Czech carmaker Skoda has finally pulled the wraps off its new hatchback, the Scala. The name comes from the Latin word ‘stairs’ or ‘ladder’, which represents the brand’s evolutionary step forwards in the segment. The Scala incorporates a new design language first shown on the Vision RS, and the sporty look will gradually be shared with upcoming models.
First off, the design. The new dynamic look is impressive from nearly all angles, but none more so than the front fascia. With a pair of slim, angular LED headlights (standard, full LED is optional), wide radiator grille with vertical slats and thick chrome surrounds, as well as wheel selection from 15- to 18-inches, the Scala appears significantly more athletic than the Rapid it replaces.
The profile gets a dramatically contoured shoulder line (Skoda calls it the tornado line), which begins from the edge of the headlights and guides the eye all the way to the sleek LED tail lights. The Scala is the first Skoda model to get dynamic rear turn indicators (optional), and it works by flashing outwards in a sweeping motion.
Other notable exterior features include side air curtains, dynamic roofline, aerodynamically-optimised rear spoiler and rear diffuser, all of which help the Scala achieve a low drag coefficient of 0.29 Cd. The hatch is also the first Skoda model in Europe to get the Skoda lettering featured on the tailgate, as opposed to having the firm’s badge. The full panoramic glass roof with electrically retractable sunblind is optional.
Dimensions-wise, the Scala boasts an overall length of 4,362 mm, width of 1,793 mm, height of 1,471 mm and a healthy 2,649 mm wheelbase. That makes it longer than the VW Golf, which is 4,258 mm (-104 mm) long, 1,799 mm (+6 mm) wide, 1,452 mm (-19 mm) tall and a wheelbase of 2,620 mm (-29 mm).
Inside, the Scala gets a 10.25-inch fully digital Virtual Cockpit with five different configurations, a free-standing touchscreen infotainment display (available in 6.5-inch, 8.0-inch and 9.2-inch units; top-end unit gets Skoda Connect mobile services), as well as red or white ambient lighting. It has a class-leading boot space of 467 litres, and expands up to 1,410 litres with the rear bench folded down.
Higher-specced models are equipped with an eight-speaker sound system, Wi-Fi hotspot, 3D satellite navigation, wireless smartphone charging, 64GB of internal SSD storage, and downloadable apps for the infotainment system.
Another first for Skoda is the fact that the Scala now rides atop the MQB A0 platform from VW Group. The said platform is used for models such as the Seat Ibiza and Volkswagen T-Roc. More importantly, MQB A0 brings many advantages such as cabin spaciousness, reduced weight thanks to its modern chassis design and extensive use of high-strength steel, as well as flexibility in terms of powertrain compatibility.
Having said that, the Scala is available with three TSI petrol engines, one 1.6 litre four-cylinder TDI engine, and a 1.0 litre three-cylinder G-TEC mill that’s specifically designed to run on environmentally friendly natural gas (CNG). However, the G-TEC engine, which makes 90 PS and 145 Nm of torque, will only be available sometime next year.
The gasoline trio is comprised of a 1.0 litre TSI three-potter engine, making two states of tunes – 95 PS/175 Nm and 115 PS/200 Nm. A hotter 1.5 litre four-cylinder TSI (basically the VW 1.5 litre TSI EA211 evo, comes with Active Cylinder Technology) making 150 PS and 250 Nm is also available. The 1.6 litre TDI unit makes 115 PS and 250 Nm of torque. Transmission choices include a five-speed manual (entry-level model only), six-speed manual and seven-speed dual-clutch DSG.
Those familiar with the MQB platform will know the breadth of its performance and exemplary ride capabilities. The Scala shares the same benefits, but keener drivers can opt for the new Sport Chassis Control, which lowers ride height by 15 mm. It features four drive modes – Normal, Sport, Eco and Individual.
In terms of safety, the Scala is said to be one of the safest vehicles in the segment. The MQB A0 platform also allows Skoda to offer a wide range of active and passive safety systems, and this includes up to nine airbags and crew protect assist (optional), which quickly and automatically closes any open windows and pre-tensions the front seat belts in the event of an impending collision.
There’s also multi-collision brake, side assist, blind spot detect, rear traffic alert, lane assist and front assist with city emergency brake (standard, detects pedestrians as well). Other safety systems that can be had are driver alert fatigue detection system, adaptive cruise control (up to 210 km/h), park assist with optional rear-view camera and manoeuvre assist.
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