The beautiful coastline of Mallorca, Spain, provides a stark contrast for a car that’s named after an Alaskan bear. Still, the Škoda Kodiaq stands its ground, painting a handsome picture against the backdrop of the Mediterranean Sea. It is 4.7m long, with an upright stance, squared-off wheel arches and a large grille giving it a muscular look and flowing lines, making it more athletic than brawny. Intricate details on the headlight LEDs meant to look like Czech crystal, sharply contoured tail lamps and a neatly surfaced tailgate add to the flair.
The interior has a fairly conventional layout, but you get a sense of occasion as soon as you enter the cabin. The textured plastic that imitates wood or the soft plastics that adorn the dash all feel top-quality; the 8-inch touch screen has sharp graphics, is easy to read and works intuitively; and the panoramic sunroof and large glass areas make the Kodiaq feel even more spacious than it already is. There are many Škoda’s trademark “Simply Clever” touches, but one in particular stands out—the rubber guard that unfolds every time you open a door, to prevent damage to the frame in case the door knocks against another object.
Škoda’s strength has always been spacious seating and the Kodiaq follows that tradition. The middle row has loads of legroom and is wide enough to seat three comfortably—and access to the third row is easy enough. The seating height is a bit on the lower side in this row, but you can slide the middle row forward to get more legroom. Put the third row of seats down, and there is enough boot space to be able to move home.
The Kodiaq comes with a list of fancy features and we certainly hope that ones like the 360-degree camera, wireless phone charging, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will be included in the car that is eventually sold in India.
The Kodiaq will come to India with a 2.0 litre TSI petrol engine with 180hp and 250Nm, as well as a 2.0 litre TDI diesel rated at 150hp and 340Nm. The diesel, extremely refined, is barely audible even when pushed hard. On the whole, in fact, the Kodiaq offers a refined experience that shuts out all outside sound and makes you feel cocooned.
Refinement, fortunately, has not come at the cost of performance. The diesel engine reaches cruising speeds effortlessly. With its linear power delivery, it will make India’s stop-start driving conditions feel like an effortless experience. Small dabs on the throttle serve up power instantaneously, and the gearbox, though not one of the quickest, shifts efficiently enough. If you want a quicker reaction, all that’s needed is a yank on the paddle-shift controllers behind the steering.
The petrol engine is all that we expect from the TSI family of motors—it’s smooth, refined and powerful from the word go. In fact, it reaches 100 kmph from standstill in a respectable 8 seconds and feels really enjoyable to drive.
As far as the dynamics go, the Kodiaq, though large in its dimensions, doesn’t feel bulky behind the wheel. It shrinks around you and even on the narrow coastal roads, we felt absolutely at ease driving it. The steering is on the lighter side, which makes it seem nimble on its feet, and it stays light even as you pick up the pace. It doesn’t quite offer the feedback one would like at a quicker pace, but it’s predictable and has a consistent response. On the whole, the Kodiaq tackles corners in a composed manner.
The roads in Mallorca were way too smooth for us to really get a sense of the ride, but in general it was flat and composed, with the suspension set up on the firmer side. We will get a better sense of the ride when the Kodiaq heads to India around Diwali.
With prices expected to be around Rs27-35 lakh, the Kodiaq has some tough competitors in the form of the Toyota Fortuner, Ford Endeavour and Hyundai Santa Fe. It does have the ability to stand out in a crowd, given the kind of space it offers inside, and a strong pair of engines.
In fact, the Kodiaq definitely delivers on the core values of Škoda, namely space, comfort, practicality and tech, and is definitely an SUV to look forward to.