Scout’s honour

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By Nick Jones

This Skoda looks every bit a four-wheel-drive and reassuringly is, unlike some on the market.

Some manufacturer’s cars’ look like they can do off-road work but at the first sign of a slippy surface or muddy rock in the road, they don’t want to know.

So step up to the mark the Scout, from Skoda.

It’s an all-wheel-drive estate car, truth be told in the same way an Audi Allroad is, with chunky add-ons and a higher ride height which are specifically designed for work off as well as on road.

So yes, it has a better ground clearance than most cars, but the cheeky little factor for its great ability off-roading is the chunky rubber you can have on it.

This will really make a big difference as the Scout can trawl its way through anything with the right boots on, and then switch back to ‘normal’ tyres once the weather picks up. It has larger bumpers at both ends and protective strips on the side mouldings and on the wheel arches.

It has an aggressive sump guard too, and with 17in alloy wheels, the Scout certainly has the right attributes to appeal to road-users who want to look as they can go off-road in times of trouble.

It features as standard a permanent four-wheel-drive set up that means there are no levers or buttons to have to find. Instead, the clever Haldex system sends 100 per cent of the drive to the front wheels until traction – or lack of it – is detected, and then it starts to send grip to the rear until a balance is adopted.

Pick of the engine options for me is the 2.0-litre TDI diesel, stirring 140bhp, available low down in the revs for extra shove.

You can certainly hit 60mph in under ten seconds, and it has a top speed of just under 130mph. You can see the emissions have been well looked-after also, emitting just 129g/km and the bonus of achieving just over 40mpg in mixed driving.

You could opt for the 1.8TFSI petrol Scout, with 160 horses on tap, which is enough to see the other side 60mph in just over eight seconds, and a top speed just shy of 140mph.

It’s a good deal too on the inside, with loads of head and legroom, plus the estate configuration means you can carry 1,600 litres of baggage when the rear seats are folded. What’s more, the load bay is accessible and it doesn’t suffer from wheel arch intrusion either. Plus you get many anchor points and fixtures for anything that doesn’t resemble a Tesco carrier bag.

Standard kit is good on the Scout, items like air conditioning, exclusive Scout upholstery, ESP, cruise control and rear parking sensors feature. Talking of which, the £20,900 1.8 petrol is the entry-level, the diesel here being £22,540; that represents a hike of around a thousand pounds over the standard 4x4 Octavia estate.

When you bear in mind the 2.0-litre diesel Audi A4 Allroad starts at £31,000, the Scout is something of a bargain.

I’m not saying the Skoda’s as good as the Audi but forget the Skoda badge for a moment and remember it is £10,000 cheaper and from the same stable and one could understand why it would be a worthwhile alternative.

And on top of that, I notice many of the paramedics around Chesterfield have them.