Skoda Kodiaq – An Impressive Luxury SUV That Offers Incredible Value

RESENTING THE KODIAQ, Skoda’s brand-new flagship, which is also the company’s first seven-seat SUV. It sits above the impressive Superb sedan, on which it is based, and at an expected Rs 27-35 lakh, will take on big SUVs like the Toyota Fortuner, the upcoming Tiguan and the Hyundai Santa Fe. Skoda has had some experience with SUVs -thanks to the Yeti which won lots of critical acclaim – but sadly not a lot of commercial success herein India. The Kodiaq promises to deliver on space, comfort, luxury and good looks, all at a competitive price. Time to find out how impressive this Skoda is.

Skoda’s brand-new range topper, and its first seven-seat SUV

What’s it like on the outside?

Stretching the tape at 4.7 metres, the Kodiaq is quite a big car – it’s just that it doesn’t look its size. In fact, it actually manages to look quite athletic for something that’s this tall, wide and long. This is down to the SUV’s edgy’ design that makes use of strong lines and sharp angles, which help cut down the car’s visual mass. It’s quite handsome too, sharing a lot of its styling elements with the Superb.

Up front, you get the big Skoda ‘butterfly’ grille which is flanked by slit-like full-LED headlamps. Below that, there are the cut-crystal-like fog lamps sitting in the front bumper which also houses a wide air dam. Even the rear looks quite smart with its wraparound tail-lamps which are similar to those on the Superb sedan. What’s also nice is that Kodiaq’s chunky 18-inch alloy wheels and fat, high-profile tyres, add to its butch appeal.

What’s it like on the inside?

Step into the big, plush front seats and you’re greeted by a dashboard that’s befitting of an SUV. It’s nice to see that Skoda has given the Kodiaq a unique dash layout, instead of simply reusing the one from the Superb sedan, which would have been easier and also cost-effective. The dash looks nice, chunky and well put-together, and features soft-touch materials, tall vertical AC vents and well-damped controls.

Sharp design masks the Kodiaq’s size and makes it look athletic.

The passenger side gets two big glove boxes, with the top one nicely concealed behind a slab of textured trim. If you’ve sat inside a Volkswagen or a Skoda, you’ll find the controls for the AC, the steering wheel and all the switchgear to be familiar.

A highlight here, however, is the big eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system that comes on higher variants; base variants are likely to get a smaller 6.5-inch unit. It uses touch-type buttons instead of physical ones. The infotainment system also doubles up as a display for the surround-view camera, which is a useful tool when parking such a big car.

It also comes loaded with Android Auto, Apple Car Play and Smart Link, which mirrors your smartphone screen on the infotainment display. The impressive list of features also includes a large panoramic sunroof, wireless phone charging, a three-zone climate control, on board Wi-Fi connectivity and park assist (it steers the car by itself into a parking spot).

From behind the wheel, the Kodiaq feels like a high-riding Superb.

You can charge your mobile devices via a 12V socket, USB and even a 230V plug. There’s even a host of clever features like a magnetised torch that you can stick onto the car, say, in the event that you need to change a punctured tyre at night; a powered tailgate that opens up when you wave your foot under the rear bumper, and retractable rubber protectors that keep the doors from scuffing when you open them in tight spaces.

The back seat is the one many owners are likely to use more, and it’s quite a comfortable place to be. There’s ample space all around, and you’ll never be wanting for legroom. But it’s nice to know that you can slide the bench fore and aft, in case you feel like stretching out. The third row is a bit tight on space, but sliding the middle row forward by even a small amount liberates quite a lot of kneeroom here. However, this space is more useful with the seats folded down, where you get a nice 630-litre boot. Fold down the middle row and the boot can gobble a massive 2,065 litres worth of luggage.

What’s it like to drive?

The Kodiaq is likely to be introduced with the option of two engines, a 180hp 2.0-litre turbo petrol and a 1.50hp 2.0-litre diesel. A stronger 190hp version of the 2.0-litre diesel could also be on the cards later. Both the petrol and the diesel engine will come with the option of a six-speed manual or a seven-speed automatic gearbox, while the top-end model will get four-wheel drive. The smooth and refined petrol engine is quite punchy, making this SUV quite fun to drive. Despite weighing nearly 1.7 tonnes, it is pretty quick too, completing the 0-100kph sprint in a claimed 8sec flat.

The last row of seats is tight on space; it’s best left for small kids

We tested the petrol fitted with Volkswagen’s smooth and quick-shifting seven-speed automatic. The gearbox shifts exactly when you expect it to, and is a good match for the engine. The mainstay in the range, however, is likely to be the 2.0-litre diesel, and the first impression is that it’s impressively refined; in fact the Kodiaq on the whole is very refined The diesel car moves quite smartly off the line, and, although it’s not as quick as the petrol, performance is quite decent; it can dash from 0-100kph in 8.9sec. The automatic gearbox also works quite nicely here; it’s just that the shifts can be felt a bit more in the diesel.

What came as a surprise is that the more powerful 190hp diesel, which we also sampled, isn’t as responsive off the line as the 150hp version, probably because it has a bigger turbo. However, build some revs and the extra power becomes evident, dearly, this is the model that will be better for high-speed cruising.

From behind the wheel, the Kodiaq feels a lot like a Superb on stilts than a high-riding SUV in the manner in which it cocoons you. It’s a lot less cumbersome than big and bulky rivals like the Toyota Fortuner, and there’s impressively little body roll for something this tall. Yes, it does feel a bit unsettled over broken surfaces, but overall, the Kodiaq has a pretty flat ride.

Should I buy one?

The Kodiaq is expected to make it to Skoda showrooms in India by Diwali 2017. At an estimated Rs 27-35 lakh, its price matches that of popular SUVs like the Toyota Fortuner, the Ford Endeavour, and its chief rival, the Hyundai Santa Fe. But what makes the Kodiaq really worth the wait? To start with, its sharp yet imposing looks are sure to be a hit with Indians who like their cars nice and big. It comes with a strong set of engines which have enough pulling power to haul this large SUV effortlessly.

Skoda Kodiaq Interior

Although the features list for the India-bound car remains unknown, looking at how well-equipped Skoda’s cars generally are, it’s safe to expect that the Kodiaq will come with many of the bells and whistles that the test car offered. In all, the Kodiaq is a handsome, practical SUV that, in true Skoda fashion, offers a lot of car for your money. And that makes it completely worth waiting for.

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