If you are looking for a well-built, attractively-priced car then Skoda has the answer in the Octavia. But not everyone wants to drive something quite so large.

Enter the mid-sized Scala, which slips between its little brother the Fabia hatchback and the saloon-like Octavia in both size and price.

Less expensive and a little longer than the Volkswagen Golf and benefiting from the latest technology from the Volkswagen Group, the Scala comes with a distinctive front grille and sleek hatchback styling.

And while it doesn’t have the huge interior space of the Octavia it will happily seat five adults and their luggage.

The Scala comes in three trim grades with a range of engines, including two 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engines, a more powerful 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol and a 1.6-litre diesel. These drive through a six-speed manual gearbox, while a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic is optional with all but the least powerful engine.

The car driven here was powered by the 1.0-litre 115 horsepower engine which is much more capable than those statistics suggest. Lively acceleration, quiet refined motorway cruising and day-to-day fuel consumption approaching 50mpg are an attractive combination.

Equally impressive is the Scala’s ride which is excellent at separating everyone on board from the bumps and bangs which come as standard on poorly-maintained roads.

That ride comfort comes at some expense of the handling, but while not razor sharp it steers tightly enough on country roads and the lightweight throttle, brake and clutch make it easy to drive in heavy city traffic.

The SE model is priced at just over £18,500 on the road and comes with a hefty selection of standard equipment including electrically-operated front and rear windows, height-adjustable driver and passenger seats and an eight-speaker infotainment system with AppleCar Play and Android Auto link. Cruise control, lane assist and a multifunction trip computer are also standard on SE models.

Skoda has also prepared a tempting and lengthy list of optional extras. Some of those fitted to the test car included 17-inch alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors, a front centre armrest with two rear USB ports and a tailgate design pack with animated rear LED indicators.

The boot is seriously large for such a compact car and flipping down the split rear seatbacks opens van-like carrying capacity.

An optional variable boot floor makes the loadspace even more versatile, as does the so-called boot pack with its variety of nets – useful for pinning down awkwardly-shaped objects that might otherwise roll around in the back.

The interior of the car has plenty of storage spaces too, with a large glove compartment, a box between the two front seats and large compartments in the doors.

Like all Skodas, the Scala is fitted with its share of ‘simply-clever’ features, including a parking ticket holder mounted at the side of the windscreen, an umbrella in a compartment in the driver’s door, an ice-scraper that doubles up as a tyre tread-depth gauge clipped to the fuel-filler cap, and a cap for the screen-wash that unfolds to use as a funnel.

The test car was also fitted with an ingenious £775 optional electrically-retractable towbar which folds out at the touch of a button in the boot. Other options include a powered tailgate.

At a time when cars seem to be getting ever bigger and more expensive, the Scala is a breath of reasonably-priced fresh air.

Auto facts

Model: Skoda Scala SE 1.0 TSI

Price: £21,360 as tested

Insurance group: 17E

Fuel consumption (combined): 49.6mpg

Top speed: 125mph

Length: 436.2cm/171.3in

Width: 179.3cm/70.4in

Luggage capacity: 467 litres/16.5 cu ft

Fuel tank capacity: 11 gallons/50 litres

CO2 emissions: 113g/km

Warranty: Three years/ 60,000 miles