With a translation that means ladder or step, Scala or in this case, the all-new Skoda Scala, is way more than just a few rungs up from the Rapid that it replaces.

Late last year, we attended the launch of the latest addition to the Skoda line-up and found it very easy to get along with. It offers new technology, an emotive new design, more space and comes highly connected, in fact, they’ve crammed so much into this compact hatch that it was only fair that we organised another look - Skoda NZ were happy to oblige.

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Our review model came dressed in Race blue, (although there are 12 to choose from including Rally green) and it was a standout in the Auckland sun, particularly when contrasting with the hatchback’s chrome Skoda wing grille and black exterior accents. We had been given the top of the line ‘Sport’ complete with a 1.5L (110kW) TSI engine, racier trim inside and out plus 18-inch vega alloys to keep us connected to the road below.

It’s a stylish hatch that embraces Skoda’s bohemian crystalline history yet overlaps it with modern LED lights both front and rear and a whole heap of ‘Simply Clever’ features that I’ll get to soon. There is a tapering roofline towards the back that greets the spoiler an extended glass hatch that incorporates (for the first time) Skoda brand lettering rather than their logo - it’s very upmarket.

Despite its compact and easy to manoeuvre dimensions, the Scala boasts category-leading 467L boot and its 982mm rear headroom sets a new segment benchmark. It’s spacious front and rear with a driving position that makes it simple to interact with the Scala’s physical and technical attributes, for which there are many.

The dashboard has been designed to mimic the lines of the bonnet adding interior and exterior cohesion. The front seats feel comfortable and supportive and the presence of contrast stitching and tactile materials doesn’t go unnoticed. The free-standing infotainment touch screen is very accessible and even has a place to rest your hand when using and gives you entry to wide range of driver and safety aids such as lane assist, front assist and for the first time in the category, Pedestrian and Cyclist monitoring.

The other thing this compact hatch has is a raft of storage and Simply Cleverness. Front and rear there are numerous cubby holes and smarts to make even the most avid hoarders amongst us happy. Of course, there’s space for your phone, your book, your tablet and your nic nacs, but they’re helpful too. For instance, the cup/bottle holders have rubber mounts on the bottom, so you can push down and open your fizzy drink one-handed. There are plenty more Skodaisms too. An Ice scraper that doubles as a magnifier and tyre tread depth gauge behind the fuel flap, cargo nets, umbrellas in the front doors and a new integrated funnel for when filling your windscreen washer water tank.

On the road, the Scala offers small hatch handling. The Sporty chassis is firm in the corners and the throttle response is quick enough to put a smile on your face. It feels light and nimble on the open roads and yet easy to navigate the intricacies of the city and surrounding burbs.

The Scala is a fun ride that’s full of surprises. It’s spacious yet compact, sporty yet frugal, smart yet natural. Simply put, it’s a big step up from the Rapid.

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