I’ve always been a bit sceptical about crossover versions of regular cars. Whether it’s upmarket models like the Audi A6 Allroad, or budget versions, such as the Dacia Sandero Stepway, they seem to me like they’re trying too hard, and the most off-roading they’ll ever do is tackling a high kerb or a grassy field. 

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What’s more, the plastic body cladding, raised ride height and four-wheel drive, where it’s offered, mean they command a premium over the standard models they’re based on, and usually have higher running costs, too.

Well, now it’s time to find out if there’s more to these cars than meets the eye, as I’ve taken charge of the Skoda Octavia Scoutthat has joined our fleet

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As it’s based on one of our favourite estates, the Scout is off to a good start, and the black plastic wheelarch trim and silver skid plates, roof rails and wing mirrors nicely complement the Octavia’s straight-edged design.

In some ways, I think the Scout makes more sense as the flagship of the Octavia range than the hot vRS model – it’s grown-up and refined compared to the wild child turbo model.

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And as it turns out, the 33mm raised ride height of the Scout is probably a more effective addition to the Octavia than the lowered sports suspension you get on the vRS. The extra height means there’s room for longer-travel suspension at each corner, and that ensures the Scout has a pretty comfortable ride, especially in town. 

Speed bumps and potholes are dealt with easily, yet the Scout still handles as an Octavia should, with light, direct steering and sharp responses, albeit with a bit of extra body roll. However, this is more controlled than with most SUVs, which is a definite bonus of the crossover estate.

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And the Scout’s talents don’t end there, as its motorway manners are first-class, too. The suspension soaks up all but the harshest bumps, while the plush cabin and quiet diesel engine help it to be a great cruiser.

One minor niggle is that adaptive cruise control is a £765 option – it’s standard on the top-spec Laurin & Klement version of theOctavia Estate, and it’s one luxury that I think would make the Scout even better.

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That’s about the only issue I have with the Scout’s kit list, and is more than made up for by the standard Amundsen sat-nav. It’s really simple to enter new destinations, and the mapping is clear. It also incorporates Bluetooth, DAB radio and an iPod connection, so I have plenty of options when it comes to listening to music on the excellent stereo.

Another standard feature is the vast 610-litre boot (although our car’s optional space saver reduces capacity by 20 litres), and the one in the Scout has taken everything I’ve thrown at it so far.

Our car also features a handy double-sided floor (a £75 option) which means there’s a wipe-clean surface that can handle dirty loads. And while the brown leather and Alcantara interior trim doesn’t really appeal to me, it’s proved to be hard-wearing and easy to clean.

So far, the Octavia Scout is convincing me that this type of model really works. Fuel economy of 45mpg is respectable, albeit 10mpg short of Skoda’s claimed figure, and it’s a price I’m happy to pay for a comfortable and urban-friendly family car.

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