Octavia Scout earns all-round merit badge
IF Robert Baden Powell drove a car then this Skoda would almost certainly be it.
You see, his motto, "Be Prepared" could easily have been used to describe one of the most versatile cars on the road today.
There's practically nothing this vehicle can't do. It's big enough to carry the whole troop, has enough luggage space to ferry tents, haversacks, sleeping bags, ground sheets, pots, pans and just about everything else needed for an annual jamboree.
And because it is a proper 4-wheel drive, it'll get you up the side of that mountain quicker than a long haired goat.
It is also loaded with the finest and smartest technology including EPS, cruise control, sat nav, Bluetooth, on-board computer display, rain sensing wipers, multi-function steering wheel and parking sensors.
She's got plenty of grunt too with a torquey 2.0 litre TDi diesel banging out 140bhp while returning a very impressive 5.6l/100km (or 45mpg) in the €330 a year Tax Band C.
Quite fluffy credentials for a wagon that looks like it's been armour-plated with aluminium scuff plates fitted front and rear - complete with thick rubber mouldings encasing the whole car.
That invincibility is copper fastened by the raised suspension (65 millimetres bigger than the Combi) giving it the road presence of a Special Forces Humvee.
The 'always on' 4X4 derives from the clever Haldex clutch control unit hiding in the rear axel. Through a series of sensors the unit can detect loss of grip in all four corners which in turn corrects this by re-distributing the power.
But on snow is where the Haldex shows how smart it is by figuring out where best to give maximum traction.
If it detects poor grip at the front and right rear it will recalibrate and send 10% to the front, 5% to the rear left and 85% to the rear right -- or whatever the power is needed.
Unfortunately the snow never came, much to the disappointment of my eight-year-old and yours truly as we so desperately wanted to mimic the pictures in the press pack of a family hurtling down the side of a mountain on a rubber ring.
We did however take the Scout to the beach where soft sand and mini dunes posed no threat. On tarmac -- where it will spend 99% of its life - it was a solid performer, spacious and comfortable.
Only one little gripe -- what you gain in comfort you lose in handling.
It could be the taller shocks and springs but the Scout lurched quite a bit in tight bends and the remote control central locking drove me scatty as it only unlocked the driver's door.
Prices for the Scout 4X4 start at €32,350.