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TALENT SCOUT (some text hidden)
By Jonathan Crouch
Skoda's latest Octavia Scout estate is worth a look if you want a value-oriemtated go-almost-anywhere family estate. Jonathan Crouch reports.
Ten Second Reviewword count: 50
The Skoda Octavia Scout estate offers an all-wheel drive chassis, a raised ride height and a pair of punchy diesel engines at prices that stack up against some plush family hatchbacks. It's bigger inside than a rival Volkswagen Passat Alltrack and cheaper to run as well. Job very well done.
Backgroundword count: 198
On the face of it, the concept of a Sport Utility Vehicle is a bit farcical. Which sport are you engaging in at the helm of, say, a Land Rover Discovery Sport? If the remit is to get you to the sport, then surely a bus or train would also warrant the sports tag. There really is nothing sporty about these vehicles. They're just reassuringly large. Those who feel they don't need to prop up a fragile ego with a car so big your neighbours could raise a right to light petition against it have often sought something subtler; the go-anywhere estate car. Audi popularised this genre with its allroad models, Volvo followed with its XC70 but Subaru had them both licked in selling us all-wheel drive estates with just enough off-road ability to get most of us to where we needed to go. Sporty? Not really, but handy nevertheless if you lived in the country or wanted something that could handle the worst of British winters. Skoda followed suit with its Octavia Scout models but they've never really gained much traction with the car buying public. Still, the Czech brand is persisting with this improved MK3 model.
Driving Experienceword count: 242
The basics are pretty straightforward. For this sort of car, you really want an estate bodyshell, a bit of extra ride height, a brawny diesel engine and the obligatory all-wheel drive mechanicals. Skoda duly delivers, with the engine choice extending to either a 2.0 TDI 150PS with a six-speed manual gearbox or a 2.0 TDI 184PS featuring a six-speed DSG twin-clutcher as standard. The fifth-generation Haldex clutch transmission more accurately distributes torque between the front and rear axles. The ECU monitors your driving (steering angle, throttle position and how heavily you're braking) and delivers what it feels is the correct split of torque to each axles. As soon as a front wheel starts spinning, the clutch is engaged, sending torque to the rear tyres. An electronically locking differential on both axles helps too, drive being distributed evenly from side to side for optimum grip. Like the rest of its sibling vehicles in the Volkswagen empire, this Octavia rides on the modular MQB chassis, which means that it'll ride well, handle competently and won't cost the earth to develop. The MQB chassis is also key in understanding how Skoda has been able to offer this 'stretched' long wheelbase chassis at only a modest incremental cost. The old family of platforms would never have allowed this to be commercially viable. The modular nature of MQB means that making it longer, shorter or even wider is comparatively easy, giving Skoda real flexibility in product planning.
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Category: Crossover or SUV 4x4s
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