Well established Czech car maker Skoda first launched in India with the luxury sedan Octavia, followed by the even bigger Superb, and has constantly impressed consumers since then.
Octavia and Superb have managed to make their mark. Now comes a product that's one notch higher and that's the premium SUV Skoda Kodiaq.
The Kodiaq is the first of Skoda’s new-age SUVs that we got to test drive. It very comfortably accommodates seven, comes with very plush and modern interiors and with all the high-tech features one would expect in a premium SUV. The SUV is named after an island in Alaska that’s home to the largest grizzly bear in the world.
The design as far as exterior goes is understated and meant perhaps for the more mature consumers. It pleasantly avoids the aggressive or almost brash look that most other SUV's want to boast about. It clearly appeals to the more sophisticated urban elite consumer. The Skoda identity and that high ground clearance for the all-important off-roader stance are all there.
The Kodiaq at 4.7m length is less than the Superb and only 40mm longer than the Octavia, is surprisingly compact. It isn’t as wide as other full-sized SUVs either. Compare the Kodiaq’s track to something like an Audi Q7, and the difference is apparent, with the Skoda at between 1,586mm and 1,576mm (F, R) and the Audi at 1,679mm and 1,691mm.
You get into the car to discover that the roomy feel is very much there. The rear seats have excellent comfort and lots of leg room and provide all the comfort that you would need on those long highway rides. The big rear bench offers plenty of support for your back and legs, the height is just right and the seats can be inclined to suit your needs. It’s also wide enough for seating three adults very comfortably.
The dashboard gives you an elegant feel and has all the latest digital displays. The multi-function screen has every bit of information you would need while you are driving and is placed perfectly almost like a head-up display in an aircraft cockpit. The wood finish gives you that classy look and feel, and you do get plenty of storage space in the front with the two gloveboxes, large bins on the doors and a massive elbow box.
Drive and Handling
As you would expect from a Skoda high-end car, the ride and handling of the Kodiaq is amazingly smooth and the gear shift in the automatic is effortless, however there may be some sluggishness at low-speed as the shift from the 2nd gear to 3rd always seems a bit delayed and the ride quality at that speed is also a bit brittle. This is especially true at low speeds, where, over some shaper-edged bumps, there is the odd crack and some occasional thump from the suspension. The sports mode immediately pushes the SUV on steep upwards slopes with additional force. The suspension has been set up to be slightly firmer than usual in an effort to control the body roll better, and what also plays a role here are stiffer anti-roll bars. As you pick up speed, the Kodiaq has the ability to flatten almost any bump.
Another thing owners will love about the SUV is the light, direct and quick steering. There isn’t much real feel and that can be an issue at higher speeds, but in the city, the steering needs next to no effort, and the Kodiaq steers so quickly, with little lock required, all you need to do is flick your wrists; elbows and arms are not really needed.
For entertainment and connectivity, there’s an 8.0-inch TFT screen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Amundsen navigation from Skoda. The screen works fabulously, operations are slick and even handling difficult tasks tend to be easier on this system. The only problem that we somehow could not get around is the constant beep the system produces when any other vehicle comes close to the Kodiaq. Even when you are driving on a crowded road or you stop at a signal, the beep goes up louder as any other vehicle is close to you and it cuts the music volume down till you manually offset this alarm. In city traffic, you are likely to face this problem often!
You even get an app called Boss Connect that allows you to use your phone as a remote from the back seat. And like the E-class, you can alter the ambient light to suit your taste with an option of 10 colours. There’s even a removable rear parcel shelf that stores under the floor, roller blinds for the rear windows, small dustbin in the doors and a slender space saver tyre under the floor.
Kodiaq offers the biggest in its class panoramic sunroof which really looks jumbo in size and it can enable four children or two adults to enjoy a safari ride off roads at any exotic destinations. It offers the AMUNDSEN NAVIGATION SYSTEM.
The top-range navigation and entertainment centre features a sharp and vibrant 8" colour touch-screen to display maps and other functions. It also offers a USB/Aux-in connection, SD card slot, Bluetooth and SmartLink Connectivity. The device can be used to control the car menu. It offers what it calls the Power Nap Package where the rear passengers will sleep gently through a long journey, thanks to the Power Nap Package. It includes variable headrests for the outer seats for a comfortably supported head posture while sleeping, plus blankets. It also provides with Foot Area Illumination. So the discrete illumination turns a comfortable space into an exceptional one. And then there is the Virtual Pedal which lets you open or close the luggage compartment when your hands are full. The virtual pedal enables contact-free access and it’s available exclusively with the electrically-controlled 5th door and KESSY (Keyless Entry, Start and exit system). And electrically-controlled 5th door which opens and closes at the mere touch of a button on the remote control or in the driver door, which is especially handy during unfavourable weather.
If price is not much of a factor and long road rides is part of your life, this should ideally be your choice as the next luxury SUV. A new species of SUV, as Skoda calls it!