In my review of the Seat Leon Cupra a couple of weeks back, I talked about the success of the VW Audi ‘flanks’. Skoda has also been giving us some fantastic cars recently. The Octavia vRS is like a Golf GTi for grown-ups. The Superb Sportline had a marvellous cabin full of alcantara and is available with a punchy 280PS petrol engine. I would. So what about their large SUV? Well, it’s called the Kodiaq, and you may well have seen Sir Bradley Wiggins promoting it on the television. Available with 5 or 7 seats and a host of engines – from a 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine up to a 2.0-litre TDI diesel – there’s something to suit everyone. I opted for a Kodiaq Edition, with a mid-range diesel. All that was left is to see if it was any good…
Looks – 8/10
On the outside, the Skoda Kodiaq has a large frame, but some clever styling cues ensure that is still looks executive. At the front, the ridged bonnet, angular cornering lights and streamlined headlights create a sleek image. The side profile benefits from 19-inch alloy wheels (on the ‘Edition’ model) along with silver roof rails, a chrome window surround and a prominent line which runs from headlight to taillight. Privacy glass adds a premium feel, whilst the plastic arch surrounds nod to the Kodiaq’s off-road capabilities. At the rear the taillights are crisp and pointy. A subtle spoiler frames the rear window to three sides. The Kodiaq looks great parked outside the local shops, and really has an executive air about it.
Step inside, and the executive feel continues. All 7 seats of my ‘Edition’ test car were finished in black leather with contrast white stitching. The finish on the dashboard is a dark, almost black wood; which was a really nice feature and more interesting than a simple gloss black. Admittedly, some of the plastics are a little on the cheap side – mostly on the door cards and lower parts of the dashboard – but I can forgive this as the overall feel is still one of quality. You even get an umbrella which stows away inside the front doors: how neat is that!? In the centre of the dashboard is the 8-inch touchscreen multimedia unit, with an interface familiar to any VW/Seat/Skoda drivers. The instrument cluster is minimalistic, with simple black and white dials and a trip computer screen in the middle. But by being simple they feel classy. Lastly, the light headlining stops the cabin feeling too dark: it’s a lovely place to be.
Handling/Performance – 5/10
My test car was fitted with a 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel engine. It was the lower power version, putting out 150PS and 240Nm of torque. Sent to all four wheels via a 6-speed manual gearbox, it hardly provides electrifying performance: 0-62mph takes 9.9 seconds and the top speed is 121mph. By today’s standards that’s slow, and you really feel it from behind the wheel. There’s no urgency. More importantly, a large SUV should waft along with ease. Personally I’d go for a more powerful engine – either the 190PS diesel or 180PS petrol – and a DSG gearbox for a smooth, effortless drive. With the manual you really have to work the gears to get the most out of the engine, and this removes some of the premium feel generated by the styling.
The Skoda Kodiaq rides well. Being the ‘Edition’ model my test car featured 19-inch alloy wheels, but was still extremely comfortable even on bumpy B-roads. As you might expect for such a tall car, there is some lean in the corners, but with the 150PS engine you’re never going fast enough to even care. The 4×4 system gives a sure-footed drive, whatever the conditions. If you opt for the Dynamic Chassis Control system the suspension has comfort and sport modes to match the engine, and this can be used to give that extra bit of comfort on the motorway. One good thing about the Kodiaq is that you can adjust the weight of the steering, and if you choose the heavier ‘sport’ setting it has a great feel to it.
Economy – 9/10
What the 150PS diesel Skoda Kodiaq lacks in oomph it makes up for in efficiency. Despite being a large, 7-seat SUV this engine will return 51.4mpg on a combine cycle. A six speed gearbox, Eco drive mode and start/stop technology help to save fuel. CO2 emissions are 144g/km, which means first-year VED of £200, and then £140 thereafter. Keep the cost of your car below £40,000 – and that’s relatively easy with the Kodiaq – and you’ll avoid the ‘expensive car’ surcharge. One little grumble I do have is that the lack of power means you need to drive harder to make progress, and this can seriously dent the real-world economy figures.
Practicality – 10/10
If you need a versatile family car, then you need look no further than the Skoda Kodiaq. It is available in both 5 and 7-seat variations. My test car was the latter, and I was impressed at how easy the third row seats were to operate. Best suited to children, they fold flat when not in use to maintain a level boot floor. Impressively there is still room for a few shopping bags or a buggy even with all seats in place, highlighting the Kodiaq’s vast interior. Fold them away, and you could fit a rugby team in the boot. The middle row fold and slide to provide easy access to the back. Being the ‘Edition’ model my test car was fully loaded, with standard equipment including blind spot detection, dual-zone air conditioning, electrically-operated tailgate, ‘KESSY’ keyless entry and start, lane keeping assist, rear parking sensors and wireless charging capability.
Fun – 8/10
It is refreshing to see Skoda making properly interesting cars, and there are now several in the range I would happily own. The Kodiaq would be the car of choice for all those family adventures: whether that be a trip to Center Parcs – with the bikes on the roof and the dog in the boot – or the airport run with all the luggage that comes with it. The point is this car will never come unstuck. It has 4×4 capability, looks great in a car park and never feels out of place. Your friends will be impressed with the quality and will complement the interior. The only factor letting the Kodiaq down is a lack of engaging drive. There are more powerful models available, and with the new Sportline trim for 2018 there is a bit more appeal to the keen drivers, but for me I’d be just as well with a Superb estate. Plus I could have that with a 280PS engine…
Despite the enviornmentalists running around telling us that 4x4s are no good, we still keep buying them. And after spending a week with the Kodiaq I can absolutely see why. This is a car that appears sleek and stylish, despite its large frame. It’s comfortable, and hugely practical. From the school run to the family holiday, you could do it all. And best of all, the Kodiaq is reasonably priced. Prices start from £22,625. Even a top of the range Sportline 4×4 DSG is £37,120 which I think is great value for money. Some people may be put off the Skoda badge, but I urge you not to be. Why not head over to the Skoda website, or see your local dealer. The Skoda Kodiaq was a pleasant surprise: charming and delightful.