EMP, MQB, A0: In the corporate strategy game, dozens of models use the same platform. The Opel Astra comes from Stellantis, the two from Seat Leon and Skoda Scala from VW. Can more than one flat fit between the three? Well, let's test that asap and mfG!
Before we start: Could you go to your children/grandchildren's room and get six of these typical Lego bricks - two dots wide, four long? Now if you want to start trying out all the ways in which the six bricks can be put together? It would be good if you didn't have much more urgent plans in the next few years than to record which results are correct. There are several, which are also discussed in a thesis by the Danish mathematician Søren Eilers and his team at the University of Copenhagen: "The Lego Counting Problem". It could be 915,103,765 possibilities or just 101,981,504.
We're counting on you and meanwhile starting with the comparison test of the three compacts, which are all based on modular platforms, with three-cylinder turbo petrol engines and automatic. Whether the Astra, the Leon or the Scala cleverly combines the countless variants of its modular system? There's only one way to find out: we'll go out and test the three.
Opel Astra: little by little to Peugeot
In Generation L, the Astra now belongs to the illustrious circle of those 29 models worldwide that use the so-called Efficient Modular Platform, which Peugeot/Citroën first used in 2013 - long before the store expanded to Stellantis. Among the 28 relatives of the Opel, the intimacy extends to structural identity (Citroën Berlingo/Fiat Doblò/Peugeot Rifter/Toyota Proace City). In contrast, the Astra is one of the models that maintain a distanced relationship to close family closeness. Although it shares the technical components of the chassis, drive, electronics, assistance and infotainment with the Peugeot 308, the designers in Rüsselsheim succeeded in developing the Astra its own, Opel-typical character.
It was easy to shape with the design freedom that the EMP2 offers. From the outside, no group cousin resembles the Astra, inside it is furnished in its own style - right down to the first level of the operating system. Behind the stage design of the touch screen and the display-sparse digital instruments sits the same structural framework as in all models from Peugeot 308 to Citroën C5 X. Which is no longer so annoying. In the meantime? Well, ever since VW decided to wreak havoc on operations across the group, small intricacies or intricacies in the Stellantis system have been accepted as charming traits. At some point you will not only find everything, but all of this will also work – from the reversing camera that quickly fades in to the assistant ensemble, which culminates in the well-usable active lane and speed guidance.
The Astra is a bit off track when it comes to space efficiency. Almost the same dimensions as Leon and Scala, it accommodates passengers on the hard, padded, steep-backed rear seat in a cramped manner. Luggage, the pilot and the like travel unencumbered. Opel puts the two of them in the cockpit with ergo seats that are strong and comfortable.
Even empty, the Astra weighs the most here and can be loaded the most at 528 kg. So offers a drive of determination. The turbo petrol engine gives this expression in sound and vehemence. The engine starts with a drumming sound, turns lively, presses bravely and is supported in both abilities by the eight-speed automatic with suitably clocked gear selection. In Eco mode, she puts the idle in rolling phases to increase the economy - an undertaking that only partially succeeds, the Opel is in the test and Eco consumption with 7.2 and 5.8 l/100 km respectively around half a liter over the - slower - rival.
In the driving safety tests, he's also the one who scurries around the pylons the quickest. He doesn't bring his talent for dynamics completely onto the road. If you overdo it just a little, the smooth, precise steering loses precision and feedback, and the Astra shoves into understeer. Before that, he drives – tightly tuned, with a lot of springiness on short, rough bumps – cheerfully and quickly through curves. He always stays for sure.
Will he stay on the winning course? Possible, but let's see. It has less to do with a simpler choice of materials, cramped entry into the rear or poor all-round visibility than with the high base price of the well-equipped Astra. In any case, the following applies: it hasn't been in platform as good as on the EMP2 for generations.
Skoda Scala: the polo interpreter
Although the dimensions are only indicated by the narrow outer width, Skoda has set a different scale for the Scala. Positioned as a cheap car between the small and compact class, it is based on the MQB A0, the simplified version of the modular transverse matrix for small cars such as Fabia/Ibiza/Polo. The A0, for which Skoda is responsible for further development, is even more important for cars that are offered in emerging countries. Because they don't have it that way with e-mobility, only pure combustion engines can be cross-modulated on the construction kit.
This is how the Scala is powered by the standard version of the one-liter turbo petrol engine. He doesn't overdo it with enthusiasm for performance or enthusiasm for turning, which is also due to the leisurely tuned seven-speed double clutch. He shifts down late, often up again straight away and can't be dissuaded from the dawdness even in sport mode. The fact that this does not show up in the measured values compared to the equally powerful Leon can be explained by the fact that the Scala weighs 71 kg less.This should also contribute to the fact that the Skoda is as economical as the mildly hybridized Seat (6.8 l/100 km in the test).
Why aren't the weight difference and payload (397 kg) bigger? Because Skoda has equipped the test car with almost everything that the option list gives - from clever things like fold-out door edge protectors or the well-positioned assistance department to superfluous things like the electric tailgate operation. This gives the Scala an equipment luxury that is not quite consistent with the functional appearance that it also cultivates in terms of comfort and drive.
Lots of space for little money
The advantage of the Scala is that it offers a lot of space for less money. Adjusted for equipment, it is 2700 euros below the Astra and a good 2300 euros below the Leon. But as a style on a level that is impressive for the compact class anyway. The amount of space also ranks high – in the rear, the Scala offers five centimeters more standard seating space than the Astra, and it packs away more luggage than the others.
However, it is not really comfortable to travel in a Skoda. Softly tuned, the chassis responds gently to small bumps. But with harsh waves, the rear axle rumbles or swings up to strokes. The Scala does not have such movements under control as tightly as Leon and Astra. Which suggests it couldn't get too merry in handling.
It won't either. The Skoda curves through curves with discreet ambition. Meanwhile, he leaves no doubts about his safety (he could brake a little more vehemently), only moderate feedback in his precise steering and little pleasure when driving. Now you may find that you shouldn't expect that from a reasonable compact car. Well, you can, as we shall see shortly.
Seat Leon: a heart of golf
Dear youngest siblings or even cousins of a whole generation: Do you remember how we saw the older ones walking around in new trousers/shoes/jackets and knew that in a few years all the clothes would be in one big package and would end up with us in a condition far from new? Mama then looked through the things. As she calculated how much money it saved, the old-fashioned style inspired a euphoria far beyond our own efforts to feign polite happiness.
Since the days of Toledo I, Seat no longer gets the discarded VW technology, but the latest developments with a slight delay. But they have to control the Leon in Martorell with what they put in the package in WOB. Among them are excellent things such as the format of creating space for five in compact dimensions, with which the Leon could also exist in the middle class.Enough luggage fits into the everyday variable trunk, and the Seat gets the entire range of safety and assistance, from LED headlights to active speed and lane guidance to the blind spot warning system, which flashes the ambient light in the door panel if there is danger from behind.
The front drive is taken over by the latest, most efficient version of the one-liter turbo three-cylinder. The 48-volt mild hybrid system boosts it over the small starting weakness or the occasional hesitation of the usually alert seven-speed double clutch box. The E-Werk can supply the power supply on board with the energy of a small battery charged by recuperation. That's why the system not only puts the car in idle mode like in the Astra, it also switches off the engine. This lowers the consumption of the Leon to the level of the lighter Skoda.
Now it's time for a quiet "but", do you think? Well, it's more like one that comes roaring down the mountain. Because in addition to all the valuable components, the Leon also takes over the controls from the Golf... - well, we find it difficult to call this control logic, which Seat even further embellishes. The submenus of the touchscreen infotainment fan out in an even more labyrinthine manner, and the digital instruments can be sorted even more fiddly using the steering wheel buttons. Unlike the Scala, the Leon has the almost legendary miserable tactile slides for heat and volume control.
Not just loud, but a well-modulated strength is the handling of the Leon. Its steering reacts sensitively, but not exaggeratedly, does not gossip about feedback, but passes on the most important things in a concise manner. All of that goes great with the chassis. With gentle basic tautness, it combines high driving safety and exhilarated handling, in which the Leon only late in harmless understeer scrubs.
Which brings us to an end where no building blocks will be amazed if Leon wins. Because – you guessed it – he has the most on the kit.
You're floored, because the Leon brings the most with it: space, comfort and driving pleasure. But also the most confused service. Enough to win despite poor equipment.
Top in platform: Although on a simpler basis, the everyday clever, affordable, spacious Scala makes it difficult for the Leon. Snappier brakes, firmer handling - the Scala would be first.
Low German: Despite the international platform, the lively Astra with lively handling feels very much like Opel. Class brakes. A little high: price and consumption.