New Skoda Scala sets its sights on Ford Focus market

New hatchbaxck replaces the unloved Rapid, but will push to be a bigger rival to the big-selling Ford

New Skoda Scala is actually a replacement for the somewhat unloved (and very cheaply-made) Rapid, but will be a deal more sophisticated than that car

New Skoda Scala is actually a replacement for the somewhat unloved (and very cheaply-made) Rapid, but will be a deal more sophisticated than that car

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On the shores of the Dead Sea, in Tel Aviv, Skoda has launched its operatically-named Scala, which will hit Irish dealerships in the second quarter of next year. It will become Skoda’s rival to the likes of the Ford Focus, and the new Toyota Corolla (not to mention a little in-house rivalry for the VW Golf), but it’s actually based on the same mechanical package as the VW Polo.

Underneath is the same MQB-A0 platform that we first experienced when driving the current Seat Ibiza. At the time, we opined that the Ibiza felt sufficiently mature and spacious to avoid the need to upgrade to a more expensive C-segment hatchback. Skoda, for the Scala, has taken that idea and run with it…

It’s actually a replacement for the somewhat unloved (and very cheaply-made) Rapid, but will be a deal more sophisticated than that car. Taking some design cues from the recent Vision RS concept car (albeit looking rather more plain and predictable than that) the Scala features a black-glass tailgate, retro-style Skoda lettering on the boot (in place of the Skoda logo, and essentially a sop to the Chinese market, which prefers to see the name of the brand, rather than an abstract logo), and part-LED headlights and tail-lights, Full-LED lights will be on the options list, as will ‘dynamic’ indicators (which sweep from side-to-side when you remember to put them on…).

Inside, the cabin can be equipped with full digital displays, from a 9.2-inch screen for the instruments, to a 10.25-inch screen for the infotainment system. It remains to be seen which versions of the Scala will have those as standard, although Skoda has said that Irish models will stick to the usual Active, Ambition and Style trim levels.

Packed into the Scala’s 4.3-metre length is a very long 2.65-metre wheelbase, which is not only good for interior room, but very close to that offered by the current Octavia. Theoretically, the Scala will be cheaper to buy than the Octavia, which could cause some interesting dilemmas at Skoda dealerships. The Octavia is currently the fourth-best selling car in Ireland, and a more affordable Scala could upset that applecart. The problem will be resolved, in time, with the new Octavia, which will be larger, more luxurious, and more expensive.

As usual with Skoda, there’s a very decent boot - 467-litres is far bigger than that offered by most direct rivals, and it expands to 1,410-litres when you fold down the back seats.

Scala will enter the Irish market in June 2019 in time for the 192 registration period
Scala will enter the Irish market in June 2019 in time for the 192 registration period

The engine lineup is all compatible with the latest EU6.2 emissions regulations, and Skoda expects most Irish customers to plump for the 95hp version of the 1.0-litre TSI three-cylinder turbo petrol. A 115hp version of that engine will also be available, as will the impressively smooth 150hp 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol. The only diesel variant, a 115hp 1.6-litre TDI, will only be available with a seven-speed DSG automatic transmission.

Scala will enter the Irish market in June 2019 in time for the 192 registration period. Cathal Kealey, PR Manager at Skoda Ireland, commented, “With the new Skoda Scala we are opening a new chapter in the compact hatchback segment. It is a completely new product which sets benchmarks in this segment with regards to technology, safety and design. In 2019, the Skoda brand increased share in each segment we compete. We are very confident that the Scala can attract and convert Opel Astra and especially Ford Focus customers in 2019 and into 2020.”

Probably some Golf and Octavia customers, too…

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