The car you see here is the new Skoda Scout, a slightly puzzling and mildly beefed-up, pseudo-SUV version of the Fabia. It’s not the first time this has been done – remember the Fiat Adventure?
The Scout is distinguished from the regular Fabia by the off-roader-like plastic cladding running along the bottom of the car. The front bumper is all-new and has a big sporty air-dam. To add to the off-road feel, you also get a chrome chin spoiler. Even the rear has gone under the knife and the black bumper sports a silver diffuser. You also get Xenon headlamps and neatly integrated fog lamps. Interiors of the Scout feature door-sill trim and a sporty steel pedal set. Equipment levels are quite good too and the Scout gets dual airbags, integrated music system, keyless entry and tinted glasses.
The Scout is available with 1.2-litre petrol and diesel engines. We drove the petrol motor, which is the same as on a regular Fabia. Producing 75bhp it’s still not as smooth as a four-cylinder motor especially at idle but it’s not really obtrusive. The midrange is the engine’s strongest bit and it’s responsive and punchy. However, if the revs drop, the Scout gets lethargic and a downshift needs to be executed to get a move on. The light, crisp and short-throw gearbox is one of the best around, and that somewhat salvages the situation.
To make it easier to drive in town Skoda has considerably lightened the steering and softened the suspension too. As a result it is extremely easy to drive in traffic and low speed ride is excellent. But up the speed and the same light steering feels quite disconnected. It doesn’t seem to have the same poise as the old car and the whole driving experience is a bit inert.
The Scout is priced at Rs 6.79 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), which makes it Rs 70,000 more expensive than the Elegance 1.2 Fabia and Rs 30,000 more than the 1.6. I suspect the high pricing is also down to the Scout’s more-than-4-metre length, which disqualifies it from the sub-4-metre excise rule. As a result, what you end up paying more for are the rugged looks and the slightly better equipment, and that means it is quite expensive at this price. Spend the extra amount only if you really love the looks.