Skoda Kodiaq SportLine 1.4 TSI 4x4
The Kodiaq SportLine is the most viasually-appealing in the range. Unfortunately there are no exciting engines to give it the punchy performance it deserves, and the Kodiaq’s stature makes for somewhat comical handling. But when you’re not trying to be a racing driver, this is a vastly practical family car with 7-seats and serious kerb appeal. And for those wanting proper sportiness; the Kodiaq vRS is imminent.
It has been almost a year since we first drove the Skoda Kodiaq. When we did so, there was no sporty model. Now there is the Kodiaq SportLine; the car you see here.
Think of this as the Skoda Kodiaq in its running gear. This is the most visually-appealing model in the range. It has an incredible amount of kerb appeal, especially when finished in stunning Velvet Red Metallic.
At the front end, the grille surround is black, and the lower grilles are a honeycomb design. The sleek headlights incorporate LED daytime running lights. Below these are more angular cornering lights. The overall shape of the bumper is more aggressive.
20-inch grey/polished turbine alloy wheels are needed to match the enormous silhouette. The window surrounds and roof rails are black which, along with the plastic edging to the arches and side skirts, offers contrast to the body colour. Look closely and you’ll notice the SportLine badging.
The side of the tail lights is a fantastic piece of design, featuring a criss-cross pattern. This looks especially effective in dusk with the lights on.
At the rear, the Kodiaq SportLine takes a more sleek approach. The lights may be angular, but the body and bumper lines are softer than the front. The flash of honeycomb is a nice sporty touch.
There are no actual exhausts on show, but there is a silver trim which gives off a similar appearance. Equally subtle is the rear spoiler, which you could miss if you weren’t looking closely enough. It’s body-coloured at the top and black at the side which makes an effective combination.
The sportiness isn’t just limited to the exterior either. The Kodiaq SportLine applies the tried and tested recipe of bucket seats, leather, alcantara and carbon-look trim.
The front seats are a triumph. Huge, sculpted numbers with leather edging, quilted-alcantara centre and contrast white stitching. With a fixed headrest and prominent shoulder support they really look the business.
There are two finishers in the cabin; a carbon-effect plastic on the dashboard and door cards, with gloss black plastic elsewhere. Although not real, the carbon-effect stuff is pretty pleasant.
In front of the driver is a flat-bottomed steering wheel with perforated leather and contrast white stitching. The dials are a relatively simplistic black and white. It would have been good to see a digital instrument cluster to bring the Kodiaq SportLine in line with other VW-Audi Group models.
As a Seat Leon driver, the centre console layout is familiar. But it’s logical and easy to operate, so why fix what isn’t broken?
Another familiar feature on the Kodiaq Sportline is the keyless entry and start system. It’s practical, but the location of the start button – on the steering column – is just wrong. It doesn’t have the premium feel the Kodiaq deserves, and that’s a shame.
LED ambient lighting, on the door trims, finishes off the cabin nicely. You can customise the colour to suit your mood; we went for red to match the car’s striking exterior.
If you were hoping that this section would be as emotive and thrilling as the styling, you’re in for disappointment. Because the engine, on paper at least, is rather underwhelming.
It’s a 1.4-litre**, turbocharged petrol unit that produces 150PS and 250Nm of torque. In a small hatchback that would be ample. But this is a large, 7-seat SUV. The resulting 0-62mph time of 9.9 seconds and top speed of 121mph are not exactly exciting.
And yet, the Kodiaq Sportline is rather good to drive. Unlike the diesel we tried last time (also with 150PS) the petrol engine is rev-happy and rewards being worked hard. The 6-speed manual gearbox is more engaging than a DSG, adding to that exciting drive.
Don’t be too put off by that 0-62mph time either. The Kodiaq Sportline has a kerb weight under 1,600kg. So once on the move, if you push the engine and gearbox hard, the Kodiaq actually feels nippy.
In truth, a car like the Kodiaq Sportline deserves more oomph. It has the looks, so should have the performance to match. There are enough interesting engines in the Skoda parts room to make that happen.
At the very least, a bit more theatre would have helped set the SportLine apart from the standard Kodiaq. Something like a sound symposer to enhance the engine note, or a more throaty exhaust.
Skoda has now launched the Kodiaq vRS, which boasts 240PS from a twin-turbo diesel. So there will be a Kodiaq with serious performance very soon. We’ll have to test one to see if it is exciting to drive as a gutsy petrol…
**Since we tested the Kodiaq SportLine, the 1.4 TSI has been replaced by a 1.5 TSI with the same power. The only difference: it’s only available with a DSG.
In a straight line, it’s easy to find yourself wanting more power from the Kodiaq SportLine Get to a corner, and you’re glad it only has 150PS.
With its tall frame, the Kodiaq doesn’t lend itself to proficient handling. There’s far too much lean through the corners, and it all but kills the exciting drive.
Again, Skoda has the equipment in its armoury to help the issue. Dynamic Ride Control (adaptive damping) would have really helped. It would enable a comfort setting when driving normally but a firmer setting for more spirited drives, to improve cornering stability.
One expects that Skoda will have solved the shoddy handling on the Kodiaq vRS. We’ll have to wait and see on that one.
Thankfully, there are some positives to report. The front seats are wonderfully-supportive. So much so that they alleviate some of the cornering woes. Unfortunately, there are only two of them, so passengers on the middle and third rows will still suffer.
Get away from the twisty B-roads and on to the motorway, and you’ll find the Kodiaq pleasant and comfortable, making it a great companion for a family road trip.
It’s also worth mentioning that despite only having a small petrol engine, the Kodiaq SportLine still has the option of a 4WD system. That means that there is always enough grip to use ever last drop of power.
It also means that unlike some small-engined “SUVs” it does what it says on the tin. Come rain or snow, it will get the family where it needs to be.
The reasonably-low weight combined with a small engine make the Kodiaq SportLine surprisingly efficient.
The little 1.4-litre petrol engine is packed with fuel-saving technology. It is capable, for example, of shutting down two of its cylinders under minimal throttle.
You also get start/stop technology, and the drive mode selection includes an ‘Eco’ preset. This eases the throttle response and makes the air conditioning sap less power from the engine.
The results can be seen in the figures. This large, 7-seat SUV with 4-wheel drive returns 40.9mpg on the combined cycle. It’s also easy to get close to this figure in the real world, which was a pleasant surprise.
CO2 emissions seem a little high at 156g/km. But in truth it doesn’t make a huge impact for private owners. First year VED is £515 which is included in the ‘on the road’ price.
The list price of the Kodiaq SportLine with this engine is sufficiently below £40,000 that the VED surcharge is no danger. Subsequent years’ VED is therefore fixed at £140, which you can’t grumble about.
As cars go, you’ll struggle to top the all-round practicality of the Skoda Kodiaq. And the Kodiaq SportLine loses none of the standard car’s versatility.
It has seven seats, making it ideal for a large or extended family. The middle row is spacious enough for adults to sit on a long journey. The third row is best suited to children due to limited leg room. As a 5ft7in adult it was possible to sit back there; it just wouldn’t be comfortable on a long drive.
The boot is plenty spacious too. Even with all 7 seats in situ, there is enough space for a few shopping bags: 270 litres to be precise. Fold away the rearmost two seats and that becomes a cavernous 720 litres.
The visibility from the elevated driving position is great For the most part, the Kodiaq SportLine doesn’t feel as big as it looks. The exception to this is when you get to a car park, where the spaces suddenly feel tighter.
Despite its small size, the 1.4-litre TSI engine has strength. With a 2,000kg braked towing capacity you’ll be able to tow your caravan, race car or boat, making that family adventure possible. And even with 7 people in the car it will still make progress, albeit not as quickly as a more powerful engine could.
The Kodiaq SportLine is a great car to live with, and you will probably never find something it can’t do. Throw in the great looks and this is a car you could be proud of having on the driveway.
As one of Skoda’s flagship models, the Kodiaq receives a generous standard specification; even in base ‘SE’ trim.
We’ll start with the safety kit: important for keeping the family safe. The most prominent system is the front assist with autonomous emergency braking. In the case of an accident, the Kodiaq also cuts off fuel supply and auto-releases the doors.
For comfort, you get dual-zone climate control, privacy glass, ample interior storage, and even an umbrella in each of the front door panels.
All models have a touchscreen display with DAB radio, USB and SD card connectivity, Bluetooth and SmartLink+ (Apple CarPlay and Android Auto).
The SportLine trim builds on this specification, adding further creature comforts. It has full LED headlights with LED fog/cornering lights. The front seats are heated for those cold mornings. An electrically-operated tailgate saves you exerting energy once you’ve loaded the shopping.
A keyless entry and start system (KESSY) means you’ll never need to get your key out of your pocket again.
The 8-inch standard touchscreen is replaced with a 9.2-inch display which features Columbus satellite navigation and integrated Wi-Fi.
Inside you get sports dials, LED interior light pack, aluminium pedals, a black roof lining and an electrically-adjustable driver’s seat with memory function.
Throw in a few SportLine badges inside and out, the black styling exterior touches and those stunning 20-inch alloy wheels and you have an impressive package.
Value For Money
So we’ve established that the Kodiaq SportLine is a great looker, reasonably-engaging to drive, surprisingly economical and has a great specification. So you’d probably imagine, as we did, it comes at a price.
The Kodiaq range starts from a very reasonable £25,770. There are various engines and trims, right up to the mighty vRS at £42,870.
As we mentioned earlier the 1.4 TSI is no more. Its replacement, the 1.5 TSI DSG, starts at £35,270. Given the DSG gearbox adds £1,300 the price is only a slight increase on the one we tested.
In truth the standard car, especially in SportLine trim, probably has more than enough equipment to meet your needs. If you do want a little bit more, then there are options available to make your Kodiaq extra special.
There are some reasonably-priced ones too. Heated middle row seats are £205. A virtual pedal for the electric tailgate is £195. A rear-view camera is £385. Adaptive cruise control is £305.
Other more expensive options include the panoramic sunroof at a whopping £1,175. An area view camera with lane assist and blind spot detection is £2,160.
All things considered, the Kodiaq SportLine is great value for money. For such a well-equipped car with 4WD and 7-seats it’s priced very reasonably. Even with a few options on it you’re well below £40k.
The only down side is the relatively small engine. But given that the handling isn’t worthy of driving any faster, you really don’t need any more power. Unless of course you want to go the whole hog, and get the vRS…
Facts and Figures
|Engine||1.4-litre, 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol|
|Max power||150PS at 5,000-6,000rpm|
|Max torque||250Nm at 1,500-3,500rpm|
|Drivetrain||6-speed manual gearbox, four-wheel drive|
|Fuel tank size||60 litres|
|Fuel consumption||40.9 mpg, combined cycle|
|CO2 emissions||156 g/km|
|Kerb weight||1,583 kg|
|Towing capacity||2,000kg braked / 750kg unbraked|
|Luggage capacity||270 litres (7-seat mode) / 720 litres (5-seat mode)|
|NCAP rating||5 stars|
|Price as tested||£34,825|