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 Sport Line 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. Sport Line 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 Sport Line 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 Sport Line 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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