Scala undercuts rivals on price and ushers in a sharp new design language for Skoda, but success will hinge on it exhibiting the brand’s traditional core values
This is the big play from Skoda, because the new Scala is a Focus-sized, Golf-shaped family hatchback that slots slap-bang into the two-box mould of Europe’s most popular segment.Of course, Skoda has been here before – that is, offering a C-segment model to bridge the gap between Fabia supermini and Octavia – and the result was the Rapid. The problem with the Rapid was it looked achingly bland, and rather than borrowing VW Group’s MQB platform, its underpinnings were shared with the Fabia, with the same a basic torsion beam rear axle.The Scala now gets the MQB basis you’d expect it to, though because Skoda equips only its more powerful models with expensive multi-link rear suspension, there’s still a torsion beam at the back. It’s a MacPherson strut setup at the front, and while we’re at it, Skoda is building only five-door bodies for the Scala and, for now, they’ll all be front-driven.But this car is also meant to represent a new high-water mark for Skoda’s design language, which is why it gets scrolling rear indicators (on top-spec SE L trim), LED head- and tail lights (fully, but again only if you pay more for SE L), and a Porsche-style ‘SKODA’ written across its boot-lid. In fact, in the tightly defined world of mass-produced cars, the Scala is impressively faithful to the Vision RS concept, so credit is due for that.The engine line-up comprises a selection of VW Group’s transversely mounted TDI and TSI units, all of either three or four cylinders. A 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol is available with 94bhp or 113bhp, while the four-cylinder 1.5-litre TSI driven here tops the range with 148bhp. The only diesel is a 1.6-litre with 114bhp, and depending on which engine you choose, Skoda is offering either five- or six-speed manual gearboxes or a seven-speed dual-clutcher. A 1.0-litre 89bhp version powered by natural gas is due at the end of 2019, though whether or not it will be offered in the UK is unknown.