Skoda has steadily built up a reputation for creating spacious, reliable, well-built, value-for-money cars.
It’s no surprise then that the company is now turning its attention to SUVs – the fastest-growing sector today – and applying its USP.
If you don’t count the quirky Yeti, the Kodiaq is Skoda’s first foray into the crossover market, and it certainly makes a memorable first impression. It’s enormous.
At 4.69 metres long, 1.88m wide and 1.67m high, it definitely has road presence. Add Skoda’s signature clean-cut lines, and it’s a substantial, yet stylish package.
Step inside and it’s a similar story. A no-nonsense, yet attractive design, bags of space front and rear, plenty of storage spaces, a huge boot (720 litres or a best-in-class 2065 litres with the rear seats folded down).
But here’s the thing, the Kodiaq also has two seats folded flat in the boot which can be easily flipped up, transforming the SUV into a people carrier.
At first glance, they seem fit only for small kits, but push the middle row forwards and it’s possible for adults to sit in the rearmost seats too.
And though passengers in seats 2, 3 and 4 haven’t quite got the limo-like legroom they had before, it’s perfectly bearable.
So, the Kodiaq is a triumph of packaging and it’s offered with a range of petrol and diesel engines, and four-wheel-drive, if specified.
But with diesel getting a bad press, more buyers might be tempted to choose the smaller petrol model – the 1.4 TSi.
At first it seems incongruous to have such a small engine in a relatively big car, but the punchy unit develops 150PS and is capable of propelling this beast up to 62mph in 9.7 seconds and on to a top speed of 122mph.
Paired with a six-speed DSG auto box in my test car, it’s surprisingly lively and refined, and with three drive modes (Normal, Eco, Sport) there’s no doubt that the DSG is best suited to the latter setting because its gear changes aren’t always the best timed, especially if you put your foot down in the other modes.
That said, take it easy and the gearbox is fine. Better still, cruise on motorways and flowing roads and it’s a delight.
My other reservation would be that with a full complement of passengers and luggage, the 1.4 turbo petrol engine might struggle at times, so if you’re considering this spec, go for a test drive armed with volunteers and head for the hills.
Obviously, engine choice will also affect economy, so if you rack up the miles on motorways, maybe a 2.0 diesel option might be for you. This engine (with 150PS and 190PS outputs) returns up to 57mpg, whilst emitting CO2 emissions of 131g/km.
The 1.4TSI is good for a claimed 44.8mpg with CO2 emissions of 143g/km, and I certainly managed close on 40mpg on a range of runs. There’s another 180PS 2.0-litre petrol engine, which is swift, but only returns up to 38mpg.
It’s also worth mentioning that the 1.4TSi utilises Skoda’s Active Cylinder Technology (ACT) which shuts down the second and third cylinders when the load and engine speed are low.
The Kodiaq handled well for a big SUV as long as you don’t try to drive it like a hot hatch.
It’s bulky and it will pitch and roll slightly if pushed too hard into corners, but generally it’s stable, comfortable and relaxed.
Select Sport mode if you want to make more rapid progress and the suspension will firm up a little, but it’s not hard to forget that you’re driving a big SUV.
I drove an SE L spec car which is near the top of the range and is likely to be the most popular choice.
The S and SE are well equipped themselves, but the SE L adds full LED lights front and rear, drive mode select, seven seats, black alcantara upholstery, heated front seats and an excellent 9.2-inch infotainment touchscreen with Columbus navigation.
The Kodiaq is safe too. Euro NCAP awarded it a maximum five stars in crash safety tests, achieving a 92% rating for adult protection and 77% for the way it protected child occupants. Standard automatic emergency braking across the range also impressed, while other driver aids including Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Assist, Blind Spot Detect, Emergency Assist, Traffic Jam Assist and Traffic Sign Recognition are also available.
Starting at £28,650, it’s some way off the £22,190 Kodiaq base price, but it’s still good value.
And, of course, it comes with Skoda specialities we’ve come to expect, including umbrellas in the front doors and an ice scraper behind the fuel flap, plus a removable LED flashlight in the boot.
Verdict: The Kodiaq is another superbly packaged, solid car from Skoda. Go easy with the options and you could end up with a huge amount of SUV for your money from a company which is making a habit of topping customer satisfaction surveys.
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