mReview: 2023 Skoda Scala 1.0 Monte Carlo - Scala-ble Fun

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In keeping with the times, the folks at Skoda have opted to swap out the 1.5 litre lump in the Scala, for a Category A-friendly 1.0 litre engine.

Car makers have already been downsizing for the better part of the past decade. This is in response to the world’s governments pushing for greater sustainability in the transportation sector.

Locally, authorised dealers and their manufacturer partners have even more incentive to downsize, as lower capacity cars qualify for Category A COE, which typically costs less than the quota premiums for Categories B or E. Also, less polluting vehicles are taxed less, and may be eligible for rebates, making them even more attractive to the car buyer.

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But don’t be fooled into thinking that a smaller engine means less fun. The Skoda Scala 1.0 shows that you can still have brilliant entertainment perched behind the wheel, despite producing less horsepower and fewer carbon emissions.

Why Monte Carlo?

If you know your racing, you’d immediately associate this name plate with either the legendary Formula One Grand Prix, or the Monte Carlo rally. Skoda’s inspiration for the variant’s name is very clearly based on the latter, as it pays homage to its rally roots.

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Big claims then, for a small city car. And despite this not being an RS Skoda, the Czechs have blessed this with many RS-inspired styling cues. There’s no chrome anywhere on the vehicle, with the VAG-owned marque opting for a stealthy approach to its trim panels.

Aside from the very sporty, Monte Carlo-specific 18-inch alloy wheels, there are no obvious external bodywork differences between the Scala variants. Not that we’d change anything on the exterior to begin with, as the Scala has always been a good-looking (albeit slightly conservative) car.

Interior Upgrades

The racy theme continues in the cabin. A pair of properly-supportive bucket seats help hug the front occupants, coming in very clutch when you let an unhinged lunatic wheel the vehicle. The three-spoke, flat-bottom steering wheel, emblazoned with Monte Carlo motifs, certainly doesn’t help matters.

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You sit nice and low in the cabin of the Scala, and the driving position is excellent for a spot of spirited driving. All of your mission critical information is transmitted to you via a 10.25 inch digital display with infotainment needs taken care of by a decidedly dated 8.0 inch tablet-on-dashboard type screen.

Phone mirroring via Android Auto or Apple CarPlay is strictly wired-only, which can be bothersome to some car shoppers, considering there are lower cost vehicles on the market today that do it wirelessly.

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What they lack however, is a generous glass panoramic roof, with a size that rivals offerings from a much more premium Swedish electric car brand. This helps to illuminate the cabin, making it feel much more spacious. That being said, this space isn’t strictly a perception-thing only; there’s a surprising amount of room regardless of the seat you find yourself in, so strapping in and getting comfortable isn’t all that difficult.

On the Open Roads

The Scala Monte Carlo certainly talks the walk, but does it actually walk the talk? Well, it does, to a certain extent. Let’s get the obvious out of the way first. A 1.0 litre three pot will never provide the firepower needed to slingshot you out of corners. And you will not be smoking any other vehicle off the line too.

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But that isn’t to say that it lacks pace overall. It actually has proper usable power if you keep it in the mid-range, and the ratios Skoda selected for its seven-speed DSG certainly complements the engine's characteristics. However, I do have one gripe with its transmission, and that is its clunky downshifts from fourth to first. To solve this issue, you’ll have to manually blip the throttle when changing down from fourth all the way down to first. Doing so drastically reduces the strain on the transmission, smoothening the gear change.

You’ll very quickly realise how well sorted the car is in the bends when you hurl it into a sequence of corners. As it barely weighs anything, initial turn-in is excellent. The car is nice and darty, and makes for huge fun even at low speeds. 

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With additional momentum in the mix, you can feel the very progressive lateral weight transfer. The car tells you where it wants to go and what it wants to do, and the torsion beam rear end does move around in a controlled manner when you really go for it (we found that out across the border on the recent VW-Skoda Cat A Desaru Drive).

Stiff springs and the choice of rear suspension does mean this isn’t as comfortable as some of its Asian rivals, but it is a worthwhile trade-off as it makes for a more engaging drive.

Should You Buy One Then?

If you are in the market for a very competent European compact hatchback, the Scala should be very high on your shopping list. In fact, it never really had a lot of rivals to begin with, only competing with its SEAT and Volkswagen stablemates.

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But with the former no longer being sold locally, and the latter not being aggressively pushed, it is clear that VAG is putting all their MQB A0 hopes in the same Scala basket. This warm hatch is efficient, surprisingly spacious and yet can be huge fun if you do decide to up the ante.

The only question then, is which variant should you buy? The Monte Carlo is the range’s top dog for sure, but is it really worth the $15,000 premium over the base Ambition variant? That’s a question that only you can answer.

Skoda Scala 1.0 Monte Carlo Specifications
Price: $178,900  VES Band: A2
Turbocharged Inline-Three
1.0 litre
109 bhp, 200 Nm
7-Speed DSG
Driven Wheels:
Front-Wheel Drive
21.2 km/L
10.1 s
Top Speed:
202 km/h
Fuel Tank Capacity:
50 L
4,362 mm x 1,793 mm x 1,514 mm
2,649 mm
Cargo Capacity:
467 L

Photo Credits: ACube Creative (@weareacube)

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1 Comment

Would have been a perfect ride if not for the still problematic DSG dry clutch.

about 1 year ago