The Skoda Octavia Scout is an off-road version of the standard Octavia estate, which gets a 33mm increase in ground clearance, along with chunky off-roading styling cues. The Scout features silver front and rear bumper trim, silver mirrors and black plastic cladding along with underbody protection, meaning that it should be able to cope with a little mild off roaring.

As an estate-cum-off-roader the Scout lines up against rivals including the closely related Seat Leon X-Perience and VW Golf Alltrack and more premium four-wheel drive estates, such as BMW’s 3 Series Touring xDrive models and Audi’s A4 Avant Quattro variants.

Despite its added off road credentials, the Octavia Scout’s main role is as a practical and affordable family car, which offers slightly more distinctive styling than the standard Octavia estate.

What is it?

Thanks to an increase in ride height and underbody protection, the Octavia Scout is a hardy off-road version of the standard Octavia estate, which includes four-wheel drive for all-weather traction.

The Scout is available with two diesel engines – a 148bhp model with a manual gearbox, tested here and a 182bhp automatic-only variant. These models feature the same kit as mid-spec Octavia estates but gain unique off-road styling, a touchscreen sat nav system, cruise control and automatic wipers.

With a hugely spacious cabin and boot, and strong fuel economy, the Scout makes an impressive family car, with prices starting at just under £25,000.

What is it like to drive?

Despite heavier and having a higher centre of gravity than the standard car, the Scout handles corners very well.

The ride is smooth too, soaking up rough road surfaces and bumps without fuss, making this a capable long distance cruiser. Added to this, the Scout is very quiet, with little wind, tyre or road noise coming into the cabin, even at motorway speeds.

Furthermore, the car is simple to drive with well-weighted pedals, an easy to balance clutch and strong, responsive brakes. However, the engine is noisy compared to the best modern diesels and isn’t the smoothest unit. Even when warmed up the motor maintains a deep, diesel rumble and a little vibration does make its way into the cabin. But, if you’re not used to driving the newest diesel models, it should be more than civilised enough.

The engine pulls strongly and should be able to cope well with even heavy loads. Other negatives include a gear change which isn’t as slick as a number of rivals and steering which feels slightly vague at times; the steering seems to need small corrections when driving in a straight line, though it responds perfectly well around sharper bends.

What is it like inside?

The Scout is solidly built, but feels like it sits a rung below some rivals; the standard sat nav system in our test car has a small and hard to read screen, which feels like it’s designed to encourage you to upgrade to the £800 optional sat nav, which has a much bigger display.

The seats, though trimmed in leather and Alcantara, also felt shapeless and not as comfortable as those in the similarly priced Volvo V40 Cross Country for instance. However, they should be adequate for most journeys.

One thing the Octavia Scout doesn’t skimp on though, is sheer space. The driver’s seat offers plenty of adjustment and provides a comfortable driving position, while there is a generous amount of room for rear passengers.

Visibility is also strong for the size of car, with narrow pillars front and rear and big wing mirrors. The standard-fit rear parking sensors do come in very handy though, and it can be a little tricky to judge the end of the bonnet. The controls for the dual zone climate control system are very simple to adjust on the move.

Is it practical?

Absolutely. Both passengers and luggage are spoilt with acres of space in the Octavia Scout. Even with the rear seats up the car offers tonnes of boot room, though if you fold them down you’ll be hard pressed to fill all the space on offer.

Passengers of well over six feet tall should be able to sit with comfort in the front and rear seats, while even the central rear seat is spacious enough to use for shorter journeys.

Should I buy one?

The Octavia Scout puts up a strong case as a practical, affordable family car, which has a little added off-road ability.

The biggest question marks are over whether you need four-wheel drive at all – if not, the similarly-equipped and more economical Octavia Estate 2.0 TDI 150 Elegance could be yours for £2,200 less – and whether you value the Scout’s chunky off-roader styling. If the Scout’s styling does nothing for you but you want all-weather grip, you can save £750 by opting for the same model as above but with four-wheel drive.

The Seat Leon X-Perience also offers sharper styling and the same off-road credentials for a slightly lower price. However, the Scout offers a good value package for anyone after the most space for their money and 4×4 styling.

Don't want to buy new? You can browse for a used Skoda Octavia in our classifieds here.

The facts

Skoda Octavia Scout 2.0 TDI 4×4

List price: £25,315
Engine: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder diesel
Power: 148bhp
Top speed: 129mph
0-62mph: 9.1 seconds
Fuel economy: 46.3mpg (urban), 61.4mpg (extra-urban) 55.4mpg (combined)
Emissions: 129g/km CO2
Euro NCAP rating: Five stars