Could this be the dark horse of the year?
The Skoda Scala is Australia's newest small car.
The Czech brand's new Mazda3 rival is loaded with fresh tech and features an extensive standard equipment list.
The Scala is due to arrive in Aussie showrooms this June in three variations: 110TSI, Monte Carlo and Launch Edition.
Prices start at $26,990 drive-away for the base 110TSI with a manual transmission; adding a seven-speed dual-clutch auto costs an extra $2000. The Monte Carlo version costs $33,990 and the Launch Edition $35,990.
Skoda is following the lead of brands such as Mazda and Ford by not offering a budget option, instead starting the range with a more expensive and well equipped entry model.
The base Scala is priced similar to an entry-level Toyota Corolla and Volkswagen Golf and undercuts the cheapest Mazda3.
All three versions of the Scala are powered by a 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine making 110kW/250Nm. This engine is also a mainstay in the VW Golf.
The Scala has the Volkswagen Group's 10.25-inch virtual cockpit and an 8-inch infotainment display that increases to 9.2-inches in the Launch Edition.
All models get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
But although the Launch Edition gets satnav and wireless Apple CarPlay, it misses out on Android Auto at launch. It will come next year.
The Scala gets all the necessary safety kit including auto emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist. The Launch Edition builds on this with blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert and auto park function.
Skoda has added a lot of standard equipment to the Scala. The base model gets an auto tailgate, 18-inch wheels, wireless smartphone charging, reversing camera with parking sensors and a full-size spare tyre.
Higher spec models get sports seats and pedals, leather appointed trim, panoramic sunroof, dual-zone airconditioning and adaptive driving modes.
Originally published as Could this be the dark horse of the year?