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Skoda Kodiaq Review – 4×4, 7 DSG, 7 seats, 9 airbags; Best SUV under Rs 50 lakhs?

The latest Skoda emerges as a much more premium offering than its intended rivals, thanks to its lengthy equipment list and top-of-the-shelf hardware.

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The Kodiaq is only the second SUV in Skoda’s history which spans well over a century and yet, the flagship 7-seater started off with a bang in Europe. The fact that most variants of the Skoda Kodiaq have a waiting period of 9-12 months in its home continent speaks volumes about its potential and automatically raises our expectations. We were at Kovalam last week to check if the latest and the most expensive Skoda lived up to the hype. Here is what think of it!

Appearance

Making a 4.7 metre long SUV look proportionate is not an easy task but Skoda’s designers have excelled in this department. The Kodiaq is instantly recognizable as a Skoda and there is no dull angle at all.

The quintessential chrome-lined Skoda grille takes the centre stage on the front fascia, flanked by beautifully detailed full LED headlamps. The quadrilateral auxiliary LED units just below the headlamps double up as foglights and cornering lights. The huge honeycomb trim on the bumper along with black plastic chin do good to mask the visual bulk.

Like the other Skodas, the Kodiaq employs taut sheet metal surfaces combined with accentuated character lines on the sides. The standard multi-spoke 18-inch alloy wheels, chrome highlights for the day light opening, black plastic cladding for the lower body and roof rails make for a very good sight.

The multi-surface tailgate, wraparound LED taillamps with brilliant attention to detail (with trademark C-shaped illumination), and a black bumper that conceals the exhaust pipes define the neat rear fascia.

All in all, the Skoda Kodiaq has an excellent road presence and has a decidedly premium appeal.

The Cabin

Since the exterior design is very well in line with rest of the Skoda lineup, one would expect the Kodiaq’s interior to have lot of things common with its siblings, especially the Superb. However, the upright dual-tone dashboard design with polished wooden inserts is fresh and feels right at home on board the SUV. Skoda says that the vertical AC vents are so designed to cool the huge cabin effectively. The steering wheels is familiar and the simple instrument console is easy to decipher.

India-spec car receives beige leather upholstery which looks good and gives the cabin an airy feel. Also adding to this feel is the huge electrically operated panoramic sun roof. The powered front seats offer excellent overall comfort and its easy to achieve a great driving position (steering is adjustable for rake and reach) no matter your height and preference.

Although the rear seats are equipped to seat three passengers, for utmost comfort, we would only recommend two passengers since the AC vents eat up sizable legroom for the third passenger. The leg room is generous, thigh support is adequate and the inclination of the seatback is optimum. The middle seat also doubles up as a chunky arm rest. The Kodiaq comes with 3-zone automatic climate control – one each for front passengers and one zone for the rear.

The brilliance of the middle row seats however comes from what Skoda calls as the ‘power nap package’ which includes soft blankets (stored in pouches which are mounted on front head restraints) and variable headrests (holds your sleepy head better than a long haul aircraft’s economy seat). This clever touch helps the occupants have a nice and comfortable sleep. Trust us, it works!

Ingress and egress for the third row is easy enough. You just have to pull the lever on the middle row to tumble it. As in any 7-seater, the space on offer is not generous and one needs to sit in knee-up position. Nevertheless, the last row passengers wouldn’t complain over a short journey.

The boot capacity stands at 270 litres with all the seats up, 630 litres with the third row folded and a cavernous 2,005 litres with the second and third rows folded. Also, there are several storage options spread across the cabin.

The Skoda Kodiaq’s cabin is full of high quality materials, is well put together, spacious, well equipped, flexible and very comfortable.

Equipment, safety and clever touches

Skoda India-spec Kodiaq is available in a single top-end Style trim which comes packed with best-in-class features. The highlights include full LED headlamps and foglamps, 18-inch alloy wheels, Amundsen touchscreen infotainment system with navigation, Smartlink, Apple Carplay, Android Auto, ambient LED lighting with 10 setting, a brilliant 575W 10-speaker Canton speaker system, etc., gesture recognition system for the tailgate, keyless entry and start system, headlamp washers, cruise control, 3-Zone climate control, power nap package, handsfree parking, and so on.

In terms of safety, the flagship Skoda is equipped with 9 airbags (front, side, curtain and driver knee), ABS, EBD, Anti Slip Regulation, Electronic Differential Lock, Multi Collision Brake, traction control system, ESC, etc.

What makes the Kodiaq stand out however is an array of clever touches that makes life on board a lot simpler and enjoyable. In addition to the aforementioned power nap package, Skoda has bestowed the SUV with two umbrellas that are stowed within the front doors, electrically adjustable tailgate (for opening height), removable LED flashlight in the boot which recharges automatically when the engine is on, etc.

Engine and gearbox

The 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel engine comes from the Superb and is tuned to dish out 150 PS at 3,500-4,000 rpm and 340 Nm of torque at 1,750 to 3,000 rpm. The motive force is distributed via a 7-speed DSG transmission and a 4×4 system which powers the rear wheels automatically when situation demands it. The system comes with five drive modes – Eco, Normal, Sport, Individual and Snow. The drive modes play with engine, steering, transmission and AC settings while leaving the chassis settings unchanged.

The motor has excellent NVH properties and works unobtrusively. The wide spread of power and torque means the performance on offer is more than adequate under most situations and the responsive gearbox is effortless to use both in automatic and manual modes (thanks to paddle shifters).

Overall, the powertrain system is a smooth operator and leaves nothing to be desired in real world conditions.

Dynamics

Based on VW’s MQB platform, the Kodiaq employs McPherson struts with triangular links upfront and multi-element rear axle with longitudinal and transverse links, both with torsional stabilizers. The suspension system soaks up the poor surfaces brilliantly without unnecessary vertical movements.

The high-speed stability is extremely impressive and this big bear of an SUV goes around bends with commendable composure and predictability. It simply shrinks around the driver when pushed hard and the well weighted steering system only improves things.

Braking system comprises discs at all four wheels and we found it to be working admirably well even under wet conditions.

In short, the Skoda Kodiaq scores very high on dynamics department despite being hefty and comfort oriented.

Verdict

At INR 34.49 lakhs (ex-showroom), the Skoda Kodiaq is more expensive than its rivals Ford Endeavour and Toyota Fortuner (top-end variants go up to 37 lakh on road), and it breaches into the Audi Q3, BMW X1 and Mercedes GLA territory which has a higher snob value. However, we feel none of these cars are a match to the Kodiaq’s wide range of repertoire.

It is a proper 7-seat premium SUV which offers all that a customer in this segment wants and then some more. It has good looks, is very well built, feels luxurious and comfortable, has best-in-class safety features and drives almost like a sedan. And it comes with the assurance of 4-year/1,00,000 km warranty.

I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that the Skoda Kodiaq is all the luxury SUV one would need in the sub-50 lakh category!

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