2017 Skoda Kodiaq Review – International First Drive
Paul Horrell’s international first drive 2017 Skoda Kodiaq review with specs, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.
IN A NUTSHELL: SOMEWHERE BETWEEN A SOFT-ROADER AND A TALL ESTATE, THE SKODA KODIAQ IS FIRMLY PITCHED AT FAMILIES. IT SEATS UP TO SEVEN IN A VERSATILE, SOLIDLY-MADE AND SPACE-EFFICIENT CABIN. BUT THE COMPACT OUTSIDE MAKES IT HANDY FOR CITIES, AND IT KEEPS THE WEIGHT AND PRICE DOWN TOO.
2017 SKODA KODIAQ 110TDI 4X4
PRICING TBA WARRANTY 3 YEARS UNLIMITED KM ENGINE (TESTED VERSION, SEE TEXT) 2.0L TURBOCHARGED DIESEL 4 CYLINDER POWER 110KW AT 3500-4000RPM TORQUE 340NM AT 1750-3000RPM TRANSMISSION 6-SPEED MANUAL DRIVE ALL-WHEEL DRIVE SEATS 7 DIMENSIONS 4697MM (L); 1882MM (W); 1655MM (H) TURNING CIRCLE 11.6M GROUND CLEARANCE 187mm TARE WEIGHT 1750KG TOWING 2000KG (MAXIMUM BRAKED) FUEL TANK 60L FUEL CONSUMPTION 5.4L/100KM COMBINED CYCLE FUEL DIESEL SPARE TBA
THE VOLKSWAGEN GROUP’S value brand has got ambitions. The Kodiaq isn’t as big as the Superb, but as Skoda’s largest crossover it aims at a ballooning market.
It goes on sale in Australia in July 2017. All versions will seven-seaters (five is standard in Europe). That already gives it an edge over many competing crossovers. Also standard here in Australia is DSG automatic transmission and 4×4 drive.
The Kodiaq has a pair of more-than up-to-date engines and transmissions. Active safety gear leaves little off the table, and neither does the infotainment. Tech-wise, the days have gone when Skoda had to content itself with the Group’s stale leftovers.
In countries where Kodiaq prices have been revealed (not Australia yet) it’s storming value.
WHAT’S THE INTERIOR LIKE?
As a seven-seater it’s pretty practical. The middle row of three is spilt 2:1, and each section slides fore and aft by 18cm. That means if you’ve got tiny kids in the third row, or none at all, the middle three can stretch their legs very comfortably. If there are early teenagers out back, the middle bench will have to compromise and shove forward.
Unlike some seven-seaters, there is some remaining boot – a matter of 270 litres up to headrest level. But fold one of the rearmost seats and the boot becomes quite tenable for long-trip family use. As a five-seater you can comfortably carry bulky leisure kit, up to 765 litres under the blind.
Thoughtful touches are dotted around the cabin. Cup holders, storage pockets, vents and lights are plentiful. There are umbrellas stored in the front doors, and an ice scraper for the windows nestled inside the fuel flap (OK, maybe those things matter more in the Czech winter than the Australian…). A magic little protective plastic flap wraps itself around the door edge when you open a door, then disappears when you shut it. If you remove the boot blind to fold the seats, it doesn’t just rattle around – its own storage rack lies beneath the boot floor. There’s also a rechargeable torch in there.
For the family mission, you’ll find adequate gadget-charging points, via 12V, USB and even a Qi wireless pad. On-board wi-fi comes with top specs. In international markets four levels of infotainment system are available. The top one is a new seamless-looking glossy glazed pad with particularly responsive scroll and zoom actions.
Much of which implies your kids can all retreat into their own little worlds. But Skoda has an antidote aimed at keeping up a family conversation. Using the phone mic, the driver’s voice is relayed to the rear speakers.
Up front, there’s a fine driving position, and seats that support on long trips. For extra $ there’s multi-way electric adjustment. But all this fancy spec would look ridiculous if the cabin materials were cheap and nasty. Quite the opposite here. No it’s not Audi levels of material and jewellery quality, but it’s above the mainstream norm.
WHAT’S IT LIKE ON THE ROAD?
Under the skin the Kodiaq rolls on the platform of the VW Passat. That’s how it feels: assured, consistent and stable. It’s relaxing and trustworthy in its dynamics rather than exciting. The steering is well-damped and weighted, so the Kodiaq feels well-planted in the road. It basically melts into the background, demanding little of you but giving little to you.
When you’re travelling alone, the ride is knobblier than most Skodas. But of course the springs need a certain firmness if they’re not to sag hopelessly under the weight of a Kodiaq stacked to the gunnels with people and baggage.
My test drive in Europe was a 110kW diesel, with manual six-speed box and all-wheel-drive. For a seven-seat crossover it’s comparatively light, so the performance when you’re on your own is reasonable. The engine spreads its torque over a useful rpm range. But it’s not the quietest modern diesel, and if you factor in half a tonne of people or baggage, it’s going to be a bit of a plodder.
Luckily that engine isn’t coming to Oz. Our first one is a 132kW petrol 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, a recent development of the Group’s stalwart turbo direct-injection four-banger and the same engine that we’ve driven in the new Tiguan. It runs a special fuel-saving combustion cycle at light accelerator pressures. It’s mated to a seven-speed twin-clutch automatic transmission.
Soon after, Australian dealers get a 140kW version of the diesel, again with DSG. That should be handy when there’s two tonnes of trailer behind, and a posse of people inside.
WHAT ABOUT THE SAFETY FEATURES?
It’s too soon to have full independent crash-test results for the Kodiaq. But it comes with seven airbags as standard, including driver knee bag and head bags for the mid-row passengers. Side bags in the rear can also be specified on the home market and might be standard in Oz.
For active safety, autonomous collision mitigation is standard. Skoda calls it Front Assist, and it uses a radar to warn the driver if the car ahead is stopped, then brake (if the Kodiaq is doing less than 34km/h) if he or she doesn’t react. Radar is able to ‘see’ even in poor visibility. It also detects pedestrians, and if it determines someone is stepping out in front of you, it will do an emergency stop. That part of the system is claimed to work up to 60km/h.
Now let’s move up to the optionals and the items that come with higher trim levels. Blind-spot monitoring includes a warning if you’re reversing out of a parking space and a vehicle approaches along the road. Lane departure warning has lanekeeping assist that nudges the steering if you stray without indicating. A suite of cameras should prevent low-speed accidents while manoeuvring, especially as they sound a warning when they detect a moving object in the car’s vicinity – a child or animal, say.
As to assistance systems, the radar cruise control option includes ‘Traffic Jam Assist’, in which the Kodiaq nudges its steering wheel to follow the direction and speed of the vehicle in front, or the lane markings, up to a speed of 60km/h. Wisely, the system is designed to switch itself off if you remove your hands from the wheel. Self-driving it ain’t. This option bundle also detects if the driver has gone to sleep at any speed, and will steer the Kodiaq to a stop and turn on the hazard warning lights.