Part of the Octavia estate range, Scout has standard 4x4 system, silver roof rails, side mouldings and unique bumpers

Part of the Octavia estate range, Scout has standard 4x4 system, silver roof rails, side mouldings and unique bumpers

Subaru, mighty in the US, has only a small following in Europe, so the rarity of the Outback crossover means an opportunity for others. The number one beneficiary is Skoda, the Octavia Scout dominating its segment.

Even with the Karoq and Kodiaq SUVs in its line-up, Skoda has made a point of continuing to develop crossovers. The Scout line has even been extended from estates such as the Octavia to the two newer SUVs.

Scout - distinguishing features

In short, Scout means a suspension lift; underbody protection plates for the fuel and brake lines; a silver finish for the roof rails, grille outline and mirror casings; unique wheels; and Scout-specific bumpers and wheel-arch extenders. Plus of course, four-wheel drive. On the inside there is leather and alcantara upholstery featuring the word SCOUT on the seatbacks. This also appears on the steering wheel as well as aluminium door sill scuff plates.

As with all Octavias, this one has an almost ridiculous amount of interior space. With the front seats set for the average height Brit, there is an abundance of knee room - way more than what you'll find in a premium economy airline seat. As for the boot, this too is near-amazing. The official volume is 610 cubic litres. Drop the backrests and that becomes 1,740 with them folded flat. Anyone who enjoys mountain biking but wants the security of their bike being inside the car might find the Scout to be a good choice.

380Nm and 184PS from the standard 2.0 TDI

In some countries, Octavia Scout buyers have the choice of two diesel engines. That comprises a base 110kW (150PS) 2.0-litre as well as a 136kW (184PS) version. In Britain, the 184PS 2.0 TDI is standard in combination with a six-speed DSG. This is also the only Octavia estate - aside from the vRS - which has the high power version of the 2.0-litre diesel. In SE L and Laurin & Klement model grades, the output of the 2.0 TDI is 150PS.

This car has some thoughtful, intelligently designed touches. At this time of year in England, hitting the button for the heated steering wheel is one of the first things anyone whose car has one does after starting the ignition. Only with the Scout, you don't have to: pressing the touchscreen to activate one of three settings for a warmed-up driver's seat activates the steering wheel heating automatically. What's more, you also have a choice of temperatures - so often you end up playing the game of on-off throughout a journey as most heated wheels have just the one setting, which is maximum heat. In the Scout, the low setting can stay on for quite some time and makes for a far more comfortable driving experience.

Standard 4x4 drive and Off-road mode

If things get muddy, the driver can select Off-road mode. This changes the stability system settings and engine characteristics, while Hill Descent Control is also standard. The additional 30mm of ground clearance over other Octavia estates is likely to be more useful to owners for avoiding scrapes from steep driveways than for serious off-roading. Ramp angles are 16.6 degrees at the front and 14.5 degrees at the rear. As Skoda would be the first to point out, those wanting more traditional 4x4 abilities can instead choose the Kodiaq, which also now comes in Scout form.

The 30mm higher stance compared to other Octavia estates plus tyres which are a touch chunkier and the grey plastic body kit combine to lend the Scout a genuinely rugged look. Try as I might, it was just about impossible to get this car to lose traction on some especially mucky roads that I had sniffed out.

The 4x4 system has an electronically controlled multi-plate clutch, which is located in front of the rear axle. There are also diff locks on both axles so smooth starts are guaranteed in all weathers. Well, snow might present a special challenge but I'm fairly certain the Scout would perform just as well as the likes of the pricier Volvo V60 Cross Country or its direct rival, the rarely spotted Subaru Outback. With 380Nm of torque this would also make an excellent tow car.

The Japanese crossover wagon is wildly popular in the USA - year to date, almost 150,000 have been sold there - yet only a fraction of that number find homes in the whole of Europe, a market of fairly similar size. Skoda would certainly love to have a D segment crossover which sells in the sort of volume that the Subaru does. Instead, the company accepts that this segment is a niche. As the Scout sits close to the top of the Octavia line-up, it is also without doubt a variant with excellent margins.

Octavia - how are sales doing?

The company doesn't break out sales numbers by variant, so specific volumes for the Scout aren't made public. In the case of the Octavia though, the model remain the brand's number one worldwide, with the Scout making up an undoubtedly high-margin small part of the total volume.

Even though WLTP delays meant volumes plummeted by 29 per cent in October, the Octavia range (29,000) still outsold the number two placed Rapid (15,300) by almost two-to-one. That's extra good going for a model that's now six years old.

What's coming next for Skoda?

The Scala, the brand's replacement for the Rapid, is to be shown to the media at a special event in Tel Aviv on 6 December. This C segment five-door hatchback goes on sale worldwide during the first quarter. By mid-year, a small SUV will be added, this one based on the Volkswagen T-Cross. The model name is secret but there are whispers of it being called Kosmiq. Like the VW, it will be front-wheel drive only. The public will see the Kosmiq for the first time at the Geneva motor show in March.

There should be a fresh generation of the Citigo next year too, along with the China-only Kamiq GT which is due out during the final quarter. As for a new Octavia, we're not likely to see one until 2020. So a successor for the current Scout is probably still 18-24 months away.

The Skoda Octavia Scout costs GBP30,345, has a CO2 average of 135g/km, a top speed of 136mph, reaches 62mph in 7.8 seconds and returns 55.4mpg on the Combined cycle.

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