Car shortlisting

Musing about what I might end up with... | 7/5/2020

What do I need?

  • Reliability
  • Reasonable load carrying
  • Comfort

What do I want?

  • Four wheel drive
  • Fuel economy
  • Affordable insurance
  • Performance/handling


Do I need 4WD?

I really like the idea, but 90+% of what I’m likely to do won’t need it. 

I know it would be of benefit to me in the Winter - even experienced drivers struggle in slush and snow with 2WD - so there’s that: and although I don’t know how often I’m likely to be offroad in fishing situations (not very often at all, based on past experience) I like the idea that it might open up venue options - although again, nothing springs to mind.

I just hate the idea of finding the “perfect” venue, only then to discover that to get to the water’s edge, I need to negotiate a rutted, slippery track that is beyond the capability of a 2WD box...

I can see more of a case for photography, though. A day in the hills (Weardale, North Northumberland) with Markie often leads us to tracks and trails which scream out for further investigation, but we’ve always been dissuaded by the terrain. Nothing serious, but not in the scope of a 2WD car. Even a relatively modest 4WD “softroader” (like the Vitara 1.4 BoosterJet AllGrip, probably my current favourite) would significantly open up possibilities. 

What about an estate car? That would certainly address load-carrying, and something like a Skoda Superb estate has a 4WD option that’s in my price range. But while it would cover off the Winter driving advantage (and would be a nicer car to drive and live with than any SUV I’d be able to buy, so ticks the comfort and probably the performance/handling boxes), it won’t get me off the beaten track to the same extent as say, the Vitara.

All of that said though - I’ve just watched some very persuasive videos of the Skoda Octavia Scout, on and off road. Hmmm

Although I have no particular (ahem..!) “boy” racer aspirations (that ship sailed a long time ago..! blush) there is appeal in the idea of something relatively quick and nimble on twisty country roads: in that regard I have to put (small) “estate” over “SUV” (the Octavia Scout again?)

Overall though, something like the Vitara strikes the best balance - plenty of room; 4WD; reasonable insurance and running costs; and by all accounts it drives not unlike the Suzuki Swift supermini it’s loosely based on. The Scout is right there too, of course.


The Scout is rarer than rocking-horse droppings. In fact, I've realised that to get a Scout, I need to consider Diesel.

And if I'm going to do that, it opens up my options to include the Skoda Yeti in 4WD.

Like the Scout, I can only get one in the UK with DSG gears and 4WD if I look at Diesel engines, but there are a lot more Yetis on the market than there are Scouts, and I really like the Yeti:

  • I think it's a far more interesting-looking take on the small SUV idea than most (including the Vitara);
  • it invariably receives (received - Skoda stopped making them in 2017) rave reviews;
  • I've seen enough of its performance off road to know that it will more than satisfy my aspirations in that regard;
  • they're affordable; and
  • Skoda's VarioFlex seating system appeals to me immensely. 

OK, the shortlist is down to three...

Categories: Personal