, the Scala was available with a 1.6-litre diesel engine producing 113bhp. It offered reasonable acceleration, although sounded a little gruff as it was doing so, and was at its best on the motorway. This engine was discontinued in late 2020.

Hybrid engines

No hybrid model is available from launch, but Skoda is aiming to electrify most of its line-up in the next few years. We’ve heard that a faster vRS model is in the pipeline, and this is highly likely to use a petrol engine and an electric motor - boosting both performance and efficiency.

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

Recommended

Top 10 best new cars under £20,000
Renault Clio front corner
Best cars
3 Jun 2022

Top 10 best new cars under £20,000

Most Popular

Best new car deals 2022: this week’s top car offers
Facelifted Volvo XC60 driving - front
Deals
1 Jul 2022

Best new car deals 2022: this week’s top car offers

Engine management light: top 5 causes of amber engine warning light
Engine management light: top 5 causes of amber engine warning light
Car technology
22 Jun 2022

Engine management light: top 5 causes of amber engine warning light

Top 10 cheapest electric cars 2022
2021 Citroen Ami
Best cars
16 Jun 2022

Top 10 cheapest electric cars 2022

Tips & advice

View All
Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide
Car dashboard symbols and meanings
Tips and advice
23 Mar 2022

Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide
Electric car charging station
Tips and advice
5 Nov 2021

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?
PCP vs HP
Car buying
17 May 2022

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?

Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Tips and advice
20 Jun 2022

Average speed cameras: how do they work?

Best cars

View All
Top 10 best car interiors 2022
Peugeot 208 hatchback
Best cars
25 Jun 2021

Top 10 best car interiors 2022

Top 10 best electric cars 2022
Ioniq 5
Best cars
25 Apr 2022

Top 10 best electric cars 2022

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2022
Nissan Leaf front
Best cars
3 May 2022

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2022

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks 2022
Audi RS 3 driving - front view
Hot hatches
24 Jun 2022

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks 2022