You may have noticed that road test reviews of the Skoda Octavia have dominated these pages over last few issues, and there’s a good reason for that. Not only are there a vast number of different versions, but also the Octavia is the best-selling car in the firm’s model line-up. This month we get behind the wheel of the Scout, the rugged estate car edition that seems to be default choice for paramedics here in the UK. Changes for 2017 centre around a new nose section, including a split design for the headlights, a larger front grille, fresh wheels and new seats for enhanced comfort over longer journeys. What hasn’t changed is the capable four-wheel-drive system, the 30-millimetre extra ground clearance and the two-tonne towing capacity that makes the Scout a perfect tool for caravaners. Under the bonnet of our test car is the most popular variant in the UK, the 148bhp 2.0-litre TDI engine, paired to a beautifully smooth six-speed manual transmission. It endows the Scout with strong, eager performance off the line, together with muscular mid-range torque. While there’s some chatter upon start up from cold, the engine’s demeanour is a whole lot more subdued once warmed through. Well-weighed, accurate steering makes the Octavia feel nicely poised when tackling corners, and with very little in the way of lean, it feels nicely balanced with tenacious grip. The adaptive suspension of our test car managed to deliver a supple, ride on road, and yet firmed up nicely to cope with tricky terrain when travelling off the beaten path. Road and tyre noise is neatly contained, and though there’s some wind flutter at motorway speeds, it’s hardly intrusive. If you’ve got to travel several hundred miles in one go, this Octavia Scout makes a really comfortable companion.

The newly introduced 9.2-inch navigation system has a modern glass-like appearance, and is easy to operate via the touch controls. We would, however, prefer there was a separate rotary knob for the volume, and at times the shiny interface can suffer from too many reflections, particularly in strong sunlight. The interior is nicely appointed with appealing soft-touch materials and well positioned controls. The instruments are clear, but with markings of 20, 40, 60 and so on, it would be handier if they better reflected UK speeds of 30 and 70mph. The driving position is nigh on perfect with generous ways of making it suit a wide cross-section of different drivers, with adjustment to both the chairs and steering wheel in a variety of directions. Space inside is simply huge, with decent headroom and almost limousine-like levels of legroom for back seat passengers. Storage space around the cabin is good, too, with a lidded tray in front of the gear lever, a handily sized armrest cubbyhole, large glovebox and well-proportioned door pockets. But the icing on the proverbial cake is the generous cargo capacity, with 610 litres of space with the seats up and a huge 1,740 litres with them folded down. Larry the Labrador will be impressed!