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Review: Skoda Kodiaq

Driven September 2017

Review: Skoda Kodiaq

Let’s get right down to it. How great is the Kodiaq? It’s pretty damn good! It’s a pretty great package altogether and if Skoda play their cards right, we can see a lot of other SUVs getting nervous. But the bigger question is why the Kodiaq is so great. Let’s dive in…

Styling and features
It’s typically Skoda. Head-on, it’s got great presence on the road and some very interesting styling bits. We especially like the sculpted bonnet that has the shut lines hidden away in the body lines. It’s a handsome SUV and has all the typical Skoda design touches. The taillights are still styled in the C-shape, the grille is in the family style and the bootlid gets the usual creases and lines. At almost 4.6m, it is a long car. But it never feels overly large and in fact it only aids in the space inside.

The cabin itself is quite large and airy. The massive sunroof lets in large amounts of light and the light coloured leather adds to the sense of space. The design is again from the family handbook and you’ll find many bits and pieces that you’ll also find in other Skodas. The dash layout is a bit different and it now gets a secondary glove box on the passenger side. There is massive amounts of storage space between the two glove boxes, the sender armrest storage box and various cubby holes for all passengers.

For India, the Kodiaq will only get the seven-seater configuration. The last row, as is usual isn’t for long road trips, but will seat two in relative comfort. The second row is great for two, but three is a bit of a stretch. The second row reclines and slides so room isn’t a concern for passengers. It also gets a separate climate zone which, together with the two up front, makes for three zones in the whole car.

The Kodiaq’s trump card to us is its impressive list of features. A lot of clever bits make for some really nice additions. For example, Skoda uses a simple system that boosts your speech through the onboard mic and sends it to the rear speakers so oh don’t have to yell at highway speeds. It also gets a power nap package that gives you two auxiliary headrest on the side of the regular one that you can deploy to rest your head and keep it from bobbing around. It also gets a total of nine airbags, which is more than most others in a segment higher.

There is also all the other Skoda bits like Mirror Link, CarPlay, Android Auto, inbuilt SatNav, cornering lamps, secondary collision avoidance systems, ABS, EBD, driver fatigue alert systems, automated all-LED headlamps, automated wipers, an automated boot lid, automated parking, a massive panoramic sunroof and a kickass music system from Canton.

Ride and handling
The Kodiaq is a large SUV. There’s no denying that. But what’s interesting is how well it hides its heft. For something this large, there isn’t a lot of body roll. It can handle itself very well around corners and while you do feel the momentum, the car never gets bent out of shape. In fact, we were surprised at how it never understeered even at higher speeds. But what this car does best is glide at highway speeds on straight highways. The operative word here is glide because that is exactly what the Kodiaq does. And with the impressive NVH, you can almost not tell that the car is moving. The ride quality is impressive. While the setup itself is stiff, it remains super absorptive of everything our roads can come up with.

The steering is light and easy to use in traffic while in the ‘Normal’ driving mode but weighs up nicely in ‘Sport’. The feel itself is nice and direct and the Kodiaq never hesitates to change direction. In fact, for a large SUV, turn is very quick. Almost Octavia-level quick.

Engine and performance
India only gets the 2.0 TDI that makes 148bhp and 340Nm of torque. There is also only the 7-speed DSG on offer, but in the latest avatar as the DQ500. The engine itself develops its peak torque right from around 1750rpm and keeps at it till 3000rpm making for a nice meaty spread. And with the super refined, quick shifting gearbox you can never feel at a loss for power. Mash the throttle down in any gear and the progress is quick. And in most highway overtakes, the engine doesn’t even need to downshift to pass other cars.

The car gets four driving modes – Eco, Normal, Sport and Snow. There is also an additional Individual mode that lets you set the car up in the way you prefer. The various modes give you different throttle maps, ECU maps, steering weight and four-wheel-drive setups. The four-wheel-drive system is from Haldex and delivers around 96% power to the front wheels in Normal mode. There is no four-wheel-drive lock button like a lot of the other cars we’ve seen, but that’s mostly down to the fact that the system never goes into 100% FWD.

The Kodiaq isn’t a car for serious off-roading and what hinders it is weight and lack of clearance more than anything. But considering Skoda already has taken it up to Khardung La and Wari La without a hitch, that too on the international spec 19-inch wheels, we don’t doubt its rough road capabilities. Just don’t expect RFC level stuff from it. Everything else the Kodiaq will oblige to happily.

As we said before, the Kodiaq’s NVH is really quite impressive. The combination of excellent acoustic insulation and the silky smooth gearbox leaves you with an eerie sense of calm in the cabin. With some light footwork, the Kodiaq really does glide. The shifts in the ‘box are both seamless and quick – both up and down. The torque comes in a nice gentle wave, and there is a lot of it too. And despite all of it, Skoda claims it’ll deliver 16.25kpl.

The Kodiaq is a lovely car. The highlights for us are the impressive list of features and the refinement. And at the same time, it also does pretty much everything else that you would expect of it well. It has been priced at Rs 34.5 lakh for the sole Style variant that's on offer. It's tremendous value considering some other SUVs in the same price bracket don’t deliver as much space or features.

2.0-litre turbodiesel, 7-speed DSG, 148bhp, 340Nm

Ashok George

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