They are busy folk at Skoda, with a seemingly never-ending array of their models hitting our roads, the latest being the Scala and the Kamiq.

The latter is the Czech Republic manufacturer’s new response to the demand for SUV-crossovers in all their myriad guises, and a car that we hope to review soon, while the former – our road test motor – is the maker’s latest challenger in the hard-fought arena of the family hatchback, long dominated by the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra.

The Scala is the replacement for the Rapid, a worthy but ultimately unexciting offering, and it’s a major improvement in the looks department over its predecessor.

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I had spotted one of the new cars on the Continent a few weeks before test-driving the car on home turf, and what I had glimpsed, on a Spanish motorway, whetted my appetite for the week-long appraisal.

My initial assessment that the car was more stylish than the outgoing model was immediately vindicated, the exterior looking sharper and more modern, and for those with a leaning towards a more dynamic look, there is now a version in Monte Carlo trim.

The Asian Image car was a 1.0 TSI 115 SE manual. SE trim is the entry point to the range and comes well equipped, with features including 16in alloy wheels, an eight-inch infotainment system, cruise control, rear parking sensors, and auto-dimming rear-view mirror all fitted as standard.

The five-door Scala’s big plus in this hotly-contested segment is roominess.

There are five seats, with the rear ones big enough for three adults, while overall interior space is impressive and there is a bright and airy feeling to the cabin. Ergonomics are good and there is an accessible form-follows-function feel to the dashboard design.

The box marked ‘practicality’ is ticked with a large boot which offers a wide, square load area with an impressive 467 litres capacity and a low lip for easier loading. 

The rear seat-back folds in a 60/40 split, increasing total load volume to 1,410 litres. The boot also features large pockets behind each wheel arch – a boon for securing loose items.

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There is a plethora of storage areas, including large door-bins, a cooled glovebox, under-seat storage in the front and a sunglasses holder in the roof. Other practical touches include a space-saver spare wheel, rather than the now near-ubiquitous inflator-kit.

The on-the-road experience is an easy-driving pleasure with accurate steering, lots of grip, well-judged suspension set-up and a positive-changing manual gearbox. 

The single-litre petrol engine puts out 113bhp, with performance figures of 0-62mph in 9.8 seconds and top speed of 125mph. Fuel consumption is 44.8 to 49.6mpg with 113g/km of CO2 
(all manufacturer’s figures).

The Scala majors on passenger space and practicality while offering well-judged ride and handling, and strong build quality.

Value is impressive, with prices starting at £16,595.