The all-new Skoda Scala slots in between the Rapid and Octavia in Skoda product range, and marks the first time in a while that Skoda has offered a direct competitor to popular models such as the VW Golf, Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Mazda 3 and Ford Focus, among others. Let’s go through why the Scala might be a worthy entrant into this segment.
As per Skoda’s press release, ‘Scala’ is Latin for ladder or stairs, and implies a new, perhaps more upmarket progression for the brand with regard to technology and design. As a result, I think that this name is appropriate for a few reasons for this car. Foremost, it marks the production version of Skoda’s ‘Vision RS’ concept, and the debut of an evolved visual design that places a greater focus on sharper, more geometric creases in the bodywork accompanied by ‘crystal glass’ elements in the headlights and tail-lights.
Above top: The sharper, more geometric creases in the Scala’s bodywork are reflected in this triangular wheel design. Below: The ‘slats’ along the bottom of the headlights evidence the crystal glass design that the Scala embraces.
Moreover, the Scala ostensibly debuts the Volkswagen Group’s third generation infotainment system, perhaps marking the first time that the budget oriented Skoda marque gets first dibs on technology new to the entire VW group. I say ostensibly, as the system appears to be less advanced than the triple screen setup used in certain Audi models.
The Scala introduces an extended, blacked-out rear glass windscreen which visually divides the tailgate into two distinct sections by contrasting with the bodywork below. This design is quite reminiscent of Volvo’s C30 and V40 hatchbacks, and, as with those vehicles, adds another point of difference from run-of-the-mill designs.
Above left to right: The design of the Scala’s tailgate apes the Volvo V40 and C30 - both of which drew inspiration from Volvo’s 1800ES estate.
An interesting, nitpicky, detail is the use of Skoda lettering across the tail, akin to the Volvos. I think this detail could be changed depending on the market where the car is sold to further enhance brand and model recognition. In markets such as Europe, where the Skoda brand is popular and well known, the Skoda lettering could be replaced with only ‘Scala’ instead. The car is already recognisably a Skoda, and doing so would focus attention on the new model line in particular and the evolved design language that it presents.
Of course, currently both the marque and model designation are clearly displayed on the tailgate, however this creates an asymmetrical, unbalanced look with no corresponding lettering on the right side.
As discussed previously, the front of the Scala presents an evolved, geometric interpretation of Skoda’s crystalline design language. I like it - it gives the Scala a differentiated look without being tasteless or overdone. Importantly, in a sign of attention to detail, the creases match up. Note how the bonnet creases either side of the Skoda badge flow precisely into the vertical grille slats, helping disguise the radar sensor, whilst additional character lines adjacent to the bottom of the grille align with those flowing into the headlamps.
Side profile and proportion
A recent article in Autocar magazine provides an illuminating set of reference images in order to judge a vehicle’s proportions by:
Above: The Range Rover in correct and incorrect proportions. It’s easy to see which one has the more appealing visual design.
Using those two images as a comparative benchmark, it’s clear that the Scala has been designed with the right proportions. The swage line across the side profile visually elongates the car, and the wheels (at least in this spec) and overhangs are appropriately sized. Together with the steeply raked D pillar, this creates a more aggressive, sporting appearance. Nevertheless, a small detail I dislike is the chrome trim around the door edges - this begins at the bottom of the doors before hooking and stopping abruptly halfway up the D-pillar. There doesn’t seem to be any design benefit to this, and it simply looks like an obvious cost-cutting measure.
The interior appears to be standard VW/Skoda fare, with an emphasis on the horizontal axis of the dashboard, and logically placed, easy to use HVAC (heating, ventilation, air-conditioning) controls. What is jarring is the use of a dated, space consuming manually operated handbrake instead of an electronic push button parking brake.
Overall, I quite like the design of the new Skoda Scala. The name is largely apt, the visual design is differentiated from key competitors and I’m pleased to see that, after a long time, Skoda is directly competing with vehicles in this segment.