I love the Škoda Kodiaq. It’s a big brute of an SUV with more capacity and space than I could ever feasibly need.
It’s also one of my favourite cars to drive from the Škoda range, but I couldn’t help feeling the manual transmission and TSi engine of the last one I tested felt ’at odds’ with the nature of the Kodiaq.
So, I decided in the interest of fairness; I should test the 2.0 TDi version, fitted with the DSG transmission. The spec is the same – both cars were in mid-range SE L trim which is the ‘sweet spot’ of the Škoda Kodiaq range, meaning this was more of a test of the drivetrain than the interior.
Knowing I had a significant amount of driving to do during my time with the Kodiaq – around 800 miles total – I was looking forward to giving it a thorough workout. The majority of these miles were motorway miles – the area that big SUVs usually excel at, so the Kodiaq should be the perfect fit for the situation.
Well, it turns out I was correct. The Kodiaq excelled in its role as a long-distance cruiser, and the 2.0 TDi engine was perfectly matched to the seven-seat SUV.
In fact, like most Škoda cars, it wasn’t just long journeys where it excelled. It worked for just about any situation you could throw at it. The permanent 4-wheel-drive system meant that floods, mud and just about any other surface could be navigated with ease. However, the fuel economy did suffer slightly because of it, with the Kodiaq struggling to register over the mid-40s. This meant that I spent more time at the pumps than I would’ve in the 2wd car, but in my opinion, the flexibility, adaptability and minor performance increase is worth the trade-off.
So, back to those motorway miles. I can safely say the Kodiaq left me wanting for nothing whatsoever. The SE L trim is well-equipped as standard, with the all-important heated seats and smartphone integration present. The infotainment system itself was wonderfully responsive and straightforward, while the microphone for the phone connectivity was impressively clear.
Of course, space is a significant factor for those buying a big SUV, and it’s safe to say the Kodiaq has that by the bucketload. With the rearmost row of seats up, the boot is admittedly pretty small (but still ideal for a quick shopping trip); however, with the third row folded, the Kodiaq comes into its own with a whopping 630litres of space or 2005litres with both sets of rear seats folded – who needs a van?
Upfront, there’s the usual “simply clever” design in the form of plenty of storage bins, cubby holes and a well-thought-out cockpit, with the seats proving to be wonderfully comfortable and surprisingly supportive on long 2-3 hour motorway slogs.
The performance of the 2.0TDi engine was nothing to shout about; however, the low-down torque and easy to drive nature of the Kodiaq made for an enjoyable time. I clocked up around 800 miles during my week with the car completely stress-free and relaxing.
So, what’s not to like? Well, very little. My biggest bugbear as a photographer with plenty of expensive gear is that you can’t use the luggage cover with the third row folded up, meaning any items in the boot are on show. Yes, if it’s not needed, you can fold it down, but then the ample space offered means that smaller items in the boot often end up sliding around and potentially getting damaged.
There’s also the third-row access issues, which are certainly not dignified and require an impressive degree of flexibility – best to leave these two seats for children only!
Finally, I found that while the piano black/gloss dashboard inserts looked attractive, they acted as a mirror in the sunlight, often causing worrying amounts of glare – perhaps some brushed trim would’ve been a better choice here?
So, come the end of my week, what was the verdict? Well, I still loved the Kodiaq just as much as before, even more so. While I loved the 1.5 TSi version, I always felt the manual gearbox and driving characteristics seemed at-odds with the bulk and weight of the Kodiaq, and the 2.0 TDi engine fixed all of those issues.
Honestly, the Kodiaq felt like the perfect photographers’ car – big, comfortable, able to access almost any location, and practical enough to accommodate any amount of gear.
Now, if only I could justify a seven-seat vehicle, the Škoda Koqiaq would be a perfect choice.
Star rating: 4.5/5
Kieran Bicknell offers his fresh take on car reviews by making the most of his dynamic, yet detailed approach to writing. Having graduated from university with a BA (Hons) in Photography and spending a number of years as a freelance automotive photographer. Kieran is now putting his knowledge and writing skills to use, with the ability to supply both written articles and imagery. Kieran feels at home in anything from small superminis to the latest SUVs, and relishes the opportunity to drive, photograph and write about anything with four wheels.
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