Launchpad Skoda launches the rugged-looking Scout. Ameya Dandekar on the new Fabia
Here's the new Skoda Scout and the only way to differentiate it from the regular Fabia is the off-roader-like plastic cladding running along the bottom of the car. It feels like a mildly beefed-up, pseudo-SUV version of the Fabia. The front bumper is all-new and has a big sporty air-dam. To add to the off-road feature, 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 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.
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. The Scout's more-than-4-metre lengthdisqualifies it from the sub-4-metre excise rule. So what you end-up paying more for are the rugged looks and slightly better equipment.