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Driven: Skoda Kodiaq 2.0 TDI 190 4x4 DSG. Image by Skoda.

Driven: Skoda Kodiaq 2.0 TDI 190 4x4 DSG
It’s a portmanteau-ist’s dream but the ‘Skodiaq’ is a thoroughly brilliant SUV debut


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Skoda Kodiaq 2.0 TDI 190 4x4 DSG

5 5 5 5 5

Good points: Smooth ride and drivetrain, interior space, cabin quality, pricing, general driving manners

Not so good: Rear two seats for small children only, DSG is occasionally hesitant at low revs

Key Facts

Model tested: Skoda Kodiaq SE L 2.0 TDI 190 4x4 DSG
Price: Kodiaq range starts from £22,190; SE L 190 4x4 DSG from £34,035, car as tested £37,745
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel
Transmission: all-wheel drive, seven-speed DSG automatic
Body style: five-door, seven seat SUV
CO2 emissions: 151g/km (£500 VED first 12 months, £140 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 49.6mpg
Top speed: 129mph
0-62mph: 9.1 seconds
Power: 190hp at 3,500- to 4,000rpm
Torque: 400Nm at 1,750- to 3,250rpm

Our view:

It's taken a while for the Skoda Kodiaq to arrive. Like sister brand SEAT, Skoda was a little late to the SUV class, with the Czech car maker previously relying upon the Yeti and Octavia Scout to cater for the demands of lifestyle buyers. But now, like SEAT, it has plunged into the SUV world, and it will soon have a wide array of models to choose from, with the plan to offer two or three distinct model lines in the very near future.

But, where SEAT first went for the mid-sized five-seat Ateca, Skoda's kicked off with a larger vehicle in the form of the Kodiaq. It's classed as a seven-seater, although unlike the larger, premium alternatives - Volvo XC90 and Audi Q7 - the Kodiaq's rearmost seats are rather, um, cosy and best suited to small children for short journeys alone. However, like an Octavia or Superb, the space in the middle row of seats of the Kodiaq is enormous; there's a clue to how much is on offer from outside the car - look at the gargantuan length of the Skoda's rear doors in comparison to the fronts.

So, has Skoda made the right choice in trying to maximise practicality, instead of going for the Ateca's slightly more youthful compact dimensions and five-seat layout? Well, our week with the Kodiaq was with practically the flagship of the range. There's no Laurin & Klement trim grade for it as yet, which means SE L is just one step down from the launch-spec Edition specification; below that, S is entry point and SE is level two. Every Kodiaq comes with 17-inch alloys, LED daytime running lights, basic LED rear lights, front fogs, electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors, a three-spoke leather multifunction steering wheel, DAB radio, a 6.5-inch touchscreen with Smartlink+ connectivity, air conditioning, keyless start/stop and Front Assist with a Pedestrian Monitor.

The SE L, though, is plush. Cruise control, climate and four extra speakers are part of the additions for SE grade, but the L also boasts 19-inch Sirius wheels, full LED rear lights and headlights with cornering-function front fogs, black Alcantara upholstery, heated front seats, a powered tailgate, full 'Kessy' keyless entry and go, the Drive Mode select feature, a larger, more attractive eight-inch Columbus sat-nav/infotainment system - and seven seats as standard. Prior to this spec level, those additional chairs are a cost option.

Added to our test car were some sundry bits and bobs, like metallic paint (£555), a space-saver spare wheel (£100), floor mats (£80), an electrically folding tow bar (£850) and then the quite fearsomely expensive (by Skoda's standards) Area View for £3,050. This brings in 360-degree cameras, parking sensors at the front as well as the standard-fit rear items and the Park Assist automated parking functionality. Coupled with the most powerful engine available, the 190hp/400Nm 2.0-litre diesel, and the associated DSG twin-clutch, seven-speed gearbox and four-wheel drive, you're looking at a Skodiaq that's around £250 shy of 38 grand.

Pricey? Perhaps, if it weren't for one thing: the Kodiaq, thus equipped, is absolutely marvellous. There's nothing particularly spectacular about the exterior styling, nor the interior layout (although we're sure a Skoda designer would earnestly tell us that the way the horizontal lines of the fascia pinch in for the touchscreen is reminiscent of the Kodiaq's large, dominant radiator grille), but the bodywork is crisp and attractive in that way all modern Skodas are, while the interior is beautifully put together, ergonomically spot-on and simply a lovely place to spend time behind the wheel.

And, once you get the Skodiaq on the move, you'll be more than happy to while away multiple hours driving it in all conditions. The ride comfort, on fixed-rate springs and dampers and 19-inch alloys, is magnificent; this is one of the smoothest cars to travel in no matter what the road conditions underneath its tyres. On top of this, there must be a metric tonne of sound deadening in the Skoda's nooks and crannies. You'll be hard-pressed to hear anything the engine is doing, even when you gun it, and wind and tyre noise are notable only by their absence. As a cosseting long-distance cruiser, there are few SUVs at any price that are better than the Kodiaq.

It's even pretty good for handling, if not as obviously sharp as the SEAT Ateca. There's quite a bit of body roll in the Skoda, but it's well controlled once the car is at 'full lean', and it doesn't affect the grip levels at all. You can even feel the 4x4 system shuffling torque around when you need it to go rearwards instead of to the front axle, while the steering has a wonderful heft and directness to it. And sure, you could make the argument that you don't need the 190hp version of the 2.0 TDI, as the 150hp version is more than enough for everyday motoring needs, but it's nice to have the extra thump of the engine.

The seven-speed DSG is generally a peach, too, although there are odd occasions - when trying to get out of junctions in give-or-take traffic scenarios - where you can depress the throttle around 40 per cent and the car hesitates as the transmission works out what you want it to do. It's a little bit unnerving, especially if you're trying to take a gap that requires precise throttle control to ensure you don't get a flankful of hard-charging HGV.

Nevertheless, we covered 435 miles in the Kodiaq at an average 45mph, with our economy return of 42.2mpg being deeply impressive for a large SUV like this that's capable of carrying seven. And that leads us to conclude that the 'Skodiaq' is another of the marque's startlingly brilliant productions. It pulls off the usual Czech trick of feeling as premium and upmarket as a Volkswagen in all respects, yet costing considerably less and offering more space and equipment for those lower list prices. Superb as the Volkswagen Tiguan is, the Kodiaq has it covered, and when the seven-seat Tiguan Allspace arrives, it will be even more expensive, so the Skoda wins that battle, too. And as for the seven-seat SEAT SUV, that's not even going to arrive until 2018, so the Kodiaq has the edge there.

Which brings us to the main rivals. The Kodiaq sits in a small group of 5+2 or seven-seat SUVs at a level lower than the XC90 or Q7 we mentioned earlier - we're talking cars like the Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento and Land Rover Discovery Sport. What the Skoda offers is a classier experience in terms of drive, interior finishing and equipment levels than the two Koreans, while being considerably better value than the Land Rover, and a bit more spacious, too. So while we might have waited a long time for a proper Skoda SUV, it was definitely worth holding on for, because - like so many of the brand's current products - the Kodiaq is class-leadingly good, largely faultless and one of the first SUVs you should be looking at if you're in the market for something of this size.


Hyundai Santa Fe: Nice looking and big inside, with lots of toys, but the Skoda feels a little more polished in all departments, even if the Hyundai has the stronger warranty offer.

Kia Sorento: A very similar car to the Santa Fe, the looks of the Sorento are a little more muted, and the 2.2-litre diesel drivetrain that both Korean SUVs use is nothing like as refined as the Skoda's 2.0 TDI.

Land Rover Discovery Sport: Much better with an Ingenium diesel engine and it still has the prestige edge over the Skoda, although you pay a lot for the badging, and it's not as big inside.

Matt Robinson - 21 Apr 2017    - Skoda road tests
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2017 Skoda Kodiaq. Image by Skoda.2017 Skoda Kodiaq. Image by Skoda.2017 Skoda Kodiaq. Image by Skoda.2017 Skoda Kodiaq. Image by Skoda.2017 Skoda Kodiaq. Image by Skoda.

2017 Skoda Kodiaq. Image by Skoda.2017 Skoda Kodiaq. Image by Skoda.2017 Skoda Kodiaq. Image by Skoda.2017 Skoda Kodiaq. Image by Skoda.2017 Skoda Kodiaq. Image by Skoda.


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