1.10.2018Skoda Kodiaq 1.4 TSI review
Skoda's Kodiaq is a large family SUV that impressed on our first drive of it, delivering space, practicality, and value for money. Having initially driven the 2.0 TDI diesel model, we've now tested the 1.4 TSI petrol - expected to become increasingly popular as the market shifts away from diesel power, even in larger models.
Review by Chris Lilly
Tested here is Skoda's Kodiaq fitted with its 1.4 TSI petrol engine, producing 140 hp and 250 Nm of torque for a 0-62mph time of 9.9 seconds. It features four-wheel drive for additional grip - particularly in slippery conditions - and power goes through a six-speed manual gearbox. It's a good transmission to pair with the engine, as it allows the driver to keep the engine on song when required, thanks to a quick and smooth change. The engine can begin to sound a little strained and the compact capacity petrol unit will struggle a little if fully kitted out with occupants and their luggage up steep hills for example, so it's the manual may well be better than the seven-speed DSG - good though it is - when there's plenty of work for the engine to do. For the majority of the time, this won't be an issue, and the 1.4 TSI engine works well, and is a refined option to go for.
Being a tall off-roader, the Kodiaq is not going to be challenging any hot-hatches down a twisty country road in terms of handling. You wouldn't expect that anyway, so avoid enthusiastic driving styles and the Kodiaq performs very well. When pushing on, there is a fair amount of lean in the corners, but grip is good and the handling is surprisingly responsive. Kept to more normal driving situations, and the Kodiaq excels. The ride is well set-up to provide comfort in all areas, from pot-holed city streets to motorway routes. The steering is light but accurate, and makes parking even in multi-storey car parks simple for a car this size. Shudders from bumps at slow speeds will reach the occupants, but nothing to make them uncomfortable. Skoda has done a good job of pitching the ride and handling to what the Kodiaq needs - namely comfort, reliable grip, and easy handling.
Skoda's designers have a good thing going on at the moment, with a number of discreetly stylish machines on the company's roster. The Kodiaq is numbered amongst them in my opinion, and is a good example of a large SUV that doesn't look bulky. This version stands out a little more than usual, thanks to the Sportline trim. The likes of Peugeot's 5008 might be more striking, but the Kodiaq is just as nicely designed, only in a more refined manner. It's a conventional SUV shape, which allows Skoda - this model included - to make the Kodiaq available as a seven-seater option. It's a versatile set-up, and combines the practicality of an MPV with the 'go-anywhere' looks of an SUV. The rear-most set of seats are best kept for occasional use or for children, though you can at least contemplate using them which is more than can be said for the third-row of some seven-seaters. The conventional front and middle row of seats are comfortable, and offer excellent levels of head leg, and shoulder room. The boot space available when the rear-most set of seats is up is decent, expanding to the positively cavernous when the rear seats are folded into the floor.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
The interior is a fairly sombre place in which to sit, even when enlivened slightly by a few flashes of carbon-fibre effect trim. The sporty leather/Alcantara-clad seats improve things further still, but the design in general isn't going to set the pulse racing as an example of a stylish cabin. What the Kodiaq does excel in is practicality. There are cubby holes everywhere, and so much storage space that you might forget where you've put something. There are two glove-boxes, a large central console bin, and good-sized door pockets, to stash everything from keys to books. The driver is presented with a sensible set of controls too, with a centre console largely taken up by a touchscreen infotainment system, and then some very logical heating/ventilation controls. The drive mode select and off-road systems are controlled by buttons at the base of the gear-stick, and the driver gets a multi-function steering wheel for other elements. It's all ergonomically placed, feels solidly built, and enhances the impression that the Kodiaq is good value for money.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
When fitted with the 1.4 TSI petrol engine tested, this version of the Kodiaq has an official fuel economy figure of 40.9 MPG, and emits 156 g/km CO2. What I found in real-world testing is that the Skoda gets pretty close to that fuel economy figure, with the trip computer reporting 36.0 MPG. That's after a varied set of test conditions and speeds, so it should be a good indicator as to what is achievable in normal driving. The Kodiaq's CO2 emission figure means it costs £515 for the first year to tax - included in a car's OTR cost - and then £140 a year thereafter, since it's well under the Premium Rate mark of £40,000.
The Kodiaq has a number of systems to help out with efficiency. The most prominent one is the drive mode select system, which allows drivers to put the car into Eco mode to reduce the drain of auxiliary systems and reduce throttle response. The car's infotainment system also offers a large amount of eco-driving information, plus a green score to show how economically (or not) you've been driving. Also included is engine stop/start, which cuts the engine instead of letting it idle. According to our calculations, the model tested has a Next Green Car Rating of 54.
As we have come to expect from Skoda, equipment levels on the Kodiaq are excellent. This Sportline model features a sports multifunction steering wheel, 20-inch alloys, Alcantara upholstery with sports seats, aluminium trim, auto-dimming rear view mirror, carbon fibre finish, colour trip computer, 9.2-inch Columbus sat-nav system with DAB, Bluetooth, and smartphone compatibility. Also included are cruise control, drive mode select, cornering LED front fog lights, electric tailgate, LED headlights, keyless entry & start, metallic paint, rear parking sensors, light and rain sensors, Sportline design details, and seven seats.
For those needing to cart around a family and all their kit, the Kodiaq is one of the best cars on the market. Not only is it spacious, filled with clever details, good value for money, and relatively frugal, it also looks good and feels bombproof. There are few better family cars in any sector, and the Sportline trim fitted to the test model is likely to pull in a new range of customers.
Model tested: Skoda Kodiaq 1.4 TSI 4x4 Sportline
Body-style: Large SUV
Engine / CO2: 1.4 TSI 150hp petrol engine / 156 g/km
Trim grades: S, SE, SE L, Sportline, Edition
On-road price: Sportline from £32,475. Price as tested: £34,640
Warranty: Three years / 60,000 miles
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 4.0 Stars