My first acquaintance with the Skoda Octavia came just a few years after the infamous Berlin Wall had come tumbling down.
I was driving through a small Czech town in the early hours when I spotted through the mist a car dealership that was lit up like a Christmas tree.
Showcased in that window stood a classy looking car that mad me draw breath and exclaim to myself; “Wow!”
Could that really be a Skoda? – the make we had all ridiculed up till then, even though, to be fair, it always seemed to win its class in all the big rallies.
Roll the calendar on to the present day and we find that Skoda has been totally re-habilitated and the marque now wears a badge of honour.
Today a consistently big seller here, the Octavia is recognised as among the very best offerings in its market sector.
Of course, it’s a couple of decades of Audi-Volkswagen ownership that have worked the oracle.
This car really is now well sorted and comes in a range of variants, including the rugged Scout 4 x 4 ‘crossover’ estate version, with its higher clearances and massive load area making it a farmer’s friend. The tag “A bit more space, a lot more car“ seems to fit the bill.
On offer are rugged rough road and ‘cross the fields performance, impressive steep slope capability and high traction capacity. It’s a solidly reliable workhorse.
As spacious inside as an Octavia Combi, the Scout gets its own interior trim styling and a 610 litre load space that stretches out to a whopping 1,740 litres when the rear seats are folded down. As well as being a solid workhorse, this one is great as a load carrier and people transport for all manner of outdoor pursuits, from mountain biking to kayaking.
This is the second generation Scout and offers 20 per cent better fuel consumption and lower emission levels than its predecessor, which was launched to great acclaim back in 2007.
The new Scout flexes its biceps with some rugged trim, with model specific bumpers, black plastic door-sill and wheel arch mouldings and protective black plastic side strips.
With a base price of £27,990, my 2.0 TDi 184 PS demonstrator was capable of reaching 62-mph in 7.8-seconds and storming all the way to a 136-mph top speed whilst offering up to 55.4-mpg when driven more sedately.
Cruise control, 17-inch alloys, a special rough road handling package, lane assist, sunset glass and rain sensors are among the useful bits of kit while there’s a raft of add-ons available, including the wide-opening and very welcome panoramic sunroof fitted to my car.