02-02-2019

Skoda Kodiaq Driven

REVIEWS

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Are you someone who’s looking for a SUV which is huge on size, can carry 4 adults and 2 kids with utmost comfort? Are you someone who loves your music, and are not in a hurry to reach your destination, but prefer comfortably cruising down the highway enjoying the nature around? And are you someone who doesn’t want to announce the world that you have arrived in life?

If you are that someone, then Kodiaq, is just perfect for you. Why? Read On…

But before answering the why, let me tell you, something about the Kodiak, after all, the name Kodiaq, is taken from the Kodiak. The Kodiak bear also known as the Kodiak brown bear, sometimes the Alaskan brown bear, inhabits the islands of the Kodiak Archipelago in southwest Alaska. It is the largest recognized subspecies of brown bear, and one of the two largest bears alive today, the other being the polar bear.


Hold on, why am I telling you this. Ok, it may be the largest bear, how does it have to resonate with the car that we have? Well, to put a hindsight to it. The Kodiaq, is the largest car ever made by the Skoda, and not only is it the largest car by the company, but it is ladies and gentlemen, the biggest car in its segment. But then, some of you may argue, isn’t the Toyota Fortuner and the Ford Endeavour, wider, taller and longer than the Kodiaq?


Let’s put some specs in place. Well the Toyota Fortuner is 4,795 mm in Length x 1,855 mm in Width x 1,835 mm in Height, the Ford Endeavour is 4,892 mm in Length x 1,860 mm in Width x 1,837 mm in Height and the Kodiaq is 4,697 mm in Length x 1,882 mm in Width x 1,676 mm in Height. So no way, is it lengthier, taller and wider than the others. But others, are body on frame models, while the Kodiaq is the monocoque chassis design. Secondly, the Ford as well as the Toyota have some serious off-roading hardwares, while, the Kodiaq, may have the off-roading capabilities, but that is restricted to sending the power to wheels which are spinning, and you really don’t get the traction modes, like the other two get. Therefore, the only next best comparable SUV to the Kodiaq is the Tiguan and the Tucson, in similar price brackets. Of-course, the Tucson is considerably cheaper than the Kodiaq. And while the Kodiaq is a full blown 7 seater, the other two are just 5 seaters. And that is where ladies and gentlemen, the Kodiaq, is full size bigger than the other two and the biggest in the segment it operates. Infact, for half the price, you get the size of an Audi Q5 which sits at 4,663 mm in Length x 1,893 mm in Width x 1,659 mm in Height. Almost identical we say. So one point ticked for you, you were looking for a bigger SUV isn’t it. And this one is identical to the Audi Q5, at least, in dimensions.

Now let’s look at the car in details shall we.

Design Language

Exteriors


Well, if elegant, impeccable shut lines, power bulge’s and clean lines are the things for you, Kodiaq is spot on. Walk up to the Kodiaq, and its size, crisp details and bold lines get your attention. Every single piece of detailing is neat. It means and looks business class from the word go. The signature Skoda grill dominates large portions of the front, with swept back headlights adorning the sides. Talking about the headlights, they are full LED, and the all LED fog lamps complete the setup. Fog Lamps, like any other Skoda car, double up as the cornering lamps too. The power bulge on the bonnet, first seen on the Skoda Octavia, makes its presence felt more so here in the Kodiaq. While on the Octavia, it was subtle, here it takes a prominent stance.

Moving to the sides, the minimalistic theme continues here. I particularly like the way the upper section of the SUV is bifurcated with a contour line that moves right from the bonnet to the tail-lights. It enhances the visual appeal of the car. The Kodiaq houses a transversely located engine as against a longitudinal one, which allows it to have a short bonnet and a long cabin. Built on the same MQB platform as the Octavia and the Passat, it makes good use of vertical space. Now, some may say that’s clever, and others may say, this makes the car look more like a MPV rather than a SUV when viewed from the sides.


Moving to the rear, the crystalline tail-lights dominate the rear. They are crisp and sharp. The exhaust pipes are smartly hidden behind. Integrated spoiler looks neat and adds to the visual appeal of the car. The side contour line merges behind and very smartly bifurcates the upper half of the car with lower.

Virtual pedal is becoming common amongst all the cars today, even in segments below, and Kodiaq, just couldn’t miss that feature or could it? Truth be told, it’s very cumbersome, doesn’t work in the first go, and takes time to get used to. So if you are in a hurry, you might as well want to press the boot unlock button on the key and get going faster. Speaking of the boot, there are nets and hooks in the back and should you need to expand the boot capacity of 630 litres (with the third row flat), you can do so with the 40:20:40 folding second row. And should you need to hide something, there’s even a double floor.

Interiors


Climbing inside the Kodiaq, is not as difficult as climbing say inside the Endeavour. But step inside the Kodiaq, and you instantly know, you have seen this interiors somewhere. If we were to the nit-pick, we would say, the steering wheel is tad too small for the size of the dashboard. And the other complain that we have for Skoda, is that, there is nothing new here, a customer buying a 10 lac cheaper Octavia, or marginally cheaper Superb, gets absolutely same gizmos that the Kodiaq comes fitted with. There is no single feature or gizmo, which is ear-marked as Kodiaq exclusive. Now, that’s a disappointment. If as a customer, I am going to get things similar to 30 lac car, why should I spend additional 10 lac? Whatever said and done, the owners are going to spend the time inside the car, rather than outside of it. However, having said that, the interiors feel right up there with the 40 lac price bracket that the car charges. It is well designed and the build in most places is very good as well. The wood finish on the centre dash isn’t very convincing and functionality isn’t very slick, but you do get plenty of storage space in the front with the two gloveboxes, large bins on the doors and a massive elbow box. Both the driver as well as co-driver seats offer excellence thigh and lumbar support. The seats themselves are wide and broad, which sort of cocoon you inside them. And additionally, both the front seats are powered and come with memory settings. Simply Clever, must say. Additionally, there’s much more clever stuff to appreciate, like the door edge protectors that extend to protect the door when it is being opened, umbrella holders in the doors and a mini LED torch that can be magnetically attached to the body of the car to provide illumination.

In terms of ergonomics as well, the buttons for various operations are well laid out and you won’t be stretching way too far for anything.

Step in the middle row, and this is where, the Kodiaq is flawless, the seats are large, have excellent lumbar support, windows have large glass panes, and there’s no claustrophobic feeling and what more, there are neck supporters well integrated in the head-rest. What enhances the back seat experience considerably is the huge panoramic sunroof that allows for stunning vistas, even with just the blind pulled back and the glass roof closed.


Third row, like any other SUV in the country, is best suited for kids or adults for those short journeys. If you intend to undertake cross country runs with adults in the last row, well, they are going to complain to you, mid-way. What makes things worse is the seat that has practically been placed on the floor, so the seating position is positively commodious and very knees-up.

In Car Entertainment

Believe it or not, in-car entertainment is gaining lot of momentum these days amongst the customers. This single most feature, sometime becomes most influencing feature. If this wouldn’t be true, Tata wouldn’t plonk harman kardon system in their cars.

The 8.0 inch touch screen display is sharp and crisp and it supports Apple CarPlay as well as Android Auto. Apart from being an audio set-up, it also doubles up as an infotainment system also, which allows to operate host of car related settings. The 10 speaker setup of Canton, is the best I must have heard south of 40 lacs price bracket cars. However, for this size of the car, ideally, Skoda should have provided a 12 speaker set up found in the Superb. One flip side to this setup is that you have to work around the sound settings a lot to get that perfect sounding output. If the sound settings aren’t tweaked, the sound starts getting jarring, which starts to irritate. But once the perfect setting is achieved, anything right from retro to modern, classical to rock, sounds simply good.


Under the hood of the Kodiaq is the VW Group’s tried and tested 2.0 TDi engine. Power is limited to 150hp in this state of tune, but there’s still a very healthy 340Nm of torque from 1,750rpm. The driver gets paddle shifters, and, you guessed it, a seven-speed twin-clutch gearbox takes over the job of multiplying the power and dishing it out appropriately.


Start the car and you would be surprised with the refinedness of this engine, in this state of tune. In similar state of tune in the Octavia, the engine sounds ruff and does make an inroads in the cabin. But in the Kodiaq, well that’s not the case.


You may be thinking, for a car weighting almost shade closer to two tons, this engine and gear-box combo is a no-go. But I am happy to report, that the car darts off the line, as it was on steroids. Yes, there is a turbo lag below 1400 rpm, but once you have crossed that mark, the car builds considerable momentum and what helps make its case strong, is the absolutely brilliant 7 speed DSG.


Performance - Engine, Gearbox

Under the hood of the Kodiaq is the VW Group’s tried and tested 2.0 TDi engine. Power is limited to 150hp in this state of tune, but there’s still a very healthy 340Nm of torque from 1,750rpm. The driver gets paddle shifters, and, you guessed it, a seven-speed twin-clutch gearbox takes over the job of multiplying the power and dishing it out appropriately.


Start the car and you would be surprised with the refinedness of this engine, in this state of tune. In similar state of tune in the Octavia, the engine sounds ruff and does make an inroads in the cabin. But in the Kodiaq, well that’s not the case.


You may be thinking, for a car weighting almost shade closer to two tons, this engine and gear-box combo is a no-go. But I am happy to report, that the car darts off the line, as it was on steroids. Yes, there is a turbo lag below 1400 rpm, but once you have crossed that mark, the car builds considerable momentum and what helps make its case strong, is the absolutely brilliant 7 speed DSG.

Performance in the mid-range is more than sufficient. The engine’s brawny slug of mid-range torque not only makes it feel punchy, the motor’s willingness to rev and its responsive nature also make it perform in almost sporty manner. In fact, choose ‘Sport’ on the drive menu, and the Kodiaq does manage to convey an impression of sport, the gears being held onto longer, steering becomes crisper and responses to the throttle improved.

The Kodiaq features different driving modes which change certain parameters of the engine, gearbox, steering, ESP, adaptive lights and air-con. This is apart from the gearbox's "S" mode. By using the "Mode" button on the centre console, you can toggle through the 5 driving modes - Normal, Eco, Sport, Individual and Snow. While the Tiguan had a round dial to choose between the different modes, the Kodiaq uses just a single "Mode" button.

Normal Mode: Your everyday driving mode. It's a good balance between economy & power. When in need of a boost for dashing through the gaps in traffic, move the gear lever to "S".

Eco Mode: Engaging Eco mode drops down the performance of the air-con system. The climate control doesn't work as hard in this mode, though it still cools the cabin sufficiently. The throttle response is dulled - the difference is quite noticeable. Power delivery is also lazy, and the engine has this coasting feature which is activated only in Eco. Step off the accelerator pedal and the transmission disengages from the engine, with revvs falling below 1,000 rpm. If you touch the brakes, it engages the gearbox again to provide engine braking. Eco mode is usable for relaxed cruising on the highway or in bumper to bumper traffic. The mode has enough power on tap to move around, but for quick overtaking, you will have to use the Normal or Sport modes.

Sport Mode: Throttle response is definitely sharper in Sport mode. There is a bigger difference in the throttle response of Normal and Sport modes, than there is between Normal and Eco modes. Even the engine is more responsive in Sport mode as the car seems to move far more briskly. This mode is very well suited for spirited driving, although driving around in the city can be a little unnerving in this mode as the throttle response is sharper and the transmission is always in the power band. The steering weighs up in this mode and the cornering lights adjust more dynamically as well.

Individual Mode: The driver can choose to adjust parameters such as the steering, drive, dynamic cornering lights and air-conditioning individually. You can basically choose between Sport, Normal or Eco modes for each of them.

Snow Mode: This mode should be engaged on icy or snow-covered roads. It dulls the accelerator sensitivity for these conditions. The DSG's "S" mode is disabled here.

The Kodiaq comes with a convenient 'auto hold' feature which owners will love in the city. While the vehicle is waiting at a signal, the driver can lift his foot off 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. You do feel that small pause when starting off, as the brakes disengage before the car starts moving.

Even though, the Kodiaq comes with multiple driving modes, load the car with 5 adults, 2 kids and considerable luggage behind, the scenario changes. While it retains the characteristics of want to shoot off the line in Sport Mode, but you can feel the engine working a lot harder to let you do things, that you intended to do. At this point, you think, what if the car came with an engine in better state of tune?

Performance - Ride & Handling

Skoda is known to setup their cars brilliantly well. And it does manage to do that with the Kodiaq as well. Though, it is setup on a stiffer side, but that helps well in controlling the body roll. The flip side to the stiffer set up is, at slow speeds and over bumpy roads, those occasional thuds seep-in in the cabin. Though not a deal breaker, if you are used to comfortably sprung cars, you will make a mental note of it.


The steering wheel is calibrated really well, where the Endeavour keeps reminding you of its size, the Kodiaq is able to fit around you perfectly well. It is easily able to zip in and out of traffic. Don’t get me wrong, it does have a size to it, which you need to keep in mind while driving, you just can’t ignore the proportions. For the size of the car, it turns in and out of the city very well.


The Verdict

So for whom is this Kodiaq then. You are the someone who’s looking for a SUV which is huge on size, can carry 4 adults and 2 kids with utmost comfort, remember, size wise it is as big as an Audi Q5. You love your music, remember the Canton System, yes it requires a bit of tweaking here and there through the settings. But once done, your Music Library is going to sound awesome. You are not in a hurry to reach your destination, you could, had the SUV have had, a more powerful engine, probably in the tune of 190 PS/400 NM but for now you prefer comfortably cruising down the highway, with the engine quietly chugging along. You enjoy the nature around, through the panoramic sunroof and wide glass panes all around the car. And lastly you don’t want to announce the world that you have arrived in life, should you wish to, the Audi Q5 could be your bet. But for now the Kodiaq, just fits the bill perfectly for you.


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About Author
Nilesh Sawant
Nilesh Sawant

With an experience of over 3 lac kms of driving across the continents and with extensive experience of driving on the tracks, and passion for technical things around anything on wheels, reviews written by Nilesh are crisp and to the point.  



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Priti

as

Reply | 19-02-2019


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