Extended Test: Skoda Kodiaq Sportline 2.0 TDI 4x4 review

Pound for pound, is this the best seven-seat SUV?

More Info

Specifications

  • Model 2018 Skoda Kodiaq Sportline 2.0 TDI 190 DSG 4×4
  • Engine 1,968cc four-cylinder turbo diesel
  • Power 187bhp @ 3,500rpm
  • Torque 295 Ib ft @ 1,750rpm
  • Kerb weight 1,720kg
  • Towing capacity 2,000kg (braked) / 750 (unbraked)
  • Top speed 129mph
  • 0-62mph 8.8sec
  • Fuel consumption (NEDC lab test) 49.6mpg (combined)
  • CO2 emissions 151g/km
  • Road tax £155 for first year; £450 for years 2-6; £130 thereafter
  • Insurance group 23E
  • Price from £37,450 OTR
  • Price with options£42,750 OTR
  • Options fitted Area View with Trailer Assist and electrically folding tow bar, £2,170; Crew Protection Assist with rear side airbags, £500; Driver Assistance package, £1,260; heated front and rear seats, £205; roller blinds for back doors, £205; tri-zon3 climate control, £305; space-saver spare wheel, £105; roof rack, £190; Skoda roofbox, £360

Test details

  • Test period June 2018 – January 2019
  • Starting mileage 230 miles

July 01, 2018: Introducing the Skoda Kodiaq

Skoda-Kodiaq-20-TDI-4x4-long-term-test-review-by-James-Mills-of-The-Sunday-Times-Driving-7

Skoda has been around since 1895 but truth be told most drivers, at least those in Britain, have only started to take notice of the Czech car maker in the past decade.

Rewind to the ‘70s and 80s, when models like the 130, Rapid and Favorit were the best the company could muster, and the only people found driving them were skint students or communists. The jokes were predictable (What do you call a Skoda with a sunroof? A skip) but they kept car snobs amused.

Then, in 1991, people thought Volkswagen had come up with the greatest gag of all, declaring it was buying Skoda. But executives at the German car company were deadly serious.

Slowly but surely, its cars have improved. And as they have been transformed from laughing stock to award-winning motors, word has spread that, beneath the surface, “they’re all Volkswagens, mate”.

And sure enough, scratch beneath the surface of our new, long-term Kodiaq and you will find the latest Volkswagen Group MQB platform, a clever, modular building block if you like, that underpins everything from the Audi TT to the Volkswagen Tiguan.

This one is the poshest model of the lot, a 2-litre diesel in 190PS trim with four-wheel drive, the DSG automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive, finished off in the rather racy looking Sportline trim. In other words, it’s the sort of car that a driver with a history of owning Audis, BMs or Volvos might consider switching to.

Sure enough, after announcing on social media that I’d be reporting on the ‘Koda, two friends said they were thinking of buying one – to replace a Nissan X-Trail and Volvo XC90 respectively.

It’s not only the car’s size and seven seats that endear it to harried parents. The Kodiaq is priced to span the middle ground between big-sellers like the Nissan Qashqai and posher SUVs, such as the XC90. And it’s a formula that appears to be winning over the middle classes.

Can it win over me, though? More importantly, can it win over my family? Before the Skoda, I ran a seven-seat Renault Grand Scenic, and that made for an excellent hold-all.

With three children, two dogs and a horse, the Kodiaq is going to be worked hard. Can it withstand the abuse of the little people in the back seats? How comfortable are the rearmost pop-up seats? Is the boot big enough for dogs and shopping? Will it be left breathless when challenged with towing a horse trailer with Shergar aboard (okay, Capito)?

It will also make for an interesting comparison with Driving’s Lexus NX300h. The hybrid petrol-electric SUV is similarly priced, more stylish but not as practical. From time to time, I’ll be swapping between the two with my colleague, Will Dron.

I take credit for the way this Kodiaq looks particularly easy on the eye. I requested the Sportline spec as it removes all chrome trim and replaces it with black finish for the window trim mirrors and roof rails – a neat trick that makes it look lower.

It includes subtly sportier front and rear bumpers, 20in Vega alloy wheels and Sportline badging on the wings, finished off in my choice of Business Grey metallic paint, a boring name for a good colour that sets off the Sportline model nicely.

Inside, there are sports seats, the sort you’ll find in a Golf GTi or R, with Alcantara trim and diamond-effect stitching, a flat-bottomed sports steering wheel and racier dials and pedals. It’s interesting how just those few things can elevate the ambience of the interior from – I’d argue – premium economy to business class.

However, potential Skoda Kodiaq buyers beware…

If ordering a Kodiaq in this spec, be mindful that with a list price of £37,450, it doesn’t take much ticking of the options list to tip the total price over £40,000, raising the road tax bill to £450 in the second to sixth years of ownership.

This one’s got Area View with Trailer Assist and an electrically folding towbar, additional airbags in the back, a driver assistance package, heated front and rear seats, tri-zone climate control (so the driver, front seat passenger and those in the back can all set their own temperature and fan speed) and blinds for the rear windows. I also added a space-saver spare wheel, roof rack and roof box – essential equipment for a big family. That lot took the price to £42,750

Also, because its diesel engine emits 151g/km of CO2, it misses a lower tax bracket by just 1g, meaning the first year’s road tax is £515 instead of £205.

First impressions have been that the car is creating the right impression. The number of comments that it attracts on the school run – from prospective Koda drivers to converts – has been remarkable.

Watch this space for regular updates – and if you drive a Kodiaq, do share your experiences, both good and bad, in the comments, below.