Mark Drives the ŠKODA Octavia Scout
Opinion piece: Marketing Manager Mark Lincoln took the Octavia Scout on a family trip to Mt Lyford. All photos by Mark.
We’ve all considered the question ‘If I could only have one car for the rest of my life, what would it be…’ I used to answer this with some form of 4WD SUV. After all, who would want to invest their money in a mode of transport that could one day somehow get ‘stuck’ and not be able to complete the task put in front of it?
But having now driven a lot of new vehicles, I’ve decided a large SUV is a tad too much for my needs. I don’t tow heavy trailers/boats/horse floats regularly and as I’m mostly driving backwards and forwards between Christchurch central and Rangiora with just myself in the car, I don’t have much call for a large vehicle.
Ultimately, despite New Zealand’s trend swingly enthusiastically towards SUVs, for me the car-to-end-all-cars would have to be a wagon. Wagons are hugely practical – with many having more space than regular SUVs – while also remaining low to the ground and therefore offering handling and driving pleasure similar to a sedan or hatch. You often get more features for your money and they’re suitable for families while not looking too carried away for a single passenger on their daily commute.
Having settled on a wagon, the next question would be which variant? Wagons typically come as either ‘regular’, ‘sport’ or ‘offroad’. I’ve been trying to avoid saying ‘I’ve been lucky enough to…’ as by now you all know I’m a jammy git and I don’t need to keep repeating that, but I really have been in quite an unrivaled position recently whereby I’ve had the chance to spend a lot of time with both the sport and offroad options within ŠKODA’s range. Namely, the Octavia RS (I really need to write a blog post for this) and the Octavia Scout.
So: ‘sport’ or ‘offroad’ wagon?
The Octavia RS is an incredible machine and was an absolute delight to drive. But… I recently went on a family holiday to Mt Lyford following the biggest dump of snow that I’ve ever experienced, and I happened to be in the Scout at the time. As I was churning through the snow, ploughing a path for the Subaru Outback and Holden Colorado that followed behind (the Colorado genuinely tried to pass, slipped, then fell back into the safety of the tracks that I was creating) it occurred to me that there was no way I would have taken the RS on the same trip. If nothing else, it just wouldn’t have been able to take the snow chains that I’d hired at the last minute.
The Scout saw my family safely up the hill despite the challenges thrown at it. As I was closing the curtains of our wood cabin, looking through the window into a dark and chilly forest blanketed in snow, I peered through the gloom and tapped the unlock button on the Scout’s remote. Out in the darkness, the Scout lit up like a Christmas tree, with LED lights projecting ahead and to the rear with the puddle lights under the wing mirrors illuminating the sides. Sorry to be all nostalgic but it took me back to walking through the Welsh mountains and getting lost, with horrendous weather coming in and the sun going down, finally returning to the car – the last one in the car park – at night and feeling so happy to be safe again.
So, as hard as it is for me to say this given the incredible driving experience I had in the Octavia RS, I’d have to take the Scout. But then I’m saying that as someone who can jump in an RS from time to time to satisfy the urge!
What’s this then? A Holden?
Just as an aside, I have to address this. On my trip to Lyford, just as the snow storm was coming in, I stopped at a hire place to pick up some snow chains as backup.
Two older Kiwi blokes at the hire place walked out to check out the Scout to double check the wheel sizes. As they approached the car, they said “What’s this, then? A Holden?” Slightly in disbelief I said, “A Holden? No, it’s a Scout.” Their response: “Is that ŠKODA? Oh you won’t need chains then, mate. It’ll break down before you get there.”
Amazing. If you’re reading this and have got this far way through the article, then you’re probably not the ones that need to hear this so I won’t go on too much. But if you still think ŠKODA is a vehicle brand that ‘breaks down all the time’ then I’m not surprised you also instinctively think any wagon you see is a Holden. Come on. It’s 2019, mate.
Anyway… back to the car!
Specs and pricing?
The Scout has three engine options that vary slightly to the regular Octavia line-up, plus you get ŠKODA’s advanced 4WD system across the Scout range. All three engines are 2L capacity. The petrol (TSI) engine provides 140kW power and 320Nm torque, with two diesel TDI engine options; the 110kW/340Nm and the 135kW/380Nm.
Price doesn’t vary wildly at all across all three – from $49,990 to $52,990 – entirely based on your engine choice. With all of the features the same, it comes down to whether you like petrol or diesel, and then – if diesel is your choice – whether you’re up for spending the extra $3,000 for another 15kW of power and an extra 40Nm of torque. That extra grunt translates to 7.7s to 100kph versus 9.4, and a 215kph top speed versus 200kph. Both diesel engines will tow 2,000kg (braked) while the petrol is rated to 1,700kg.
- Alcantara ‘Scout’ Leather Interior
- Adaptive Cruise Control, Front Emergency Braking
- 8″ Touchscreen, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
- Electronic Tailgate
- Lane Assist & Blind Spot
- Auto Lights & Wipers
- Off-road Mode
- LED Headlights, Washers, Rear LED Lights
- Front Heated Seats & Steering Wheel (this is amazing!)
- LED Ambient Interior Lights (Customisable)
- 17″ Alloy Wheels
What stands out?
As cheesy as it may sound, it’s the complete package. As a wagon it already has heaps of space, but ŠKODA have always been amazing at one thing that really resonates with me – practical features. It’s like the Volkswagen Audi Group engineers built Audi vehicles for luxury, they built Volkswagens for a great balance of ‘premium’ and ‘affordable’, and then they built ŠKODA for themselves based on what benefits those who actually own and ‘live with’ a vehicle.
Features like an icescaper (which now doubles as a tyre gauge) behind the petrol flap, a cup holder insert that’s perfect for your phone, some coins and the key fob, a boot light that pops out to become a torch, reversible boot mats so you have ‘regular’ on one side and ‘adventure mode’ on the other (being a ridged-rubber format for wet dogs, muddy boots and bikes – this is a $150 option I believe, but it’s a good one), a rear washer to clean your reversing camera, and endless bag hooks and storage options.
It’s these features the embody the ŠKODA ‘Simply Clever’ mantra. Perhaps the reason that ŠKODA vehicles once came first, second AND third in a survey of ‘most satisfied vehicle owners’ in the UK.
They’re also stylish without a shred of arrogance, looking just at home outside a fancy office, the family driveway, or the farmyard. Then there’s the fact that ŠKODA buyers are typically those who have done more research than the next guy when it comes to choosing a new car. It’s easy to choose a mainstream brand, but if you actually do the research and read the reviews (and if you get a chance to, speak to a motoring journalist) you’ll end up with a ŠKODA at the top of your shortlist.
It’s the reason our sales guys aren’t afraid to tell a customer to compare with the competitors if they’re unsure.
Find out more about the ŠKODA Octavia range, or get in touch with the team to arrange a test drive.
Please note that imagery and specifications may be of overseas vehicles and include optional extras.