What is it?
The Skoda Kodiaq is the Czech brand’s already big-selling large SUV, and it’s first seven-seater.
Seven seats – wide petrol/diesel engine range, spacious on compact footprint
Skoda has made a very good job of its first ‘proper’ SUV, the Kodiaq fulfilling the brief in all of the important areas – practicality, quality and refinement. It offers surprising space for its ‘estate car on big wheels’ exterior visuals, boasts lots of clever touches and includes enough powertrain options to meet the shift among buyers in favour of petrol.
The Skoda Kodiaq is regarded as the Czech brand’s most important new model for some time. It is the brand’s first large SUV, and its first seven-seat car of any sort, and has kicked off an SUV offensive, quickly followed by the smaller Karoq and with more to come.
In just over a year since launch, the Kodiaq has done exactly what its makers expected of it – and more. Global sales passed 100,000 in its first eight months on sale, and it has secured an impressive haul of industry awards to boot.
However, the Kodiaq is not so easy a car to pigeon-hole. The model shares its platform with others of the recent rash of VW Group compact SUVs, such as the SEAT Ateca and the Volkswagen Tiguan. In terms of perceived size, however, the newer Karoq more directly takes on such in-house rivals.
The Kodiaq is more obviously up against such seven-seat challengers as the Nissan X-Trail and Kia Sorento. One could even suggest, with Skoda trying very hard to move itself upmarket, that the Kodiaq could rival the Land Rover Discovery Sport.
The one major difference between the Skoda and its larger rivals? Very few of them offer petrol engine choices at a time when diesel sales are sliding, whereas the Kodiaq range includes three petrol options.
In terms of styling, the Kodiaq fits the brief. There is nothing radical here, but a solid, purposeful car that looks every bit as worthy of consideration as the ever-growing number of rivals in the market. In fact, its visuals are more estate car on big wheels than SUV, while not lacking the elevated driving position that buyers of SUVs covet.
Buying and owning a Skoda Kodiaq
The Skoda Kodiaq can easily deceive – as mentioned, it looks a big car both in terms of exterior visuals and space when one slips into it. But this is a compact SUV, built on the very clever Volkswagen Group MQB platform which both makes the most use of interior space and saves weight.
This is not, despite the image portrays, Skoda’s largest car. It’s shorter than the Superb saloon, and only a little longer than the Octavia family car. Park a Sorento alongside and the Kodiaq will sit in its shadow, but again, once inside the difference is not so much – this is the SEAT Ateca layout but with the Volkswagen Passat wheelbase and therefore space.
It’s increasingly relevant to talk about petrol engines and our test car boasts the mid-level 1.4-litre petrol unit with a six-speed automatic gearbox and front-wheel drive.
This version is also available in all-wheel-drive with either the auto or a six-speed manual, while the other petrol choices are a 125hp version in front-wheel drive and six-speed manual and a 2.0-litre petrol, 4WD with 180hp and a seven-speed version of the auto box.
Diesel engines still make a lot of sense for many users, however, and Kodiaq buyers have four choices. They comprise a 150hp with a six-speed manual gearbox and 4WD, the same engine with the seven-speed auto in both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive versions, and a range-topping 190hp version with automatic gearbox and 4WD.
When the Kodiaq launched, there were plans to add an entry-level 115hp diesel, but whether this will still happen in the current climate remains to be seen.
No faulting the Kodiaq’s safety systems – these include autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian recognition as standard, and the car earned a top five-star rating when tested by crash tested by Euro NCAP.
Our test car is to SE L specification, the fourth of what are now seven trim levels available to Kodiaq buyers, from the entry-level S starting from £22,630 up to the flagship Sportline version starting from £33,135. Also included is a Scout model, aimed at those who are more likely to leave the tarmac in their 4×4 and boasting such extras as ‘off-road’ bumpers.
Our SE-L includes such niceties as satellite navigation, cornering LED fog lamps, an electric boot, parking sensors, keyless entry and adaptive headlamps.
Inside the Skoda Kodiaq
A great deal of the Skoda Kodiaq’s popularity is no doubt due to the space inside – it’s a very roomy SUV whether you are sitting in front, middle or even back. Surprising is the plentiful headroom, considering the estate-car exterior appearance.
Okay, the two individual rear seats are not for adults on long journeys and are set rather low, but they are not that cramped either and when they are up the boot is still big enough to be usable – significantly more so than seven-seater rivals.
Fold the rear seats flat into the floor and what’s left is a big boot of 720 litres. Fold the middle seats too and you have a flat, square space of more than 2,000 litres.
The Kodiaq’s second-row seats also slide by up to 18cm, which adds lots of flexibility. SUVs are supposed to be practical cars and the Kodiaq definitely ticks all the boxes in this aspect.
There is not a lot to describe about the driver’s surroundings because what is on offer is thoroughly conventional VW Group fare. Of course, that also means it is all sensibly laid out and well screwed together – today interior quality on Skodas is a given.
This reviewer likes VW infotainment systems, and let’s face we see enough of them, thanks to a clutch of recent newcomers from SEAT and VW itself alongside the new Skoda models.
One can tell a lot from the quality of satnav graphics and the Kodiaq’s are easy to programme, clear to view and reliable, presented on a big nine-inch screen. And all the latest tech is available, from smartphone integration and wireless charging to integrated wi-fi.
Our version also includes plenty of those ‘Simply Clever’ features that Skodas boast and many other models should. Additions such as the umbrellas that pull out of the door panel and the boot light that unclips to become a rechargeable torch are minor additions but no less delightful for all that. As are the little plastic protectors that leap from the edge of the doors as you open them, ensuring you don’t scratch your car’s (or other’s) paintwork in tight car parks.
Driving the Skoda Kodiaq
Initially, it feels odd driving an SUV, a large one at that, without the low-down torque and pulling power one gets with a diesel engine. Of course, that option is available in the Kodiaq range whereas the petrol power of our test car is not currently an option with several of the Skoda’s rivals.
The 150hp engine is by no means outclassed, however, making the most of the light Kodiaq weight compared to rivals and in our case the poundage savings of doing without an all-wheel-drive powertrain.
The car feels sprightly, accelerates crisply and quietly with slick shifts from the auto transmission. It gets to 62mph from rest in under 10 seconds, which is plenty fast enough for most owners.
On the motorway cruise, the Kodiaq is a very well-behaved machine, oozing refinement. This is particularly true if you have a reasonably full cabin – the extra weight of additional occupants helps to dampen the effects of potholes, but at all times the suspension does a pretty good job of smothering all but the worst road surfaces.
Of course, this is not a car to attack a series of challenging B-road bends in, but then again it’s not meant to be. Corner with enthusiasm and the Kodiaq will let you know with some body roll. However, it is all very predictable and controllable, the steering well weighted and precise in action.
Overall, the Kodiaq’s road manners will not excite. But they will relax, making the eating up of long distances a process without fatigue – it’s no surprise the car is doing well on the fleet market.
For its first ‘proper SUV’ (the just-departing Yeti was an SUV, but a pretty one-off type), Skoda has done a very good job with the Kodiaq. The car ticks all the boxes that such models need to – it’s practical, roomy to a degree that belies its actual size and boasts impeccable road manners, making it an easy car to live with.
The Skoda Kodiaq offers most things its rivals do plus some extras several of them don’t, including, perhaps fortuitously, a sufficient range of petrol engines. As the bedrock of the Czech brand’s SUV offensive, the Kodiaq is set to establish itself as one of the most popular models in a Skoda showroom.
|Make & model||Skoda Kodiaq||Land Rover Discovery Sport||Nissan X-Trail|
|Specification||SE L||SE Tech eD4||N-Connecta|
|Price (on-road)||£30,015 (range starts £22,630)||£31,185 (range starts (£28,400)||£31,575 (range starts £28,355)|
|Engine||1.4-litre petrol||2.0-litre diesel||1.6-litre diesel|
|Power||150 hp||150 hp||130 hp|
|Torque||250 Nm||380 Nm||320 Nm|
|0-62mph||9.8 sec||10.6 sec||11.4 sec|
|Top speed||122 mph||112 mph||111 mph|
|Fuel economy (combined)||44.8 mpg||60.1 mpg||53.3 mpg|
|CO2 emissions||143 g/km||123 g/km||139 g/km|
|Euro NCAP rating||5 stars (2017)||5 stars (2014)||5 star (2014)|
|Country of manufacture||Czech Republic||United Kingdom||Japan|
|TCE rating||8.0 / 10||Not yet tested||6.5 / 10|