Upmarket family hatch debuts brand’s new design language and overhauled interior
Skoda has revealed the new Scala, with which it plans to take on the recently overhauled Ford Focus in the competitive family hatchback market – and considers it to be “the best chance” of redefining the segment for the brand.
The Scala, which replaces the Rapid in Skoda’s line-up, will only be available as a hatchback, and is the first Skoda to be built on the Volkswagen Group’s MQB A0 platform, which is already used on models such as the Seat Ibiza and VW T-Roc.
Opinion: Scala’s tech focus show Skoda is ready to lead and not just follow
It marks the debut of what Skoda is calling a “more emotional” design language, and takes styling cues from the Vision RS concept shown at the Paris motor show earlier this year.
That includes the optional all-glass rear window, which replaces a more traditional tailgate and features the word ‘Skoda’ written out in place of a logo (the manufacturer’s first car to do so) in an effort to distinguish the brand in markets where it is less well known, such as China.
The Scala also features an all-new interior, with new materials throughout including microfibre fabric for the seats and soft foam surfaces for the dashboard trim. The freestanding touchscreen infotainment system can be paired with an optional 10.25in virtual cockpit display in place of traditional instruments, and uses the latest generation software – a first across the entire VW group. The main touchscreen sits on a small ‘shelf’ for people to brace their hands while operating it.
It will become the first VW group car to be always-connected, with the ability to update over the air and download apps that widen the infotainment system’s abilities. It will also be among the very first cars with wireless support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, albeit as an option rather than standard equipment. Head of marketing Alain Faey called the Scala a “benchmark in infotainment and productivity”, one that would set the trend for the Volkswagen group rather than follow by example.
The five-seat Scala is 4362mm long, making it marginally longer than the outgoing Rapid Spaceback, with larger 2649mm wheelbase allows for increased legroom. At 467 litres, Skoda also says the Scala has the largest boot in the segment. An optional electric tailgate also features.
Other trademark Skoda touches, including an umbrella compartment in the driver’s door and ice scraper in the fuel filler cap that doubles as a tyre tread depth gauge, make a return.
In the UK, four engines will be offered at launch: two 1.0-litre, three-cylinder petrols with 94bhp or 113bhp, a 1.5-litre, 148bhp four-cylinder petrol and a 1.6-litre, 114bhp diesel. All will be powered through five- or six-speed manuals, or a seven-speed DSG automatic. There are currently no plans to introduce the plug-in hybrid powertrain previewed by the Vision RS concept.
An optional sport chassis will ride 15mm lower than the standard car and include four user-adjustable drive modes for a more responsive throttle and steering.
Three different trim levels – S, SE and SE L – will be offered in the UK. All will include a number of driver assist systems as standard, including autonomous emergency braking and lane keep assist. Adaptive cruise control, rear-view camera and automatic park assist are available as options.
Exact specifications have yet to be confirmed for the UK, but higher-end models will receive options such as keyless entry, wireless smartphone charging and remote door unlocking via a mobile app.
Scala is a Latin word that means ‘ladder’, and represents Skoda’s ‘next step forward in the compact segment’ according to company boss Bernhard Maier. Skoda is targeting a European market share of 4.3% for the Scala, exactly double what it achieved with the Rapid.
The Scala will go on sale in the UK in mid-2019. Prices are likely to start from around £16,500.