Scala a big step-up for Skoda

When I picked up the new Skoda Scala last week I thought of the late Tommy O’Brien, who used to present a great programme called ‘Your Choice and Mine’ on Radio Eireann, long before the introduction of LyricFm.

When introducing a song Tommy might say ‘‘I first heard this song in La Scala in Milan back in the sixties.’’ However, thanks to our good friend Google it looks like there is no connection between the new Skoda Scala and the famous Opera House in Milan.  

The Scala, which is a replacement for the Rapid, is meant to fit between the Skoda Fabia and Octavia and is intended as a competitor for the VW Golf, Ford Focus and Opel Astra. Scala means ‘stairs’ or ‘ladder’ in Latin and according to Skoda their new model represent a big step forward for them in the compact car segment.

I drove a Race Blue coloured model at launch earlier in the year, but last week my test car came in a gorgeous Velvet Red colour. Externally it looks good at the front and at the back the word Skoda is now spelt out across the boot, a bit like Volvo cars and more recently the Ford Focus.

Inside it’s typical Skoda, everything well laid out and easy to use. There is a nice touch of gold, but it’s really brushed copper, on the dash where you will find everything works perfectly in the eight-inch infotainment screen. 

There is keyless entry, but when you enter there is no need for a key, as the car is started by means of a button just the right of that sporty-looking steering wheel. In truth I would prefer if the key fitted into that the slot near the wheel as then I know where it is when I stop the car!

There were some complaints about the new-style USC C port, but Skoda has now provided a conversion cable to suit our i-phones.

As usual Skoda provide a few neat touches, with a clip in the windscreen to hold your parking ticket and a scraper near the fuel cap to wipe away the frost when the weather changes. Skoda used to provide a complimentary umbrella in some models also.

On the road The Scale was a pleasure to drive and my diesel version was very quiet and frugal. The Lane Assist warning kept me on track. Back seat passengers can leave down an arm rest, if you have only two people in the back. My test model also had a very attractive sun roof, which cost an extra €900. 

The boot is massive, probably the same size as the Octavia or Superb and with Skoda you always get a full-size spare wheel.

Prices start at €23,650 for the Scala, but my 1.0-litre TSI with lots of extras, will cost you €30,118. Overall there are two petrol and just one diesel option. Road tax is €200. 

You may have read recently that figures released by the NCT showed that the old Skoda Yeti had the highest pass rate in Ireland. For me Skoda cannot do any wrong and their cars are now up there with the best on offer. A bit like the title of Tommy O’Brien’s old radio programme, ‘Your choice and mine.’

Sean Creedon

Sean Creedon is a national motoring journalist.

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