Skoda Kodiaq 2017

£ 25.445

The new Skoda Kodiaq was classified by many magazines the best car for big families.

We tried the heartland Kodiaq, the middling power 148bhp diesel manual 4×4 version, complete with a healthy dollop of tech and toys, and concluded it’s a stress-relieving utilitarian winner. And no, I’m not about to rip up that rhetoric.

But could there be hidden gems in the Kodiaq family? Unsung heroes which are smarter buys than the default middle-of-the-road/brochure diesel? Seeking answers, we subjected a more basic Kodiaq to the same scrutiny. To qualify for that headline £21,495 in entry-level S trim (with five seats, and no option to pay for seven), you’ll end up with a petrol-powered 1.4 turbo version.

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For £25,455, you get another 25bhp and a pub fact. Because this is a VW Empire car, we’ve come across this motor before, in Golfs and A3s. Its party trick is deactivating two of its cylinders at cruising speed, effectively halving fuel consumption when you’re on low-demand torque. The good news is the narcolepsy of half your engine is imperceptible to the ears.

The better news is it’ll actually achieve the notably unambitious 41.5mpg claim. Read into that humility what you will… The issue is that this motor feels a tad weedy when asked to shift a large (if relatively light) bus with just one human on board. And if you’re buying a Kodiaq, you’re likely to be transporting several humans of varying sizes and almost certainly in a hurry for climbing lesson/ band practice/the match with the boys.

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Enter the athlete among Kodiaqs: the 189bhp version of the familiar 2.0 turbodiesel, offering a walloping 295Ib ft to all four wheels via a standard-fit DSG gearbox. It’s a less grumbly powerplant than the grouchy “why did I have to get detuned” 148bhp version, and besides the largely irrelevant 8.6sec sprint to 62mph, its in-gear pace is seriously healthy. A closet vRS? No, not a bit of it – the Kodiaq is far happier at a more relaxed lick, and a less heady price.

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You’ll save £2,400 going for the Gold ilocks-spec mid-range diesel, and that’ll go a long way to upping the toy count in what is a superbly executed, spacious, intuitive cabin. Besides, Skoda CEO Bernhard Maier confessed his accountants are looking at the business case fora Seat Ateca Cupra-fighting Kodiaq vRS. The Kodiaq is so versatile, it could probably carry that off too.

SPECIFICATION:

1395cc 4cyt turbo, 148bhp, 184lb ft

41.5mpg, 141g/km CO2

0-62mph in 9.4secs, 122mph

1551kg

VERDICT:

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There’s no such thing as a bad Kodiaq. But the smart one to opt for is the one slap bang in the middle of price and power.

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