Skoda has finally prepared its Octavia Scout with an auto gearbox.
In the two years since its Australian launch the Skoda Octavia Scout hasn’t really lived up to sales expectations for head office, despite initial positive media acclaim.
Numbers have been low and the main reason for that has been the lack of an automatic transmission that’s more favoured by Aussie buyers than their Euro counterparts. (And unfortunately lingering negative brand perception Down Under hasn’t helped move Skoda units.)
So, in an effort to shift that perception and numbers, Skoda has embarked on a campaign that will see new models arrive (including the AWD Yeti later in the year), expanded the dealer network and, importantly, slotted parent company VW’s six-speed DSG auto into the Scout. It is an option, though; the six-speed manual remains the standard cog-swapper.
The auto would be the icing on the cake, if that honour wasn’t taken by the introduction of the Premium model Scout, which is a blatant tilt at main rival: Subaru’s Premium Outback.
The DSG (dual clutch, automated manual) auto offers a manual mode for self shifting and drivers can select a sport or economy setting to maximise acceleration or minimise fuel use.
The new gearbox remains mated to the 2.0-litre turbo-diesel that puts out 103kW at 4200rpm and 320Nm between 1750 and 2500rpm, which together offer a combined claimed fuel consumption of 6.1L/100km. (We’ve managed 8.6L/100km on a previous outing with the manual.)
The AWD system continues with the Haldex electronically-controlled clutch set-up and the Scout’s on-road stability is safely managed with ESP, ABS, EBD and anti-slip regulation (ASR) traction control and a hill-hold function to halt rollback. Inside, passengers are protected by six airbags; front, side and curtain.
The drive is a pleasant, quiet affair only marred by the slightly underpowered oiler struggling with steeper inclines and subsequently kicking down, but across the board the auto is smooth.
Comfort and convenience levels are high and the standard inclusions are impressive. Dual zone climate-control aircon; Columbus satellite navigation; 30GB hard drive and voice control with eight speakers for the sounds; reverse parking sensors; and heated front seats are the standard highlights, while a step up to the Premium Scout adds polished alloys; electric sliding glass sunroof; privacy glass for all rear windows; electric driver’s seat; and Alcantara leather upholstery.
In the wagon wars it’s all about space and the Scout has that in spades. Rear-seat passengers are a tad tight in knee room, though feet aren’t squished, but the cargo area can manage a 660kg payload with more space (seats up) than the Outback and only marginally less with the rear seats folded down.
Heading off into the wilds for the weekend warrior, confidence is boosted with 180mm ground clearance and bash plates under engine and gearbox.
The Scout definitely has a confident and fairly classy Euro feel and it appealed enough to draw buyers to the showrooms, only to put them off with the manual-only proposition, which was also quite stiff in operation.
Now, keenly and squarely in the price ballpark of the Subaru opposition, with premium appointments and that leather-wrapped and chrome T-bar auto lever removing 90 percent of the barrier to purchase, let’s see if Skoda achieves the 100 sales per month target it’s chasing.