Skoda Octavia Scout always prepared

Iain Dooley, Press Association senior motoring writer, gets to grips with Skoda's rugged and practical Octavia Scout estate.

Engines – A modest range is available for the Octavia Scout, with the predictable diesel option the most sensible one in light of the car's potential. Although not all-wheel drive, the Scout is a capable tow car and the extra torque and economy of the diesel is its main attraction.

Exterior – Yes, it looks like an Octavia, but the Scout's bash-proof wheelarch extensions and scuff plates hint at the car's more rough-and-ready appeal. Certainly, green laning and light off-roading won't be an issue with the Octavia Scout.

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Interior– Despite the car's rugged exterior, inside the Octavia Scout it's all very much like a regular Octavia. As such, cabin refinement and space is top notch, while the plush upholstery looks tough enough to endure an active lifestyle.

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Driving– With the car's slightly raised suspension, you immediately notice the difference when behind the wheel. There's a fraction more body roll but nothing that will spoil the driving experience. The petrol option is willing but the diesel engine is the better choice, even if you're not going to be towing a caravan or trailer – the extra torque makes for a more relaxed and frugal A to B experience.

Ownership – Low fuel bills with the diesel variant and a footprint the size of an Octavia Estate make for a no-nonsense ownership experience. With its spacious rear compartment and refined cabin, the Octavia Scout is a great load-lugger for active families or for those living in semi rural locations.

What to look for – With the potential to being worked hard, it's important to check that everything works and there's no damage waiting to surprise you later. A test-drive is crucial, along with a visual inspection inside and out. And for something this new a comprehensive service history is a must.

Model history – 2007, Skoda launches another of its popular niche Scout models, this time based on the Octavia Estate. Rugged styling – plastic wheelarch trim and kick plates – differentiate it from a regular Octavia wagon. Although not all-wheel drive, its raised suspension adds some flexibility.

Reasons to buy – Low-cost alternative to a full-blown 4x4, Skoda image and reliability, diesel economy and performance.

Reasons to beware – Not a full-blown 4x4, could catch you out if grip is very low, petrol variant can struggle under heavy load.

Pick of the range – Octavia Scout 2.0 TDI PD.

What to pay – 2007 07 �13,535; 2007 57 �11,950; 2008 08 �13,950; 2008 58 �15,075; 2009 09 �16,975; 2009 59 �18,025; 2010 10 �20,200. Figures relate to showroom prices for cars in A1 condition.

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