Does Skoda’s new SUV retain the wow factor at the cheap end of the range?
The Skoda Kodiaq is going to be one of the go-to cars of the coming year. A big, seven-seat SUV from the how-do-they-do-it-for-the-money masters, it’s set to become a very common sight indeed on a school run near you.
Many of the headlines revolve around the fact that you can get one of these for not much more than £20k. If you want a diesel engine, auto box, four-wheel drive, adaptive suspension, seven seats and lots of high-tech and luxury kit, however, that will soon recede like figures on a shore waving goodbye as your ship sets sail for the horizon.
Tested here is the kind of Kodiaq you’ll get if that’s how far your funds stretch. Its 1.4 TSI petrol engine and six-speed manual gearbox are backed up by a spec level which roughly equates to what will be called SE in the UK – meaning what we have here is basically a five-seater costing £23,945.
Skoda Kodiaq 1.4 TSI 125 SE
Engine: 1.4-litre, four-cylinder turbo, petrol
Gearbox: Six-speed manual
Top speed: 118mph
CO2 emissions: 140g/km
To start with what matters most, the cabin is excellent. It’s roomy and beautifully put together, to the extent that you’ll struggle to match it in cars from the next level up. Any criticisms we’d have would relate to the seating position and width on offer in the rear seat.
But this is a big car with a small engine, so how does it perform? Surprisingly well, in fact, so long as you don’t go looking for the sort of speed it clearly doesn’t have – all you’ll get in return is noise. Use the box to keep the engine on song and it’s largely untroubled – although a full load of people or cargo would surely crank up the stress levels.
With this in mind, we’d say that this version of the Kodiaq is best suited to people to whom handling isn’t really a thing. Still, it steers pleasantly and doesn’t flop about in corners – though whether this is more important than ride comfort, which can lose its composure on rough surfaces, is open to question. Over the piece, however, this base-spec suspension set-up did enough to make us ask ourselves whether we’d bother spending more for the adaptively damped DCC option.
We’re used to test-driving cars we really want to love but find ourselves unable to bond with. In the case of this resolutely school-run Kodiaq, it’s kind of the opposite – in our wish-everything-was-a-Ferrari world, it’s the sort of car we ought to hate – but you just can’t help but nod with admiration at its very obvious virtues.
We’d counsel caution before plumping for this engine, all the same. Fine though it is most of the time, there are certainly situations in which it’ll be found wanting – and the frequency with which these crop up will surely dictate your ability to live with its evident limits.
Consider also that if you need to thrash this engine, its quoted 47mpg fuel economy will forever be as distant as those people on that beach. This Kodiaq is unlikely to hold its value the way a more desirable diesel does, either – which you’ll pay for either at sell-on time or through your finance instalments.
So it’s possible that the 1.4 TSI could be a false economy. If your sums suggest as much, a more suitable engine is certainly in order – but if not, rest assured that so long as you buy it for what it is, this entry-level Kodiaq does live up to the standards set by the rest of the range.