Skoda Kodiaq

Skoda's first SUV is one of the best

7.8
wowscore
This is the average score given by leading car publications from 5 reviews
  • Superb build quality
  • Hugely practical interior
  • Seven-seat option
  • Stiff ride with big wheels
  • VW Tiguan has more tech
  • Top-spec diesel noisy
 

£22,945 - £34,895 Price range

 

5 - 7 Seats

 

38 - 56 MPG

Review

The Skoda Kodiaq is the Czech company’s first seven-seater midsize SUV and a reason to worry for rival models such as the Nissan X-Trail, Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento.

Why? Well, anyone who has followed Skoda over the past few years knows the company’s been pumping out class-leading, and very competitively priced models with frightening regularity – the Fabia, Octavia and Superb are perfect examples of this – so expectations are high for the Kodiaq.

And it doesn’t disappoint. Much like the aforementioned models, its interior offers a perfect blend of rock solid-build quality, smart design and brilliant practicality. The interior boasts a 6.5-inch touchscreen that grows to eight inches in higher model lines, a class-leading boot capacity – roughly 150 litres more than rivals – and the all-important option to specify seven seats.

The firm’s strong DNA can also be felt in the way the Kodiaq drives. Its offers a superb balance between comfort and composed handling characteristics, and feels solid on the motorway. Models with larger wheels have a firm ride that’s at odds with the rest of the car and all have light steering that makes them easy to manoeuver but a little nervous on the motorway.

The engine range covers all the bases, too. It is an even split of three petrol and a trio of diesel units. The smallest, a 1.4-litre petrol, is offered with either 123 or 148hp while a more powerful 187hp 2.0-litre version is available. The most popular option will probably be the 2.0-litre diesel engine. Offering 113, 148 or 187hp, the mid-range tune is the one to go for because it provides perfectly adequate performance and fuel economy of up 56.5mpg.

‘Adequate’ would also sum up the Kodiaq’s standard equipment levels, with even basic S models getting air-conditioning, split-folding rear seats, the aforementioned 6.5-inch infotainment system and automatic emergency braking. Tow assist – a system that can autonomously reverse the car when fitted with a trailer – and adaptive cruise control are optional extras across the range.

As with any Skoda of recent year, the build quality in the Kodiaq is beyond reproach, and the layout itself is arguably Skoda’s best effort yet. The overwhelming material quality is up to the high standards set by the Superb – we’re talking Audi levels here – and those vertical air vents are not too different to those in the upmarket Volvo XC90.

But start poking around the lower reaches of the interior and some harder plastics belie the fact that Kodiaq costs quite a lot less than the VW Tiguan and Audi Q5.

What can’t be found fault with is the way the Kodiak’s cabin is presented – all the controls are logically laid out, so the first place you look for something is, nine times out of ten, exactly where you’ll find it. A stress reliever when you’re trying to set the climate control just right with a rabble of kids screaming behind you.

Skoda Kodiaq infotainment

The Kodiaq’s infotainment system comes with a 6.5-inch display as standard and can be supplemented with Skoda’s SmartLink system. It includes a Bluetooth phone connection, plus Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink, so apps from your phone – for services such as navigation and music streaming – can be run via the car’s big screen.

One step up from S to SE trim gets you a larger eight-inch screen with a microphone feature that can play the driver’s voice through the rear speakers – so kids in the back can hear you loud and clear, even if they won’t admit it.

Meanwhile, SE L models get the top-of-the-range Columbus system, which includes SmartLink as standard and also adds a built-in hard drive and DVD player. Just like Audi and VW, Skoda offers a Phonebox feature that can not only charge your phone wirelessly but also boost its signal using the car’s built-in aerial.

Skoda Kodiaq passenger space

The Kodiak looks big, but it’s only a few centimetres longer than a Skoda Octavia Estate so it’s not inconveniently large. The distance between the front and rear wheels, known as the wheelbase, is identical to the VW Passat, so four adults will be more than happy to stretch out.

The standard seats are comfortable, but they don’t shine in any particular area. The top-spec leather chairs, on the other hand, can be heated, ventilated and power adjusted. Standard on all models is a sliding middle row of seats that split 60:40 by pulling on a small strap.

What differentiates the Kodiaq from its VW Group siblings is that it can be equipped with two extra seats for £1,000. Don’t think of the Kodiaq as a fully operational seven-seater (such as the Volvo XC90), though, the spare seats are only really suitable for kids or small adults.

Skoda Kodiaq boot space

The Kodiaq comes with a generous 720-litre boot with five seats in place – fold all but the front seats and the load bay grows to a cavernous 2,065 litres. The front passenger seat can be tucked away, too, allowing you to safely stow items up to 2.8m long – without having to leave the boot open. Seven-seater models lose around 100 litres in capacity, but still have more load-lugging potential than the Nissan X-Trail (550-1,982) and Hyundai Santa Fe (585-1,680).

The practical touches don’t end there – mid-spec SE models come with two umbrellas hidden in the doors, an ice scraper incorporated into the fuel filler cap and luggage dividers that velcro to the boot floor. Optional is an electrically operated tailgate that you can open hands-free by waving your foot under the rear bumper. An electrically retractable towbar is also on the options list letting you tow up to 2,500kg – on par with the best rivals.

The Kodiaq strikes a good balance when it comes to offering comfort and agility. Well, ‘aglie’ might be too strong a word, but for a car of this size, the big Skoda suffers from little body roll even if you power through corners quickly. More important is the cosseting ride, which you get in all but 19-inch wheeled models. It shields passengers from big bumps and broken road surfaces, with only smaller high-frequency jolts catching the chassis out.

For the full buttery-smooth experience, you can spec up the Adaptive Dynamic Chassis Control that allows you to choose from either Comfort, Normal or Sport driving modes. The system alters the response of the car’s shock absorbers, stiffening or relaxing the ride as instructed. A dedicated off-road mode is available on four-wheel drive models if you’re feeling particularly adventurous.

Road and wind noise are just a faint hum at motorway speeds while, provided you keep it from revving too much, the mid-range diesel engine is smooth and refined. The petrols are even quieter, but they use more fuel, offsetting the benefits.

The Kodiaq is offered with a six-speed manual gearbox or an all-new DSG automatic. The most powerful petrol and diesel engines come with four-wheel drive and a seven-speed DSG ‘box, however, all but the most basic model can be specified with both at extra cost. Less powerful versions get front-wheel drive and a manual gearbox.

Skoda Kodiaq petrol engines

If you want the cheapest Kodiaq possible you’ll have to settle for the entry-level 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol. Producing 123hp it struggles with seven people on board or when you’re using the 2,000-litre boot to its full potential. You’ll also have a challenge on your hands to get decent fuel economy, but if you cover few miles it’s cheap price will make sense.

The 148hp version of the 1.4-litre is also available, but you have to move up from S to SE trim – spending about £4,000 in the process. With the added power, the small petrol feels quite eager and cracks 0-62mph in a little over nine seconds.

The top-spec petrol is all-new for Skoda. With 187hp it should be powerful enough for most buyer’s needs (0-62mph takes 8.2 seconds), but it also has the highest running costs in the range.

Skoda Kodiaq diesel engines

Ignoring the stigma surrounding VW Group diesels, there’s little reason why the 2.0-litre shouldn’t become the bestseller in the range. Available in three power outputs, 113, 148 and 187hp, it is strong and, uncharacteristically for a diesel, doesn’t mind being revved out, even if the most-powerful version is a bit too noisy.

The 148hp is all you need with combined fuel economy of 56mpg and CO2 emissions of 131g/km for annual road tax of £130. Those are impressive figures for what is, after all, a seven-seater midsize SUV weighing more than 1,500kg. The 9.8 second 0-62mph time isn’t class leading, but you’ll never feel the Kodiaq’s underpowered thanks to the healthy slug of torque available from low down in the rev range.

Should you desire more pull, there’s also the 187hp version of the same 2.0-litre, but it’s a bit brutal in its delivery, and because it’s four-wheel drive only, performance isn’t that much better than the 148hp engine with two-wheel drive.

The 113hp version joins the range after launch and, although it will be cheap to run, it will also feel pretty slow, especially when the car is loaded with people and luggage.

The Kodiaq is aggressively priced against rivals and equipment levels are good, too. The only downside is Skoda’s standard three-year warranty, which is a massive seven years down on what you get with a Kia Sportage, although it can be extended by two years at extra cost.

Skoda Kodiaq S

Basic Kodiaqs come with a 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system, 17-inch alloy wheels, air-conditioning, keyless engine start and LED running lights, so cover all the bases most families need to be covered. The only problem is that S models are five-seaters only, and can only be had with the entry-level petrol and diesel engines.

Skoda Kodiaq SE

SE models let you choose the larger engines and can be equipped with seven seats, they look like the trim to go for as a result. Additional over basic spec includes climate control, with two temperature zones; rear parking sensors, rain-sensing wipers and headlights that operate automatically. The boot gets practical features such as luggage nets and the exterior benefits from larger 18-inch wheels.

Skoda Kodiaq SE L

If you want your Kodiaq to feel more luxurious, SE L trim gets Alcantara suede upholstery, and the larger eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system, with a wi-fi hotspot and real-time traffic updates. There’s more – the wheels are now 19-inch, the front seats are heated and a drive select system is also standard.

Skoda Kodiaq Edition

Edition models represent the very best Skoda has to offer, adding electrically adjustable front seats, a colour display between the dials, lane-departure warning, a blind-spot monitoring system, chrome roof rails and auto-dipping headlights. Phonebox wireless charging is also standard.

Conclusion

If you’re in the market for a car of this size, the Kodiaq should definitely be on the shortlist. At a glance it doesn’t amaze you with a futuristic interior like the Peugeot 5008, nor does it feel as agile on the move as a Seat Ateca.

However, when the time comes to buy a washing machine you get the one that does the job and not the one with the most flashing lights or the shiniest drum. The same is true of the Kodiaq – as a first entry into the midsize SUV class for Skoda it doesn’t try to do anything differently, but instead excels in the areas that matter for family car buyers.

Things such as passenger space, practicality, cheap running costs and ease of use are where the Kodiaq proves its worth. And, the 20,000 people that, says Skoda, registered their interest even before the car was launched shows the company hasn’t lost its talent for creating a buzz.