From £20,7208
The Kodiaq's versatile interior continues to impress, but this punchiest petrol engine will be a rare sight on our roads while diesel rules the roost

Our Verdict

Skoda Kodiaq

Skoda jumps into the SUV market with both feet — and seven seats, but can the Kodiaq win the people's hearts in an already congested SUV market?

22 March 2017

What is it?

The range-topping petrol version of Skoda's latest SUV, with a turbocharged 178bhp engine, four-wheel drive, seven seats, a seven-speed dual-clutch DSG automatic gearbox and bear-derived name as standard. It arrives at an interesting time, one of growing concern surrounding diesel particulates, and one of SUV sales in the UK growing by 20% each year on average.

And the signs are good: Skoda says some 30,000 people have already registered interest with them even before the car is available to view in dealerships next month, which far outweighs the response to its Superb hatchback. In fact, there's already a three-month UK waiting list in place for Kodiaq, and around 85% of buyers have opted for pricier SE L trim or higher. If further proof were needed that SUVs are where they're currently at, the Skoda Yeti had its best year in 2016 despite an all-new model coming soon.

One can only assume, then, that we'll be seeing plenty of Kodiaqs on the road going forward, probably consuming segment share like that other recently-famous bear consumed a hairy Leonardo DiCaprio - that is to say fairly aggressively. But, while we already know the Kodiaq to be a sound family SUV choice, should that choice involve the 2.0 TSI petrol engine tested here?

What's it like?

We certainly wouldn't scoff if it did, but given this petrol's stats, it's likely to be rare sight on UK roads. Both its relatively high CO2 emissions and poor official fuel economy will keep the majority of buyers turning to the diesel while it remains a viable fuel - and it most certainly does here and now.

But those who brave said figures will be rewarded with a very well-rounded engine. Firstly, it's smooth at any revs and only starts to shout deep into its rev range, and then there's its stout low-down enthusiasm and decent turn of pace when provoked. Unfortunately, the DSG 'box doesn't show the same sort of urgency in its Normal driving mode, needing Sport selected before it starts to keep pace with proceedings.

But Sport isn't where you want the Kodiaqs steering, where it becomes far too artificially heavy, nor its optional adaptive dampers (£980), which cause a fair amount of fidgeting on scarred roads. Comfort mode with adaptive isn't ideal either, rounding off the fidget but allowing too much float in the body across undulations. In truth, the optional chassis is best left alone, conceding a slightly busy secondary ride but gaining tighter body control and commendable agility considering its considerable heft on fixed-rate dampers. 

Indeed, with the Kodiaq's driving modes set correctly (there's an Individual mode to tailor to your preference), it handles tidily, but never with any real depth to explore further - which is just right given its intended use. The steering is without feel but precise, grip levels (and soggy-surface traction in our 4x4 model) are high and the front wheels go first when pushed. Lovely.

Of more consequence to buyers will be how well the Kodiaq accommodates five or seven people (depending on your choice): seats six and seven aren't possible on S trim, are optional on SE and standard from SE L. There's masses of room around the two front seats, it's similarly spacious in the middle row - which will slide back and forth and also adjust at the backrest - while the rearmost seats will accept children with ease of adults on short journeys.

In terms of space, that leaves the Kodiaq on a par with the Land Rover Discovery Sport across all rows, but behind the larger but similarly-priced Kia Sorento. However, fold the Skoda's rearmost seats flat into its boot floor and you're left with luggage area that's much closer to the Kia's and more than a match for the Land Rover. Of course, Skoda's 'Simply Clever' motto rings true throughout the cabin, with a generous scattering of hooks, cubbies, storage bins and nets. 

Should I buy one?

I bet you've heard the one about the high-mileage driver going for a diesel and everyone else being better off with the petrol. Well, that remains the case, except that in the case of the Kodiaq, there's a cleaner, more frugal 1.4 TSI petrol unit with clever cylinder deactivation technology on offer for less money. That its 148bhp doesn't feel out of depth in this 1800kg car rather seals the 2.0 TSI's fate.

Beyond this engine, well-stocked SE L trim makes a sensible option and the Kodiaq remains one of our favourite family SUVs. It lacks the dynamism of a Discovery Sport (and its off-road prowess) but those less interested in driving enjoyment and more in practicality and value for money would do well to have it down as a close second on their list of test drive bookings. 

Skoda Kodiaq 2.0 TSI 180 DSG SE L

Location Bath, Somerset; On sale Now; Price £30,410; Engine 4 cyls, 1984cc, turbocharged, petrol; Power 178bhp at 3900-6000rpm Torque 236lb ft at 1400-3940rpm; Gearbox 7-spd automatic; Kerb weight 1840kg; Top speed 127mph; 0-62mph 8.2sec; Economy 38.2mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 170g/km/31% Rivals Land Rover Discovery Sport, Kia Sorento

Join the debate

Comments
11

22 March 2017
I'm pleased to see that Skoda have seen fit to offer two petrol engines in the 4x4 Kodiaq range,it would be good to see this offered on the AWD versions of the Octavia & Superb ranges as well

22 March 2017
It would be with a class leading hybrid system on board. I quite fancied one of these until I saw the new Mazda CX5.

289

23 March 2017
I think Skoda has hit the jackpot with the Kodiaq.

Its a great package, and being someone who detests diesels....I think the 2.0 TSI is the sweetspot - 30 + mpg is good enough for a fair size SUV.
As usual the 'manufacturer knows best' attitude of only offering the DSG gearbox rankles....the jury is still out on this gearbox's log-term reliability.
I would guess that the 1.4 TSI may have adequate push when driving solo, but with 4-5 people and luggage I would suspect it gets a bit breathless on motorways in the north of England (Cumbria for example), and again, given the VW groups current electrical gremlins, I don't trust the long term reliability of 'cylinders on demand'.
Sadly the Kodiaq will not be for me as I prefer the creamy delivery of V8 petrol's or at the very least V6's, and I see no plans for this in the Kodiaq range.

23 March 2017
289 wrote:

As usual the 'manufacturer knows best' attitude of only offering the DSG gearbox rankles....the jury is still out on this gearbox's log-term reliability.

I agree that people should be given more choice, however the DSG only really had problems in 7-speed dry clutch guise and with early dual mass flywheels for the 6-speed, wet clutch version. The lower torque figures of the petrol engine should help preserve the gearbox's reliability.

27 March 2017
Do we know for sure that the Kodiaq only uses the wet DSG transmission? I'm interested in the 1.4TSI DSG to replace my Touran, also a 1.4 TSI, but my Touran sports the DQ200 DSG7 (dry) which has been very unreliable. I love the smoothness of the DSG but the 7-speed dry version is not fit for purpose in my opinion and I wouldn't buy another car featuring this gearbox. Here in Belgium the Kodiaq TSI1.4 is offered with the DSG6, which I presume is a wet gearbox, which is more durable. The 2.0TSI is offered with a DSG7, which I presume is not the same as the dry DQ200 gearbox used in earlier VWs.

23 March 2017
A damn good looking car.

23 March 2017
Please don't use the phrase 'going forward'. It's hideous and superfluous in this context, as almost always. Mind you, this car will probably be bought by the kind of people who use this phrase every day, so maybe I am doing the writer a disservice? If so, I look forward to more of this wit going forward;-)

23 March 2017
Charming! I would never use such a phrase! Mind you I am very old!! ;-)
I think you have a superfluous 'S' in your nom de plume! ;-)

Colin Lambert.

23 March 2017
Each to his own but I'm not a fan of the way this looks though it seems like a decent stab at a large SUV. The wrap-round of the huge rear lights makes the back end look clumsy, and overall it's not far off the white-goods blandness of the Tiguan.

23 March 2017
When my Octavia VRs goes this may well be on the shopping list, although the 1.4 TSI would be my likely choice.
Steam cars are due a revival.

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