Long-term report: The Skoda Kodiaq shows how clever it really is
The Kodiaq is a seven-seater SUV from Skoda. How does it fare both on and off-road though? Nigel Swan finds out
Skoda is one of those manufacturers that’s definitely on the up. There’s no doubt being part of the Volkswagen family has helped it grow from a company that was the butt of everyone’s jokes to one of the most popular brands in the motoring world.
Now the brand has expanded into 4x4s. Yes, the Yeti was the company’s first proper outing into modern SUV life, but the Kodiaq is a completely different proposition. Where the Yeti was built on an adapted version of the old VW Golf platform, the Kodaiq has been designed as a large 4×4 from the very start, meaning you get the traditional off-roader shape with high ride height more befitting a go-anywhere car as well as that all-important throne-like driving position.
That ride height also means that it’s more capable should you decide to take it a little bit further off the beaten track.
Now, as I’m one of the ‘veteran’ long-term vehicle custodians of the company, I’m no stranger to 4x4s although I’ve never experienced one as a daily runner. One of my previous long-term loans was the Subaru Outback, but, while being a four-wheel drive, it was really more of an extreme estate than a serious mud plugger. Plus, it was a traditional five-seater, unlike the seven-seater Kodiaq we have here.
Outside of work, I’m a huge fan of big off-roaders, whether that’s because I’m overcompensating for the fact I’m five-foot-nine – on a good day, or the fact that they’re so versatile and can be used for so many things, they really are my weapon of choice.
Outside of work, I currently have a 2008 Volkswagen Touareg, before that I had an uber-reliable but uninspiring to drive 2005 Nissan Pathfinder, and that replaced the polar opposite or reliability, but a car I held a lot of affection for, the 2002 L322 Range Rover – which in all honesty spent more time off-road than it did on – and I don’t mean mud-plugging.
Needless to say, as soon as I got the keys to the Kodiaq, I was quite keen to see how far the newest crop of 4x4s had evolved, especially from a brand which was relatively new to the segment.
There’s no doubt that this Kodiaq is quite an impressive piece of kit, and looking at the rest of the Skoda line-up it’s no surprise it offers great value for money. However, this car in particular, does come with a somewhat hefty price tag. Our test model weighs in at just short of £43,400 which is quite a lot in this segment, especially when you look at some of the similarly priced competition.
However, it does come armed with a long list of equipment including keyless entry, satellite navigation, a 9.2-inch infotainment system, electric boot, heated seats and DAB radio. You also get off-roading tech and two extra seats in the already spacious boot. There’s definitely a lot to like about it.
We’ve also gone a little tick happy with the options list too, adding a heated steering wheel (£250), Canton Sound System (£405), dynamic chassis control (£1,010), heated windscreen and washer nozzles (£340), lane assist and blind-spot indicator (£970), panoramic sunroof (£1,185), rearview camera (£385), rear back seat release (£95), space saver wheel (£150) and the highly impressive virtual cockpit (£455).
I think what I like most about the Kodiaq though, is that it seems to be a well thought through car. The designers have thought about potential problems and given solutions to help. For example, the winter has been particularly cold where I live and the car has frosted up on a number of occasions.
But rather than breaking out a bank card to scrape the windscreen, in the fuel filler cap there’s an ice-scraper. In the boot, there’s a detachable torch which helps when rifling through bags in the dark, or in my case looking through kit. There are also lots of homes for things behind the wheel, whether it’s somewhere for your mobile phone, drinks or munchies, all of which are extremely useful considering I spend most of my time on the road.
So far, there’s very little not to like about the Kodiaq. In fact, the only gripe I’ve got – and to be fair it is quite a big one – is that seven-speed automatic gearbox, which is pretty slow to react and doesn’t inspire confidence. On quite a few occasions, I’ve pulled up to junctions or roundabouts and spotted a gap in the traffic and held back from pulling out because I know the gearbox won’t respond quickly enough for me.
There are paddle shifts that can help with overtaking, but again, the shifts aren’t quick enough for more spirited driving. Now I know what you’re thinking, this is a 4×4, not a sports car, and I agree. But if you are a driver who likes to make swift progress and want a Kodiaq, then you do have to adapt your driving style to suit the car.
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