Skoda’s first ever seven-seater – and it’s a peach!
The Skoda range has been crying out for something bigger for quite a while. The Czech brand has showed the world that it can pull off daring models like the Yeti crossover and even luxury ones like the Superb saloon.
And on paper, Skoda’s first ever seven-seater should be a home run. There’s five or seven seats on offer, a strong engine line-up, two and four-wheel drive availability, a smart interior and, thanks to its huge frame, oodles of practicality. It also boasts an entry-level price of just £21,500.
30,000 people have already registered their interest in the Kodiaq so it looks to make a big splash when it officially launches in the UK. But can it really topple its vast SUV competition?
There are just two power outputs to choose from with the Kodiaq’s sole 2.0-litre TDI diesel offering - 148bhp and 187bhp - although you can choose between two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive as well as manual and automatic transmissions. We tested the 2.0-litre TDI 148bhp 4x4 six-speed manual.
Power wise, this engine does the job and more. There’s 340Nm of pulling power under foot, it has a 0-62mph sprint time of just 9.5 seconds and it will happily rein things in and potter about town with ease. Specifying the six-speed manual gearbox gives you greater control over that power too, allowing you to slowly feed power in by squeezing the accelerator.
The seven-speed DSG automatic is an excellently smooth transmission, but it’s so smooth and refined that it can be difficult to feel your way through the rev range – and with the DSG it is incredibly difficult to tell the difference between the 1487bhp and the 187bhp variants. It’s great for cruising and day-to-day driving, but the manual is the better choice for those looking for an involved drive.
Ride and Handling
The Kodiaq feels like a big SUV - there’s no doubt about it. It leans a fair bit in the corners and spacing on country lanes can be tricky at times. But once you start getting a feel for how it handles itself on the road, you can start turning up the enthusiasm - and the Kodiaq will happily oblige.
Yes, there’s body roll, but it never feels like it’s going to come unstuck, with plenty of grip on offer and steering that is a tad on the light side but responsive enough to egg you on. And in fact, the more you drive it spiritedly, the smaller its burly frame begins to feel. It’s not as eager to corner as a BMW, but it makes up for that with comfort.
And speaking of comfort, the Kodiaq’s suspension effortlessly takes the grunt out of even the biggest bumps with ease. The only slight downside is that the ride can get a little bouncy when driving over waves of undulations.
For most of us though, the school run and motorway driving will be the Kodiaq’s key habitat - and things just get better in this department. Whether it’s negotiating winding urban areas or cruising at 70mph on the motorway, the Kodiaq’s high-riding position and excellent refinement make for a fatigue-free journey.
4x4 models won’t really see the benefit until taking on slippery conditions like mud and ice as the 4x4 system tries to use just two-wheels where necessary in order to save fuel. However, when needed, extra traction can spring into action.
For most of us though, the school run and motorway driving will be the Kodiaq’s key habitat - and things just get better in this department.
Did you know?
The Skoda Kodiaq gets its name from a large Alaskan Brown Bear.
Interior And Equipment
Much like other VW Group products, like the SEAT Ateca, Volkswagen Tiguan and Audi Q3, the Kodiaq’s interior is extremely trim sensitive. Go for the entry level S model and you will be greeted with lots of bare, dark plastic areas that serve as a reminder that you haven’t got the fanciest model on offer.
Even the SE trim we tested looked a little sparse in terms of kit, although it did feature the likes of cruise control, rear parking sensors, an eight-inch touchscreen system and dual-zone climate zone. Seven seats are a £1,000 option on SE models and upwards.
The SE L trim (expected to be the bestseller) is definitely the one to go for if you are after a more luxurious feel, with a plethora of chrome highlights added which help mitigate many of its dark plastics. Seven seats also come as standard on SE L models.
Regardless of trim though, everything is logically laid out and easy to operate, even on the move.
Space in the cabin is ample for both driver and passenger, with plenty of head and leg room as well as copious amounts of storage compartments. Many of Skoda’s “Simply Clever” practicality solutions shine through too - over 30 of them in fact - with things like cup holders that allow you to open a bottle with one hand.
The rear is even more impressive with tons of room to seat three easily, giving you enough leg room to recline like a luxury saloon, and enough head room for six footers to sit straight-backed. We tested the five-seat model, but even with an additional two seats, rear passenger space in the middle row is among the best in class.
The five-seat model has greater load space than the seven-seater though, with a total of 2,065 litres on offer with all the seats down, or 720 litres with the seats up.
Going for the SE 2.0-litre 148bhp 4x4 model with the six-speed manual gearbox doesn’t quite get you the low-price tag you might expect, clocking in at £27,300. In fact, as five-seater SE models go, it is one of the most expensive.
Still, for what you get for that price, it is great value for money and extremely competitive against VW Group rivals like the SEAT Ateca and Volkswagen Tiguan - as well as other competitors like the Kia Sorento and Nissan X-Trail.
Running costs are impressive too with a claimed average of 52mpg – which isn’t totally inconceivable, especially if you are prone to long motorway stints. CO2 on the other hand is quoted at 141g/km, which for company car drivers means a 30 per cent BIK tax rating for 2017/2018.
It is great value for money and extremely competitive against VW Group rivals like the SEAT Ateca and Volkswagen Tiguan - as well as others like the Kia Sorento and Nissan X-Trail.
With the sheer number of SUVs on sale now, big and small, you get used to the idea that you’re probably going to have to compromise on some level, be it comfort, style or quality. The Kodiaq shows us that that doesn’t always have to be the case.
Not only does it manage to tick all of the important ‘lifestyle’ boxes, it’s also different enough to its sister models to proudly stand alone with its own unique appeal.