Chaos theory

With a spacious body and very reasonable boot, the Skoda Octavia Scout is a genuinely impressive performer off-road. Equipment levels too are excellent; with automatic lights and wipers, a new touch screen radio, dual zone air-con and parking sensors.

With a spacious body and very reasonable boot, the Skoda Octavia Scout is a genuinely impressive performer off-road. Equipment levels too are excellent; with automatic lights and wipers, a new touch screen radio, dual zone air-con and parking sensors.

It has been said, time and time again, that we’re simply not prepared for adverse conditions on this island. That shouldn’t really come as a surprise. If there are two things that we Irish excel at, they are stubbornness and mass calamity. Of course, we prefer to call them ‘community spirit’, but we’re not fooling anyone.

So, when Arctic conditions are forecast we mostly ignore it. Then, on the first morning that we pull back the curtains to discover a sparkling winter wonderland we carry on as normal and, as a result, crash into each other and sit on the hard shoulder with obliterated radiator hoses.

There is an alternative however, and that’s to buy a more capable machine before the going gets tough. Fortunately we live in rich times when it comes to rugged transmission options. Four-wheel drive no longer means large, cumbersome, grumbley gas-guzzlers (unless you want it to). Anyway, buy a big traditional SUV and you’ll spend the winter months pulling friends and neighbours off their drives and out of ditches.

Far more sensible would be to opt for one of the subtler options, and Skoda’s Octavia Scout is among the subtlest. The Octavia has long been one of the D-segment’s hidden gems, making the most of the reliability, build quality and cutting edge engines and transmission options from the Volkswagen Group.

With saloon and estate models, engines from a frugal 80bhp 1.4-litre TSI engine to the 200bhp vRS, six and seven-speed DSG transmissions and four-wheel drive available it already boasted plenty of appeal. Recent revisions inside and out have boosted the appeal further.

Underneath the raised body, under-side protection means the Octavia can make full use of its extra traction; it’s no gimmick, the Octavia Scout is a genuinely impressive performer off-road.

It’s also pretty good at less exciting family stuff, with a spacious body and very reasonable boot. There’s minimum intrusion from the transmission tunnel in the rear and the practical and stylish front passenger compartment is big on storage space, with a chilled glovebox and more storage under the passenger seat.

Equipment levels are excellent considering the price; automatic lights and wipers are present, a new touch screen radio gives the cabin a more high-tech feel and there’s dual zone air-con and parking sensors. The only limiting factor with the Scout is engine and transmission choice. Only the 158bhp 1.8 TSI or 138bhp 2.0-litre diesel are available - both with a six-speed manual gearbox.

The perfect car for under-prepared Irish motorists, the Octavia Scout will allow drivers to carry on as normal as chaos ensues, without paying the penalty during the other 50 weeks of the year.