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Skoda Kodiaq – First drive

Skoda Kodiaq 15
Could Skoda’s big bear be the preferred alternative to the German biggies?

Are you out in the market looking for a 7-seater SUV? If budget no bar, you have very limited choices (so far) — Mahindra XUV500 at one end of the spectrum and BMW X5, Audi Q7 and Volvo S90 at the other. But that won’t be the case anymore. Skoda’s first attempt at an SUV, the Kodiaq, is launching in India on October 4. It will sit higher than the Superb in Skoda’s portfolio, headlining the Czech brand. But should you get it or compromise your ‘SUV love’ and get the more practical Toyota Innova for yourself? We help you get over the dilemma.

 

Will it have more presence?

Yes. The Kodiaq is properly big. At 4697mm and 2087mm, it is wider and longer than most of the other SUVs, be it the GLA or even the GLC. It may not have the characteristic looks of a ladder frame based SUV, but it looks handsome in person. It’s skewed towards the station wagon look though. If machismo matters to you, you could always go for the Ford Endeavour because that’s not this Skoda’s forte.

The Kodiaq seems more like a jacked up version of the Superb. It shares a lot of elements including the headlamps, tail lamps and the angular creases on the doors as well. The Butterfly grille is wider and prominent on the Kodiaq though, to give it SUV vibes.

The rims on the Indian variant come only in 18-inch (19in in Europe) with higher profile rubber to cater to our road conditions. But that obviously takes away from the SUV-ish feel. The Kodiaq looks best when viewed from the front. The rear and side profile will reminisce you of the Octavia Combi.

Skoda Kodiaq 11

Is it comfortable?

A big yes. The Kodiaq is a proper 7 seater with the third row offering ample legroom for short drives (kids would be comfortable on long drives too). The interior is beige themed (black in Europe) which gives it an even roomier feel. Another big plus is the panoramic roof, which opens all the way to the second row.

The dashboard is a familiar sight and looks exactly same as the one seen on the Octavia or even, the Superb. The AC vents are mounted horizontally though. There is also and additional stowage box above the glovebox. The bolstered front seats are perfect with additional moulding to hold you, even while pushing the car. The ergonomics are perfect and everything falls to hands easily. The second row passengers too get enough headroom and legroom, even with the driver’s seat being moved fully backwards.

Skoda’s innovative features such as the neck holder on the head restraints, work like magic. It will also come with four blankets, attached to the front seat head restraints for that ‘bear hug’ feeling.

Skoda Kodiaq 13

Is it fast?

The Kodiaq is based on the same platform (MQB) as the recently launched Volkswagen Tiguan. It also shares the same 1968cc, in-line four-cylinder with the Volkswagen but here, it has been retuned for slightly more power at 147.5bhp. The torque remains the same at 340Nm and it even comes with the same 7-speed DSG gearbox.

With a kerb weight of 1799kg, the Kodiaq is heavy. And unfortunately, it’s excellent chassis (more on that later) is let down by the TDI unit. The power delivery is linear and without a heavy right foot, you’ll be able to manage well, if your plan is to just cruise, that is. Power starts building up at around 1500rpm and there is minimal turbo lag. It starts pulling cleanly up to 3000rpm after which the engine gets noisy. The gearbox is excellent and is tuned to for cruising conditions. If you’re someone who works with the paddle shifters, there’ll be a lot of work to do. The engine feels lethargic at times and doesn’t really take off. Hence, overtaking is an issue. In Sport mode, the gearbox sticks to the selected gear longer and even downshifts quickly, but the engine gives up way too soon and you’re struggling to cover ground, most of the times. This was made even more prominent after we drove the Octavia TDI that was powered by the same engine. Overall, if you’re an enthusiast and craving excitement, you should look elsewhere. The Kodiaq makes ample power for cruising and even city speeds though.

Skoda Kodiaq 10

Skodas and driving dynamics
Beginning with the Octavia 15 years back, Skodas have been well known for their excellent road manners and the Kodiaq lives up to the expectations. It not only looks like a raised Octavia but drives like one too. It’s monocoque chassis is creditable for this fact. The suspension is tuned perfectly, although it’s slightly firm at low speeds but gets flatter as you go faster. It’s a great mile muncher as we discovered during our drive in Kovalam.

Kerala is known for its small, dual carriage ways and there isn’t much space on the road even for overtaking. And from the outside, you really are always about driving it such conditions. But the Kodiaq wraps really well around you and you never really feel its size on the road. We were surprised to find almost zero body roll even when diving into a corner at high speeds.

The steering is typical of a VW Group car with enough weight at all speeds. There is lack of communication though but we are used to it now and that makes it an easy task.

Skoda Kodiaq 12

Enough value for money?
The Kodiaq will be available only in the top of the line 4×4 variant. Although it’s 4-wheel driven, don’t expect to delve deeper on to non-tarmac based roads as the ground clearance is not much. Also, there is no dedicated off road mode but Skoda says that the power is delivered to the wheels depending on the road conditions and the mode selection. There were a few cases of it being beached on the during our seaside drive, so be careful if you are planning to take it off the beaten path.

It also packs in a lot of kit with 9 airbags(!), a gigantic sunroof, 8-speaker 575 watt Canton stereo with subwoofer (excellent), 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, electrically adjustable front seats, reverse camera with parking and steering assist and a lot more.

We expect it to be priced at around Rs 30 lakh and that puts it in the league of GLA, X1 and Q3. The Germans do not offer enough kit and neither have the advantage of 7 seats. If you can live with the Skoda badge and also with an underpowered engine, the Kodiaq makes for an excellent buy. It can also be a great chauffeur driven car as it will keep you cocooned perfectly. Innova Crysta you ask? Well, take a hard look at the taxi fleets around you.


About the author

Abhishek Wairagade

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