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Driven: Skoda Kodiaq Scout. Image by Skoda.

Driven: Skoda Kodiaq Scout
An off-road-specific version of a large 4x4 vehicle? How does that work, then?

 



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Skoda Kodiaq Scout

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

Good points: It's a Skoda Kodiaq, so it's bloody brilliant...

Not so good: ...but why would you pay two grand more than the blinding regular model for some silver skid plates?

Key Facts

Model tested: Skoda Kodiaq Scout 2.0 TDI 190 DSG 4x4
Price: Kodiaq starts from 22,625; Scout from 32,765; 2.0 TDI 190 from 36,330; car as tested 38,170
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel
Transmission: all-wheel drive, seven-speed DSG automatic
Body style: five-door, seven-seat SUV
CO2 emissions: 151g/km (VED 500 first 12 months, then 140 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 49.6mpg
Top speed: 129mph
0-62mph: 8.8 seconds
Power: 190hp at 3,500-4,000rpm
Torque: 400Nm at 1,750-3,250rpm

Our view:

Let's get something clear straight out of the blocks - we absolutely adore the Skoda Kodiaq. It is, save for the much-more-expensive Volvo XC90, the best seven-seat (or 5+2) SUV you can buy. Apart from driving like a hot hatch on stilts, a feat which it doesn't achieve, the Czech company's big bear of a machine does everything else you could possibly want or need it do so utterly brilliantly that you fall for its charms within mere seconds of making its acquaintance. Quietly composed and supremely talented like so many of its Volkswagen Group cousins, the Kodiaq nevertheless wins the day because it lacks for any sort of unpalatable pretension or aura that you're trying to improve your social status by buying one, which is not necessarily true of various Audi and Volkswagen machines. Not for no reason do we give the Kodiaq five stars - it's exceptional.

However, the faint tang of pretentiousness hovers around the Scout model. Here is an off-roading version of a 4x4 SUV. Now, that's a hard concept for us to get our heads around. Surely the standard Kodiaq, with its elevated ride height and its four-wheel drive system and its powerful diesel engine, is perfectly able in the rough stuff? Moreover, Skoda is positioning the Scout as more of a trim line, rather than a standalone variant, with the specification fitting between SE L and Edition at the top of the Kodiaq's tree.

But it's 2,755 more expensive, model-for-model, than an SE L, according to Skoda's website. Base price, it's 2,295 more than that top-marks Kodiaq 190 4x4 we drove in 2017. Heck, it's even 655 more than an Edition range-topper, which is bizarre. And what you get for your money, as far as we can see, are silver scuff-plated bumpers front and rear, a diffuser at the back, silver door mirrors, 'Scout' badges on the front wings and Crater Anthracite 19-inch alloy wheels. Inside, the Alcantara seats, with Scout logos on the headrests, are very nice, as are the wood-finish dashboard and matching door inserts, but aside from the further additions of a 'Scout' console plaque, aluminium pedals and LED ambient lighting, that seems to be your lot. There's no extra equipment, per se.

Skoda is adamant that the Scout is better in tougher terrain, because it has a 'rough road package' with an engine guard and an underbody stone guard, while the 'Off-Road' mode in the drive settings and Hill Descent Assist (HDA) make certain it is sure of foot in all... hold on, wait a second; the standard SE L version has Off-Road mode and HDA. And, come on, let's be honest, buyers of this sort of SUV are about as likely to venture off into the wild blue yonder as they are to shop at Lidl instead of Waitrose. So, er... so what, precisely, is the point of the Kodiaq Scout?

And that's why we must dock it half a star overall. We just don't think the Scout is worth the price premium. Oh sure, it does everything as magnificently as any other Kodiaq - it'll burr up and down motorways with epic noise suppression and wonderful comfort, it'll potter about town like it's a Fabia thanks to a set of perfectly calibrated controls, and its cabin is as spacious, pleasant and intelligent as any seven-seat SUV has a right to be. If this was what the Skoda Kodiaq was like as standard, with its skid plates and underbody protection and wood trim, then we wouldn't hesitate to give it full marks. There's nothing wrong with it mechanically, as it were.

But having to pay extra for a few visual gewgaws, over and above the exceptional skills of the regular Kodiaq, just seems like... well, it seems a tiny bit pretentious. We understand the Scout trim on cars which aren't off-roaders in the first place, like the Octavia, but the Kodiaq is absolutely fine just as it is. You don't need to go Scout to get the best from it.

We're still giving it four-and-a-half out of five, though, because when all's said and done, the Scout is a Skoda Kodiaq - and it's therefore markedly superior to almost all the alternatives you'll get at this sort of price point; therefore neatly proving the adage 'the bigger a Skoda, the better'.

Alternatives:

Hyundai Santa Fe: About to be replaced, but it's a fine machine with attractive looks. Lacks the Skoda's refinement and the 2.2-litre diesel drivetrain isn't quite as slick as the Kodiaq's 2.0 TDI.

Kia Sorento: We drove the Scout to the revised Sorento's launch, which is one of the Skoda's nearest challengers, but, excellent as it is, the Kia has just a bit too much tyre roar compared to the Kodiaq.

Nissan X-Trail: Even with the 177hp dCi engine and revised looks/interior, the X-Trail simply isn't as premium-feeling or nice to drive as the Skoda.


Matt Robinson - 9 Mar 2018









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







 

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