The Skoda Kodiaq was first showcased almost a year ago has taken considerable time to reach India. we first drove the car late last year in Europe. With the Yeti taken off the line-up, Skoda was left with no SUV in its portfolio for the country and SUVs are something which are in vogue currently and beneficial in generating volumes. So after a long wait, Skoda has finally brought its first ever compact SUV from the new fold, the Kodiaq, to India. We got an opportunity to spend some time behind the wheel and here is how it felt.
Looks and Design
The Kodiaq will be Skoda's flagship model in India, positioned right above the Superb. It looks sophisticated, considering Skoda has made use of crystalline design elements. The front end is sharp-looking with those sleek all LED headlamps and the black Skoda 'butterfly' grille, which is a standard in all Skoda models. What stands out right away is the fact that the 'compactness' of the car comes through neat edges and lines all over the car. The sculpted bonnet along with the very prominent shoulder lines gives it an appearance of all muscle and no bulk. There are hardly any curves anywhere. The stance of the car is as aggressive and muscular as an SUV could possibly have. But there is no mistaking the air of sophistication and elegance that Skoda cars are associated with. Adding to the muscle are the square-ish wheel arches with a touch of plastic cladding that houses 18-inch alloy wheels. Internationally, the Kodiaq gets 19-inch wheels but for Indian road conditions, the company believed 18-inch wheels to be perfect.
Interiors and Features
Skoda prides itself on the fact that the features and equipment on its cars are always better than or equal to cars in the segment above. And it could be true with the Kodiaq as well. The car gets a host of equipment and will be available in only one trim and one engine option (we will discuss the engine in a bit). All lighting elements on the SUV are LED. The crystalline LED lamps upfront get AFS or auto-function leveller, which means that putting the lamps on high beam will not dazzle the oncoming motorists. The LED fog lamps get cornering function, which again is quite beneficial.
The interior itself makes use of all the components that you will see on other Skoda models. The first thing that gets your attention is the 8-inch capacitive touchscreen system which is compatible with all forms of smartphone integration. Then there are the features such as ambient lighting, hands-free park-assist, umbrellas in the front door pockets and a 'sleep package'. Yes! And it is a rather interesting and clever touch from Skoda. The two seats at the rear get deployable flaps on either side of the headrest and there are two blankets as well. So in case the rear passengers feel like, they can take a siesta on the go. Talk about being simply clever. Then you have the removable torch in the boot and the panoramic sunroof, which is 85 per cent translucent. Adding to it all are the electric tailgate with the 'kicking' function and the door protectors on each door.
Overall, the interior feels premium with the beige and black colour combination. But the material on the lid of the glove compartment doesn't quite feel premium. The dashboard on the Kodiaq gets three storage compartments, two on the passenger side and one right below the steering wheel. The car is peppered with cubby-holes all over as well.
Coming to the seating comfort, well Skoda has done a good job there too. The seats are well-bolstered and comfortable for a long drive. Thanks to a long wheelbase (2,791 mm), the cabin feels airy and spacious. The rear seats have more than enough knee-room and the seats themselves could be moved back and forth by 180 mm. Getting into the third row of seats could be a problem and the middle row seats do not fall back all the way forward. The third row itself has decent enough knee room and is good enough for adults doing short distances.
Engine and Performance
At present, Skoda will offer only a single 2.0-litre DQ500 diesel engine on the Kodiaq which will be mated to a 7-speed DSG unit, which is quite a surprise considering a majority of car buyers are migrating back to petrol engines. A petrol engine option should have been on the cards. Getting the numbers out of the way, the engine makes 148 bhp at 3,500-4,000 rpm and pumps out peak torque of 340 Nm at 1,750-3,000 rpm. The claimed fuel efficiency of the Kodiaq is a decent 16.25 kmpl. Like all recent Skoda cars, the engine is smooth and between low and mid-range, the power delivery is linear and smooth.
However, enthusiastic driving needs some work done, owing to the car's weight (1,799 kg, gross). This is all the more evident when you need to overtake a lumbering truck or a slower car ahead of you. Skoda also offers five driving modes on the Kodiaq, which are the Eco, Normal, Sport, Snow and Individual. The car is running on 4x4 all the time with the torque vectoring system delivering 96 per cent of the torque to the front wheels. Upon requirement, it could send up to 50 per cent of the torque to the rear wheels as well. The Kodiaq will always be more comfortable on the tarmac, but having said that it could tackle very mild off-road terrains too.
Ride and Handling
Skoda has got the tuning of the suspension spot on! The Kodiaq offers a supple and the pliant ride over broken tarmac and the bump absorption ability is pretty good too. The steering unit too is light and responsive, making driving in the city a breeze. It is not the best of handlers, thanks to its length, but it isn't cumbersome either. Enthusiastic driving is not its forte and neither is Skoda claiming such. It is a relaxed SUV and the driving characteristics are such.
Skoda takes its safety a bit too seriously. The Kodiaq gets 9 airbags as standard (only one trim) along with a host of features such as ABS, ESP, traction control, all-around parking sensors, reverse-parking camera, the works. Plus, the European Skoda Kodiaq did get a 5-star rating from Euro NCAP too.
The Skoda Kodiaq has been launched in the country and is available in a single variant priced at ₹ 34.49 lakh (ex-showroom, India). In this price bracket, you get a legit 7-seater SUV with a bunch of features and equipment, superb passenger comfort and safety along with decent performance. The pricing does push the Kodiaq against the likes of the Audi Q3, BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLA. Much like the Superb too then, the Kodiaq does offer more practicality against some of the more expensive SUVs in the same price bracket.