We’re now three months in Skoda Kodiaq ownership and it’s fair to say it has become something of a long-distance/big job specialist.
The latter of those two skills sets was tested last month when news editor, Russell, helped a friend with odds and ends leftover from a house move. With the Kodiaq having a hard-won reputation for extreme practicality – it seemed like its honour could only be upheld if it managed the job in one trip. It did of course, and the job itself was made a joy by the Kodiaq’s well-thought-out design. The huge boot opening meant it was easy to load everything from paintings to house plants and the low load lip and flat floor meant there was no issue sliding the two heavy TVs we had into place. Putting the back seats down is also a cinch – they fold down from the front of the boot and collapse into place without needing any persuasion. The Skoda’s excellent design is clear even when you’re not putting it to work on big jobs, the hooks in the boot are very handy for keeping shopping from spilling over and if you get caught in the rain, you’ll find there’s a handy umbrella stored away neatly in the door.
The latter was called into action when cameraman, Brad, was caught in a shower when he took the Kodiaq to Buxton. A 300-mile round trip is something the Kodiaq does exceptionally well. Set in its softest suspension setting it’s 20-inch alloy wheels soak up bumps and potholes with ease at a fast cruise. And the motorway is somewhere the Kodiaq feels most at home – it’s active cruise control means you can set your top speed and leave the car to worry about braking when traffic slows down in front of you – obviously, its best to have your foot hovering over the brake pedal, just in case.
The 190hp diesel engine also enjoys motorway work, for a kickoff, it’s a lot less clattery than it is in town. It’s also blessed with decent mid-range shove – once the gearbox has worked out which cog it wants, at least – that makes it easy to sail past slower moving traffic. Our car’s engine probably has a fair bit of loosening up to do, too, so the 40mpg we got at a ‘fast’ cruise over 400 miles is still extremely respectable in a car as large and un-aerodynamic as the Kodiaq.
And, while the Alcantara leather might not be to everyone’s tastes (see below) others find the material less sticky in hot weather than conventional leather, and the comfortable seats themselves make for a welcome relief on a long journey – particularly if you have spent the week having your butt clenched in, say, a new Ford Fiesta ST.
It’s no use testing a big, practical SUV by driving it down a twisty country road – after all, what does that tell you about how easy it is to live with? Instead, we’ve taken a brand-spanking new Skoda Kodiaq on a weekend road trip to Cornwall.
On the face of it, the Kodiaq should be the perfect car for the job. Our SportLine model comes with a 2.0-litre diesel engine and an automatic gearbox which make an ideal pairing for long motorway slogs. The diesel is reasonably quiet when you accelerate down a slip road and has no trouble keeping up with fast-moving traffic. Our car hasn’t been run-in yet, bet even before it’s reached the magic 1000-mile mark (after which engines tend to use a little less fuel) we managed 45.5mpg compared to Skoda’s claimed 49.6mpg.
The automatic gearbox changes gear smoothly at speed but it can be slightly jerky when you’re parking – a common issue with double-clutch DSG gearboxes. SportLine cars also come with paddles on the steering wheel to let you choose when to change gear yourself, but besides changing down in advance before overtaking slow-moving cars it’s easier just to leave it in automatic mode and let the car do its thing.
Cars in SportLine spec also get adjustable suspension that lets you choose between (supposedly) sporty setups or more comfortable settings. We’d recommend leaving it in comfort mode – firmer setups highlight bumps and potholes without really making the Kodiaq feel any more nimble. This is especially obvious on poorly maintained Cornish country lanes.
Its unsettled nature isn’t helped by the huge 20-inch alloy wheels fitted to our test car – they look great, but they contribute to the SportLine being a little less relaxing to drive for long periods than less sporty versions. They’re also pretty easy to scratch on tall kerbs – thankfully, something we’ve managed to avoid so far.
Other things we’re not so keen on are the fake carbon-fibre trims you get on the dashboard. These might look good in a stripped-out sportscar, but in a tall family SUV they feel completely out of place. The same goes for the Alcantara trim on the doors and roof and, to a lesser extent, the flat-bottomed steering wheel.
Look past these incongruous items, however, and the Kodiaq’s cabin is impressively practical and a doddle to live with. There’s space in the rearmost seats for a six-foot-tall adult – for short journeys between the campsite and the beach, at least – and the boot’s large enough to easily swallow a tent and a few large bags if you fold the third row down.
Flip all but the front seats down and there’s space for two adults to stretch out, and even sleep, in the back of the Kodiaq – something you can’t say of most traditional family cars or even many boxy MPVs.
So far, then, the Kodiaq’s excelled as a long-distance cruiser and a surprisingly comfortable caravan substitute, but how will it deal with the rigours of carrying massive boxes of camera equipment for the carwow video team? Stay tuned to find out…
What can we say that hasn’t already been said about the venerable Skoda Kodiaq? It is, without a shadow of a doubt, our favourite family SUV thanks to its combination of handsome looks, brilliant build quality, superb practicality and excellent choice of frugal engines. In fact, we even rate it more highly than the Volkswagen Tiguan (VW owns Skoda) – and that’s definitely not supposed to happen!
That we chose the Kodiaq shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, but we chose this particular model with good reason – to showcase Skoda’s new, top-of-the-range Sportline trim level. Being our benchmark family SUV, there’s a steady flow of Kodiaqs coming in and out the doors at carwow towers, but even we were impressed by how much more striking the Sportline model looks.
Especially in our car’s bright Velvet Red metallic paint, which makes it pop like a candy apple. The Sportline’s styling pack also includes a blacked-out grille, sporty front and rear bumpers, side skirts, Sportline badges and a set of huge 20-inch alloy wheels. Even the inside gets a makeover – out goes the fabric interior you’ll get in basic models and in comes luxurious Alcantara upholstery complete with bucket seats up front.
We didn’t skimp on the powertrain, either – we went for the 190hp 2.0-litre diesel with a seven-speed, DSG automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive.
And we didn’t stop there, in fact, we didn’t really stop at all until all the must-have options were ticked. That’s 15 ticks! We covered kit such as high-beam assist, lane assist and blind-spot monitoring, electric heated front seats, adaptive cruise control, a heated windscreen, panoramic sunroof, park assist, a 360-degree camera, upgraded Canton stereo and adjustable dampers. Just over £7,000 worth of options!
And the result? Well, we have one of the plushest Skoda Kodiaqs on the road and an extremely happy video producer because it’s Sam that’ll be the lucky custodian of the Skoda for the next few months.
And what does Sam have to say about her new wheels? Well, she loves the Skoda’s 360-degree parking cameras – the Kodiaq’s many things, but small and nimble to park is not one of them. She also loves the adjustable Dynamic Chassis Control, which gives the Skoda its pillow-soft ride, its active cruise control – that can accelerate and brake the car automatically – and the fact that it can return 45mpg fuel economy without breaking sweat.
And the things she doesn’t like? Well, they’re pretty thin on the ground but, with Sam regularly shifting bulky camera equipment, we might have been better off with the five-seat model that sacrifices its spare pair of chairs to make way for extra boot space.
All in all, though, we’re genuinely smitten with our Kodiaq and we’ll be going into much more detail why in the coming months. We’ll be updating this page monthly so – if you’re toiling with the idea of getting a Kodiaq – bookmark this page and get an idea what it’s like to live with straight from the horse’s mouth.
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