Last month I mentioned the Scala had a few bugs in its infotainment system, leading it to misbehave most times I plugged in my Android smartphone. This wasn’t ideal – after all, with no built-in navigation system, I was relying on Android Auto and Google Maps on most trips for directions, traffic information and music. Luckily, Skoda were already aware of the issue that only affected ‘early build’ Scala’s and had a fix.
I booked the car in at Barlow Motors in Crewe, and a few hours after arriving, the on-board software was updated, the Scala had been given a wash and I was on my way. I’m happy to report there have been no glitches since, but anecdotally I reckon this sort of ‘fault’ is becoming more common for new car owners. A similar issue affected my parent’s ’69’-plate Hyundai, and skimming through the latest owner satisfaction surveys, the majority of issues customers report fall into the ‘electrical’ category. Hopefully Tesla-style over-the-air updates will mean future models with software gremlins can be ‘fixed’ unobtrusively while the owner is tucked up in bed.
In every other way, living with the Scala has been as pain-free as you’d expect. Its 1.6-litre TDI engine is hardly a powerhouse, but it does feel a bit keener to deliver its 114bhp now it’s covered over 5,000 miles. I just wish it was quieter, because not only is it rather vocal, but it also produces a resonance at low revs that often makes you wonder why the dashboard indicator suggested shifting up. This long gearing does, however, help with fuel efficiency and the Scala is still proving frugal, even if less motorway miles and winter weather have seen its economy figure drop a bit lately to just over 50mpg.
Comfort is one of the most impressive aspects of the Scala. Its suspension has quite a soft setup, and particularly with the 16-inch alloy wheels fitted, the ride is very forgiving. After a pothole burst a low-profile tyre fitted to the Mazda6 Tourer I ran previously, it’s one less thing to worry about. Meanwhile, the steering is somewhat light, but plenty accurate enough and a feel of lightness actually permeates the whole car. There’s little sensation of inertia, even on the winding roads of Devon during our summer break, and you only have to hover your foot over the brake pedal to scrub off speed.
Another aspect of the Scala that’s a little overly sensitive is its driver aids, particularly the lane keeping assist. Unlike every car I’ve driven before, this switches back on each time you start the car, and the strength of steering correction can be a surprise the first time it deems you’re heading out of a lane. Around town it can be switched off using buttons on the steering wheel, and on the motorway it’s more reassuring and I was happier leaving it active. Crash-test experts Euro NCAP clearly approved, decreeing the Scala as one of the safest cars on sale, and awarding it five stars.
This family hatchback is super practical too, and not just because it has a massive 467-litre boot and enough rear legroom for the tallest of adults. There are other things you only notice later on, like a very powerful demister. Nothing beats a heated windscreen in winter, but the Scala seems to have a knack of generating some warmth from its windscreen vents in almost no time at all, blasting away condensation with ease. The side windows can be tackled with the supplied ‘Simply Clever’ ice scraper, housed in a slot in the fuel-filler door, and once they’re free of ice, simply putting them up and down does a good job of clearing any additional moisture away. Things like this remind me of my old MkV Golf, which was full of neatly engineered solutions to common problems – like carrying a curry home from the takeaway. The Scala might be a brand-new name, but this family-friendly hatchback benefits from all of Skoda’s far reaching know-how.
Date arrived 21st August 2018
Fuel economy 53.3-57.7mpg (WLTP combined) 51.5mpg (on test)
All the thoughtful touches that make living with the Scala easy.
The lane keeping assist always turns on and feels intrusive around town.