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

Updates

 

July 1, 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.

August 2, 2018: How does the Kodiaq compare to premium rivals?

Skoda Kodiaq long term review: how does it compare to Land Rover Discovery and Volvo XC90 - versus battle

Several readers have been in touch to ask how I feel the Kodiaq compares to more expensive cars, including the Volvo XC90 and Land Rover Discovery.

They liked the look of Driving’s long term test Kodiaq, which is in Sportline trim with the 190PS diesel engine, and had been browsing Skoda’s website, configuring a car for themselves and coming away pleasantly surprised at the price and level of equipment that comes as standard. Some have even been inside’s a friend’s ‘Koda.

However, another reader suggested that the Skoda isn’t especially good value, when comparing finance deals available on it and competitor cars such as the Land Rover Discovery Sport.

That’s an important point. The days of comparing list prices are almost behind us. Most people have to take into account a number of figures involved in financing a new or used car, such as the part exchange value of their existing model, contribution or discount figure from the manufacturer or dealer, guaranteed minimum future value, the annual interest rate and, of course, the all-important monthly repayment figure that’s churned out by the computer at the end of adjusting such variables.

Skoda will tell you that the company can’t build enough Kodiaqs – well, that’s what they’ve told me. But I took my chances on the car buying comparison website Carwow, submitting the details of our long-term test Koda to see whether any discounts might be available to buyers.

Sure enough, by the end of the day five Skoda dealers had laid their opening hand on the table. The difference in discount on the £37,570 list price (excluding optional extras) ranged from a frankly insulting £2,002 (it includes a £2,000 discount from Skoda if bought on finance, so that’s a £2 sweetener from the dealer) to a sorely tempting £6,651.

The latter is equivalent to 17.7% off the showroom price, dropping it to £30,939. If you were to go ahead and take out Skoda’s PCP finance, the APR would be 4.9%, and the monthly repayment over four years would be £412.82, with £16,037 to pay if you want to keep the car at the end of the term.

Needless to say, that doesn’t allow for any hard bargaining over a part-exchange or any haggling over the APR figure, both important components of any successful deal.

However, if I were to chop in our family wagon, a Honda Accord Tourer that would probably get me £3,000 on a good day, the monthly repayments would drop to £342, based on a £27,939 price for the Kodiaq.

That sounds like a lot of car for the money to me. A comparably-priced Land Rover Discovery Sport does not feature the same high level of standard equipment as our Koda Sportline.

In the interests of balance, however, I put Land Rover dealers to the test, again using Carwow. The Discovery Sport SE Tech, with the 2-litre, 180 diesel engine and automatic gearbox, costs £38,355.

The best offer from an authorised dealer was a price of £34,609, a 9.7% discount that’s some way short of the Skoda. There’s also no deposit contribution from the manufacturer. Allowing for the discount and my imaginary part exchange, the monthly PCP repayment would be £445.

So you’d be £100 a month better off taking out finance on the Skoda, and you get more equipment as standard than the Landy, too. But do you get a better car?

I’ll be revealing what it’s like to live with in the next update.

 


September 4, 2018: Holiday proves the Kodiaq is one of the best family SUVs

Skoda Kodiaq 4x4 long- term test review by James Mills for The Sunday Times Driving - with roofbox for holiday vacation road trip family space

Can there be a greater test of a car’s capabilities than loading it to the gunnels, piling in all the family and driving the best part of 1,500 miles for a summer holiday break?

This is what the ‘Koda’ faced at the end of August, as famille Mills steered a course for a glamping site just north of Toulouse. Called Le Camp, it’s a posh, Gallic version of a Feather Down farm, only one with a natural swimming pool that comes into its own as the temperature soars beyond 30C.

To pass our test, the Skoda – to recap, a Kodiaq Sportline 2.0 TDI 190 4×4, which currently costs £37,590 – should transport us there in comfort and have us emerge looking fresh and enthusiastic, rather than weary and in desperate need of a lengthy period of recovery.

The exam started with packing the boot. We only needed to use five of the Koda’s seven seats. So the boot was reserved for bags and shoes, and the Skoda-designed roofbox was for towels, childrens’ toys and a bag full of cycling kit (snuck in by yours truly).

I’d like to meet whoever designed this car’s interior, and visit their house. They must be one of the most organised and resourceful people in the world, a cross between Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Kirsty Allsop, because the cabin is brimming with clever storage areas. And as any parent knows, having somewhere to stash all the clobber that follows children around is half the way to staying sane.

Skoda Kodiaq 4x4 long- term test review by James Mills for The Sunday Times Driving - under-boot storage

Take the compartments beneath the boot floor. We comfortably stashed nine pairs of shoes in them, as well as Skoda’s travel kit for driving in France and other parts of Europe.

With the flat floor in place, five big bags were swallowed by the boot (we could have fitted another three in there, I reckon) so the luggage cover could be drawn across.

Skoda Kodiaq 4x4 long- term test review by James Mills for The Sunday Times Driving - boot space holiday

Up on the roof I added a cycle carrier, for my road bike. (There’s another story there, involving a load-height restriction at a peage toll…) Then the tyre pressures were inflated to allow for the car’s full load, and off we went.

The first feature to earn praise from bleary-eyed passengers at 4.30 in the morning were the heated seats and climate control for those in the back. The children could set things just how they liked, by using what’s known as tri-zone climate control. What that means is the two people in the front can set the temperature to different levels, as can anyone in the back. It’s a far cry from the days of winding down a window.

Those back seats tilt back, so had already been set reclined to maximum ‘chill out’ angle. Also appreciated, as the sun began to rise, were the blinds built into the back doors.

With the headlights adjusted via the car’s onboard computer for driving on the right side of the road (genius), we made mercifully swift progress south through France. On the autoroute, the 2-litre, 187bhp diesel engine was a distant thrum. If only the bike, roofbox and roofbars, were as quiet; they created a roar similar to sitting in a jet plane.

Happily, the car’s fuel economy didn’t appear to suffer too greatly from the extra drag of the stuff on the roof. Before the holiday, it was averaging between 37 and 38mpg. On the 600 mile drive home, it managed 34.7mpg at a steady 130kph (80mph, where allowed) autoroute cruise.

A stand-out feature on this Koda is the driver assistance package, a £1,260 option on the Sportline models. It includes a system that ensures you don’t wander from your lane, warning and ultimately steering you back on course should you become distracted.

Also with the pack is blind spot monitoring, alerting the driver to cars drawing alongside, which is handy when you’re driving abroad in a right-hand drive car.

And finally the adaptive cruise control maintains a set speed but automatically slows the car then speeds up again should a slower vehicle pull in front. These all help reduce fatigue for drivers and act as an extra pair of eyes on the road.

The stability of the Kodiaq, even when fully laden and sporting so much load up high, on the roof, was faultless. And the car’s performance, with the 2.0 190 TDI engine, is always potent enough to see you past slower traffic with ease.

Our test car doesn’t feature the upgraded Canton audio system, but we had no complaints about the quality of the music streaming, or the clarity of the sound when making hands-free phone calls.

Skoda likes to make much of the ‘Simply Clever’ features to be found on its cars. One such solution came to the rescue in a downpour. The forecast ahead of our holiday had made no mention of rain, so we’d not packed any coats. To our delight, when the weather finally broke, just as we rolled into the picture-postcard medieval town of Saint Antonin Noble Val, we remembered that the Kodiaq has a pair of umbrellas hidden inside both front doors.

Criticisms? More USB charging ports wouldn’t go amiss in this day and age (there is only one, but we added a 12 volt double adapter for the kids in the back). And when pulling away from a stop, the automatic gearbox and driveline can be rather abrupt and send an unpleasant jolt through the cabin. But that’s about it.

Short of a tour bus, it is hard to think of a better car in which to undertake such a long journey with a family of five aboard.

 

September 27, 2018: Low coolant fluid strikes Skoda Kodiaq

Skoda Kodiaq long-term test review - coolant failure fixed by VW Group Roadside Assistance - James Mills for Driving.co.uk

It had to happen. After months of bigging-up the Kodiaq, and hearing from several readers who have placed an order for their own Koda after browsing these reviews and sending me questions via Twitter, something has gone wrong with our test car.

On a cold and frosty morning, the family piled into the car for the school run, buckled up their belts and were thumbing the buttons for the heated front and back seats before the engine had even been started.

When the 2-litre diesel was fired to life, the dashboard flashed up an alarming, red warning symbol and said that the engine coolant was low.

Lifting the bonnet revealed that, sure enough, the expansion chamber for the coolant showed that the fluid level was some way below the minimum mark.

Flying in the face of advice online and in the car’s handbook, I closed the bonnet, pretended there was nothing untoward and went ahead with the school run. Our eldest child said this was dangerous and she would report me to Childline. But when I pointed out that she had a school bus to catch, she quickly climbed off that high horse.

Once home, I phones the local Skoda dealership. Its service department advised that I should contact Skoda’s Roadside Assistance service, which is provided for the first three years of vehicle ownership. It’s a valuable addition, common among car makers, that provides breakdown or accident cover at home, on the road and across Europe, and includes transportation of any caravan or trailer.

After speaking with them I was offered the choice of a one-hour wait for an AA technician or a couple of hours for someone from the Volkswagen Group. I chose the latter.

Peter Bevan arrived at the allotted time, complete with shiny van packed with almost as much equipment and technology as you’d find at a Skoda garage.

The coolant was indeed low, by about 400ml. (Hurrah! I am an engineering genius.)

Skoda Kodiaq long-term test review - coolant failure fixed by VW Group Roadside Assistance - James Mills for Driving.co.uk

Peter topped it up, performed a pressure test of the system, which runs at 1.3 bar, inspected the tank, pumps, radiator, pipes and engine bay for signs of a leak, before plugging in a diagnostic laptop to reset the system.

Peter suspected an airlock could have caused it, and in the cold weather (about 4C) the contracting fluid would trigger the low-level warning. He was a likeable, knowledgeable chap, and explained how pressuring the system allows coolant to run at temperatures of up to 120C.

We then got on to discussing petrolheads’ perennial favourite topic: technology in cars. To illustrate the car in the computer age, Peter used the 12V battery as an example. Many drivers might have it replaced at a local fast fit centre, after however many years of service, as and when it finally needs changing. But these days, even a battery is relatively sophisticated, with its own dedicated computer chip that talks to the car’s CAN bus system – Controller Area Network – and it must be coded so that the car knows the specification of the battery and can monitor its condition appropriately.

Peter went on his way and the Skoda has continued without a hitch. Looking online, it doesn’t appear I am alone in driving a Kodiaq (or other VAG model) to have suffered such a problem. But then again, many other makes and model of car have too.

Using a car maker’s breakdown service isn’t something many drivers hope to do. But should the need arise, it’s good to know that everything goes as smoothly as you could hope for – even if this wasn’t a taxing technical issue.