Skoda, once styled Surprising Skoda, moves into summer with a large SUV called Kodiaq. It is surprisingly good.
A Kodiaq can seat seven but mine was fitted out with five seats, the VW Group’s 148bhp 2-litre diesel and six manual gears, and 4x4 drive.
Kodiaq is handsome, with prominent cheekbones and broad bony shoulders. It is roomy, with a load length of 180 inches when you fold the seats flat. In length it fits between the Q5 and Q7 from the VW Group. Tailgate aperture and cabin width match the Q5. Kodiaq’s space gain is load length – around 20 inches longer than the much more expensive Q5.
Its underpinnings use the VW Group modular design, used for the Volkswagen Tiguan and Seat Ateca (both shorter than Kodiaq). The Skoda badging and a rather vulgar gloss-black slatted grill distinguish it from Audi’s Mum Truck De Luxe. One knows that Skoda could do a posher front but make it too posh and it could rob sales from Audi.
It’s a dashed sight cheaper, with prices opening at £21,565 for the 123bhp 1.4 TSI petrol five-seater in S trim. Seven seats are offered in SE trim for £24,000.
I had the Kodiaq for a week and several hundred miles and can’t fault it. It is easy to drive and doesn’t do anything alarming if you need to push on. Skoda has planned lots inside the 185-inch length (4.7m). It looks longer. Why is it that such vehicles make me a bit pushy? I fight it. It’s not just me. “It” is apparent in all those SUV drivers who drive like GTI drivers.
Safer to take the Skoda route. “Escape the norm and banish boredom on exhilarating 4x4 family adventures. More ways to rediscover and reconnect with nature,” entreats the presumptive blurb in the showroom brochure.
It implies that “you” (certainly not me) are trapped in “the norm” and bored. That “you” (not me) have lost track of “nature”. It directs the reader to a web link showing a family adventure and “private escape” and let’s the owner “forge your own path”.
In the spirit of the Kodiaq, I took it along a farm access road. It rode the bumps well, was at no risk of being stuck, and impervious to whatever spikes triple-punctured my push-bike a day later.
Kodiaq is offered in S, SE, SE-L and Edition specifications. The 4x4 drive is available from £25,760 on the 148bhp 1.4 SE petrol version. The base S is decently fitted out and has 17-inch alloys, roof rails, pedestrian recognition, digital audio with Bluetooth, air con, keyless ignition.
My demo car was the SE trim with the 148bhp 2-litre diesel unit and 4x4 drive at £27,300. It had 18-inch alloys, lamp washers, cruise control (but not a speed limiter), an audio upgrade with extra speakers, dual zone climate control, rear parking sensors (I prefer a camera), auto lights and wipers, shaded glass. Seven seats were an option.
The SE-L brings 19-inch wheels, seven seats as standard, suedette upholstery, navigation, LED lights and so on. The Edition has leather seats (“may contain some artificial leather”) and the 19-inch wheels which are an option on the SE-L . Oddly, its optional wheel is the one fitted as standard on the SE-L. Bally weird. Oddly as well, the brochure does not mention a rather smart feature. When you open a door a plastic guard appears which shields the door edge to reduce the risk of contact damage with a wall or neighbouring vehicle.
On top of the drive-off price for my test car was £150 for the Trinity wheel design, £755 for Amundsen navigation, £555 for the jungle green metallic paint, £100 for a slim spare wheel and £80 for floor mats, totalling £28,940. There wasn’t anything else needed – other than a desire for a reversing camera. After one nudge I’d also like auto brakes to stop me reversing into things.
The rear seats slide to give additional leg room/luggage space. The front shoulder width is around 57 inches, with a tailgate aperture width of 45 inches and 49 inches diagonally.
The ride quality is decent and fairly economical (see panel). The 235/55 ContiSport tyres soak up bad surfaces. The VW diesel is audible but soothing, and can get the Kodiaq to 62mph in 9.5 seconds and, they say, 122mph.
Verdict: almost a no-brainer if it’s the sort of car you want.