Skoda Kodiaq has been priced at Rs 34.84 lakhs (Ex-Bangalore)
What is it?
Skoda has been a brand for enthusiasts and petrol-heads since it stepped on the Indian soil with the Octavia. With the SUV’s(read XUV 5OO) shelving-off the D segment sedans, the Czech brand launched the Yeti. It was a great car indeed, but the Indian market didn’t accept it well. That’s because of its compact and boxy looks. Something, that we stopped liking long ago. The “Kodiaq” is the biggest car in the line-up and the first to offer seven seats. It has 4×4, decent ground clearance and can tow up to 2.5 tonnes (For instance, the Endeavour weighs 2.4 tonnes). A second-look and you’ll see it actually has a lot in common with an estate.
The Skoda Kodiaq rivals Toyota Fortuner, Ford Endeavour, Volkswagen Tiguan and Audi Q3.
+ Built like a Tank! The design department scores a full 100 with brilliant design and crystalline theme running across the car
+ Pampered in luxury, easily the most luxurious SUV in the segment. Even the NVH levels are superb
+ Car-like handling is confidence inspiring on high-speeds and corners. It was pure bliss to drive this beast in the Mountains
+ Impressive 7-speed DSG transmission with paddle shifters. Switch to the manual mode for some dose of adrenaline
+ 5-star Euro NCAP safety rating with a long list of safety gizmos. The 4×4 will come handy in some tricky situations or that occasional off-roading
– Slightly underpowered. The engine is capable of handling some really big BHP & Torque figures
– Cramped 3rd-row seating. Even kids won’t be comfortable in long journeys. Best used as extra-boot space. The absence of 3rd row A/C vents make the matter worse
– Over-priced. Its direct competitors(read 7-seaters): Toyota Fortuner & Ford endeavour are priced ~4 lakhs cheaper and are full-fledged ladder-on-frame SUV’s
– Had it been slightly taller with increased GC, it would have commanded massive street-presence. Currently. the best alternative to a sub-40 lakh luxury sedan.
How does it look?
The Kodiaq has the classic, elegant and understated look, but is slightly crystalline which makes it much more pleasing to look at. It does not have the sheer presence of the similarly priced Toyota Fortuner or the Endeavour though. The 7-seater SUV is more of a plush, semi-urban SUV rather than a full-fledged 4×4 off-roader. Even the Mahindra XUV 5OO and Tata Hexa which are priced exactly half of the Kodiaq command more street presence. But, you wouldn’t be buying the Kodiaq for its street presence. There is something about it that wipes out the competition. Read on…
For starters, The Kodiaq is smaller than the Superb and only 4cm longer than the Octavia, and yet it’s decently spacious! It uses a transversely located engine as against a longitudinal one, which allows it to have a short bonnet and a longer cabin. Built on the same MQB platform as the Octavia and the Passat, it uses the vertical space very efficiently.
It looks stunning with the prominent lines running across the body giving an aggressive stance to the SUV. The front end is defined by the muscular hood and those narrow headlights with bright LED daytime running lights. A pair of fog lights is housed just below the headlights, flaking that black grille that is outlined in chrome.
Moving over to the sides, there are two distinct body lines to talk about. The above line runs from the point of the wraparound headlights all the way back to the point of the taillights. Lower body line runs between the wheel arches similar to the Superb, giving a butch look to the lower side of the vehicle.
Around back, the most interesting features are those unique longitudinally mounted long taillights and the reflector that runs the full width of the rear fascia. Those taillights wrap have a unique shape. The reverse lights are located on the rear hatch. On the side, Skoda Kodaiq gets creases that have also helped in improving the overall dynamics of the SUV and carry the muscular look of the bonnet onto to the body of the vehicle.
The multi-surface tailgate, wraparound LED taillamps with brilliant attention to detail with trademark C-shaped illumination like most of the other Skoda’s and a black bumper that house the exhaust pipes at the rear:
The front butterfly grill gives the car a rugged and muscular look, dominated by the matte black finish and a bit of chrome that’s perfect not to look overdone:
The Kodiaq gets full LED crystal-clear headlamps with cornering fog lamps that are placed just below the headlights. You also get sleek LED DRLs outlining the headlights:
These undoubtedly have to be the best DRL in the segment:
Turn indicator neatly curves around the headlamp:
Headlamps + DRL + Hazard lamps = simply superb!
Just loved this little yet significant feature from Skoda. The protective flap opens up to protect the paint as soon as you open the door. Extremely useful in the tight parking spots:
Notice the C-shaped illumination. Crystalline as it can get! brake light, reverse light and indicator are all LED:
The Panoramic sunroof is huge and plays a crucial role in keeping the cabin filled with light. It also helps in making the cabin feel very spacious:
ORVMs are integrated with turn indicators. They are electrically adjustable and foldable. They automatically fold/unfold when the car is locked/unlocked respectively:
The Kodiaq gets rear wash wiper which has a good sweep with integrated dimenster on the rear windscreen :
The front parking sensors are really helpful in parking a vehicle of this size in the cumbersome traffic. Also, they act as proximity sensors that warn you if you are too close to the surrounding. This may get a little irritating in the bumper-to-bumper traffic. Nevertheless, a pretty useful feature:
The Kodiaq gets 18-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels. You will barely find a stranded flat-tire Kodiaq on the roads. Reason? The Hankook tyres are self-sealing, which means the liquid sealant inside the tyre fills the leak when there is a puncture. Extremely helpful when you take the Kodiaq in the our remote countryside:
The side windows get smaller as you move towards the rear. There are roof rails up top, but they are thin and likely more for appearance and elegance than functionality. A perfect car for those recreational getaways. With all doors open:
The C-shaped LED taillights to have a lot of detail. C-shaped illumination at night:
What’s on the inside?
On the inside, you are greeted by a clean dual-tone black and beige cabin. The beige colour along with a large glass area makes this a light and airy cabin. The aircon vents are vertically placed giving the dashboard a tall look. the vertical AC vents are so designed to cool the huge cabin effectively. There are no fake wooden inserts, thankfully. Instead, you get a black veneered finish. The materials used in the cabin are of top quality and there are quite a few soft-touch materials which raise the overall luxury quotient. The overall cabin feel is still far ahead of both the Endeavour and Fortuner.
The interior is a fine balance between practicality and luxury. Skoda has just done about right with the interiors of Kodiaq and thankfully just stopped before trying to overdo like the recent cars out there. While the overall placement of the dashboard is similar to that of other Skoda cars, The quality of plastics used is decent. The powered front seats offer excellent overall comfort and it’s easy to achieve a great driving position as the steering is adjustable for rake and reach. Something that all manufacturers should follow irrespective of the cars.
There is a three-spoke steering wheel that feels superb to hold. With the perfect grip, having multimedia & cruise controls. It has paddle shifters too which are great to use if you get bored of the automatic tranny on highways. The quality of buttons is great. It’s good to hold with the thumb contours while the horn pad is within the reach. Piano black and chrome has been added tastefully:
The instrument cluster features a large tachometer and speedometer. A small display screen is positioned in the middle:
Seen here is the park-assist feature that lets you park the car automatically without any manual effort. Just look for space and turn the indicator ON and the car will do the rest itself:
Gone are those days when ICE was used as a medium of entertainment and control few basic features of the car. With the advent of smartphones, infotainment systems are capable of doing much more than that.
The large 8-inch infotainment system is loaded with tech and operates seamlessly with lovely touch input. It comes with USB/AUX/SD Card connectivity along with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink tech. You also get an inbuilt navigation system. Skoda is offering the Canton sound system which plays out excellent sound quality having an external amplifier, subwoofer, central speaker, tweeter and mid-range speakers.
One unique and interesting feature of the system is the Digital Enhancement system in which the driver can speak to the rear passengers via the speakers from the phone mic, which is very useful while you are playing music.
The large screen also doubles up as rearview camera display and the Kodiaq comes with front and rear parking sensors along with Auto Park Assist as seen in the new Octavia which helps you park effortlessly:
The engine is mated to a lovely 7-speed DSG transmission. The lever feels great to hold. The leather stitching on its base is top notch. There is also an option to use the Manual mode either using the slick gear lever or the paddle shifters located behind the steering wheel:
The power window switches are housed in an ergonomic position. There is a slice of wood embedded in the door:
Getting in and out of the front seats isn’t much of an issue, as you can just slide into the seats easily. This isn’t an SUV where you have to climb into, like the Safari, Fortuner or Endeavour. Senior Citizens will be very happy with this. Thanks to the low height and ground clearance.
The seats are wrapped in beige leather upholstery. The seats were too firm for my liking and. They aren’t ventilated, but offer very good support overall:
12-way electrically adjustable front seats with 3 memory settings even for the passenger, including adjustable lumbar support for the passenger:
The rear seat splits 40:20:40. The rear seat can accommodate 3 large adults with ease due to the massive width of the Kodiaq. There is a middle headrest and a 3-point seatbelt. Good move, Skoda. The climb into the middle row is easy, you get a separate climate control, and these 40:20:40 split seats fold down and can be slid with a healthy range. They do not, however, fold completely forward, nor can they be removed. This means access to the rear is a very cumbersome:
Again, small yet significant thing. The headrest is provided with support on either side so that you don’t doze-off on the other passenger:
The 3rd row of seats is a clear advantage that the Kodiaq has over competitors like the Tiguan & the Audi Q3, even though it’s strictly suitable for kids, for short distance. Accessing the third row of seats is always tricky for most of the cars. Getting into the last row of the Kodiaq is as difficult as it can get.
The under thigh support is poor and the legroom is quite tight for adults. However, the 2nd row can slide forward to give way for a little extra legroom but it’s not that comfortable for long journeys. The 2nd row comes with 60:40 split while the third row has 50:50 split. The 3rd row folds down by pulling a lever and you need to pull it back with the strap provided:
The rear passengers get A/C vents. The temperature is displayed at the bottom and can be set individually for the rear passengers. Roof/B-pillar vents are sorely missed for our humid climate as the air-flow to the last row is severely compromised. This, coupled with the cramped third-row leg room make things worse!
A closer look at the dashboard’s black veneered finish:
You get a handy umbrella placed inside the door frame. Unfortunately, the drive car didn’t have one. Skoda has even provided a drain hole to drain the water from umbrella:
Note the dashboard trim above the beige area which gets an ambient light strip:
with the sun-film ban, this can be quite useful in the Indian summers:
This doubles up as a storage compartment on the upper dashboard: Below, you have the illuminated glovebox and a velvet lining:
The boot opening isn’t that high, which means you can easily stuff your rucksacks. Also, notice the plastic running board to prevent damage to the body coloured bumper: Even with the third row of seats up, there is a really good amount of boot space. How I wish Mahindra had managed to squeeze out this much of boot space into the XUV:
How does it Drive?
Skoda is offering a single diesel engine option with the Kodiaq in India which is a 2.0-litre TDI unit that produces 148 BHP of power and 340 Nm torque. I feel they should have at least offered the higher tuned 188 BHP unit which is used in other countries. It’s not that the Kodiaq feels totally underpowered but you don’t get that kick in acceleration. The power delivery is just linear and gets progressive in a smooth manner from 2000 RPM
There is a clear hint of turbo lag at low speeds, but tap the throttle once the engine has crossed 1,400rpm and the Kodiaq sprints. It’s impressive considering it weighs 1.8 ton and the dual-clutch DSG is an icing on the cake!
The bonnet is insulated and does a great job of keeping the NVH levels lower:
The DSG is smooth and we love the engine/tranny combination. The gearbox doesn’t downshift too often as expected within the city limits. Sometimes though, there is a very marginal gap between pressing the accelerator and the downshifts. However, the upshifts are much smoother and almost lightning quick.
What the Kodiaq doesn’t quite manage well is high-speed performance. The 148 bp isn’t too much, especially when asked to pull such a heavy vehicle:
The Kodiaq comes with a useful ‘auto hold’ feature which is a boon in the city. While the vehicle is waiting at a signal, the driver can lift his foot from the brake pedal and the vehicle will stay in place. No need to keep the brake pedal continuously pressed. When you press the throttle, ‘auto hold’ immediately disengages.
• Normal mode: You’ll mostly use this. A perfect balance between economy & power. When in need of a boost for dashing through the gaps in traffic, move the gear lever to “S”. Things get a bit more spirited
• Eco mode: Engaging Eco mode primarily drops down the performance of the air-con system. Power delivery is also pretty lazy. Eco mode is usable for relaxed cruising on the highway or in bumper to bumper traffic. Or for the “Kitna deti hai”?
• Sport mode: This is when the fun begins! Throttle response sharp and precise. Even the engine is more responsive. Probably, more than it should be. This mode is very well suited for spirited driving, The steering weighs up in this mode(thankfully)
• Individual mode: The driver can choose to configure individual parameters such as the steering, drive and A/C. However, for the India-spec car, this doesn’t make the most sense
• Snow mode: As the name suggests, This mode should be engaged on icy or snow-covered roads. 4×4 kicks in and the traction is tremendously increased. But, the car moves much slower.
How does it Handle?
In terms of steer and handling, the Kodiaq is very car-like, unlike the bulky Fortuner & Endeavour. You could drive it just like you do a sedan. Thanks to its monocoque construction versus the body-on-frame build of the others. The Kodiaq Kodiaq despite 7-seater SUV is a good handler. On some twisty roads, the car did not feel unstable at any point in time. There are times when you won’t realize that you are driving a bulky SUV. The Kodiaq feels composed at speed, while stability up to decent speeds is superb.
The suspension has been set-up to be slightly firmer to control the body roll and anti-roll bars have a critical role to play. Braking performance is excellent as the 7-seater drops speed quickly and the pedal bite is brisk. The only issue is with the steering. It’s fine in the city but definitely on a lighter side when you get out in the city limits, the steering could be more confidence inspiring on the highway when cruising at good triple-digit speeds.
Is it Safe?
The Kodiaq recently received an excellent safety rating of 5 stars from Euro NCAP. Equipped with a total of 9 airbags, 3-point seatbelts for all passengers, ABS + EBD, TCS, ISOFIX child seat mounts, driver alert system and some more safety equipment. Skoda gives you a 4 Year/1,00,000 Km warranty as standard, and a 4-year maintenance package as well. Also, an intelligent hill descent control and park-assist come to the rescue in some tricky situations.
Should you buy One?
The Kodiaq maybe Skoda’s first full-fledged SUV, but the combination of superb quality, practicality and desirability make it an attractive proposition. Yes, it is a bit expensive at Rs 34.84 lakh, low-speed ride isn’t something to write about, the third-row seats aren’t practical and the car seriously needs a bit more power. Only if Skoda could bring in the 188 BHP engine offered overseas. It has good looks, is built like a tank, feels luxurious and comfortable, has best-in-class safety features and drives almost like a sedan.
The Kodiaq offers simply the best quality interiors and some cool stuff. If you are looking for an off-road vehicle or a true-blue 7 seater then the Kodiaq isn’t a good choice. It comes with 4×4 but there are way more capable SUVs to go off-road in this segment. But if you want an SUV with planted driving dynamics and you want to arrive at a party in style and pampered with luxury, then look no further, the Kodiaq ticks the right boxes.
The Skoda Kodiaq seems to be one of those cars that can never shy away from the camera. Scroll through to view the images of Kodiaq in the Baren Forest and Lush green tea plantations, amidst nature:
-Composed by Zahoor Hassan