Škoda Kodiaq SE L, what’s not to like?

In Car Reviews, Skoda by Kieran Bicknell

I have to admit that I have positively no need whatsoever for a seven-seat vehicle in my life, but after spending a week with the Škoda Kodiaq SE L, I’m wondering if there is anyway I can justify it.

When I came home to find the Kodiaq had been delivered by Skoda whilst I was out, I found it somewhat amusing that it only just managed to fit into our parking space. Despite this slightly hilarious first impression though, initial design impressions are stellar – it’s a very good looking SUV indeed and sits well within Skodas new design language. The split headlight design mimics that found on the Karoq and new Kamiq, whilst the Kodiaq is more ‘squared-off’ than the Karoq, furthering its sense of purpose and putting the ‘utility’ in SUV. The tall ride height and large bonnet & front 1/3 give the Kodiaq well-balanced proportions, which also has the bonus of offsetting the additional rear length of the Kodiaq thanks to the third row of seats.

Having had a run of very good-looking but somewhat rough-riding cars with large alloys and low- profile tires, I was relieved and almost a little excited to see that the Kodiaq SE L sits on a set of 19” ‘Sirius’ wheels with good, meaty tires. Whilst not necessarily stylish, the Kodiaqs size and deep arches let the larger tire and wheel combination appear well proportioned rather than cartoonish, as is often the case with large sidewall tires.

Opening the driver’s door to step inside, I got my first taste of Skodas ‘simply clever’ design with the Kodiaq presenting me with automatic pop-out door protectors that emerge from the door when opened past a certain angle (around 1/4 open) to help protect your doors against walls or other door-destroying objects; Perfect for parking in tight car parks, garages or for less-than- careful children. Further ‘easy living’ features come in the form of a power tailgate, keyless entry and dual-zone climate control.

With a big car usually comes a big family – and therefore a lot of ‘stuff’ often needs to be packed for long journeys and the like; The Kodiaq SE L is in its element here, with enough storage to hide the entire contents of Her Majesty’s jewellery collection should you wish. The boot offers a whopping 630 litres with seats 6&7 down, and a very usable 270 litres with them up, not to mention a gargantuan 2005 litres with both rear seat rows folded, though it is worth noting you can only use the luggage compartment cover with the rearmost row of seats folded flat, so bear this in mind if transporting objects of value that need hiding from view.

Cubbyholes, pockets and storage slots appear almost everywhere you look in the Kodiaq, meaning you should be able to carry almost everything you need to keep the family amused on a long journey in the cabin itself, rather than having to make numerous annoying stops to retrieve requested items from the boot.

Despite not being a top-spec model, the quality of the interior in the Kodiaq SE L is very impressive and compares favourably to the likes of the higher-spec Karoq ‘Edition’ that I had on test the week prior to this (INSERT LINK TO KAROQ PIECE HERE.) Plush microsuede seat inserts add some luxury to the cabin and are fantastically comfortable even on very long journeys, whilst the deep windows afford plenty of light, even for those in the third row. As expected, legroom is abundant for the first and second row of seats, and even for the third-row legroom isn’t too bad so long as the second row slide their seats forward to accommodate the passengers in seats 6 and 7. Accessing the third row is also somewhat of a tricky affair, owing to the entry method being to fold down the seats in the second row and climb across – I’m not sure there is actually any way of doing this gracefully, and therefore perhaps these seats are best left for children unless this is unavoidable.

Infotainment is controlled via the 9.2” touchscreen mounted into the dashboard, offering Apple CarPlay and Android Auto via USB input. You can mirror the navigation instructions onto the information screen in the centre of the instrument cluster, though I did find this was slow to update and changed far too late – with a particular incident finding me in the left lane of a three-lane roundabout when I needed to turn right – not a problem if you just follow the nav on the main screen, but a potentially dangerous issue if you’re only using the instrument panel nav which is unusual for Skoda given the well-thought-out safety and design features of the Kodiaq.

Initially, I’ll admit I was somewhat intimidated at the thought of having to manoeuvre the Kodiaq around our tightly-built parking area, let alone on the winding roads of Hampshire and the New Forest. Mercifully, however, the Kodiaq does a fantastic job of hiding its size on the road, only really reminding you that you’re driving a big seven-seater when parking or making particularly tight manoeuvres.

As mentioned earlier, the deep windows of the Kodiaq allow plenty of light into the cabin but also afford the driver and occupants a fantastic view out, ensuring that despite the size of it the visibility from the Kodiaq is excellent. The classic SUV trait of sitting you above the rest of the traffic on the road comes into play with the Kodiaq too, making you feel a strange sense of power as you ride elevated above the likes of mere mortals in coupes and sedans below you. There is a practical aspect to this too when manoeuvring, though admittedly this is also the cause one of the Kodiaqs few faults, as when parking front visibility is limited due to the length of the bonnet; Admittedly this is offset thanks to the provision of front parking sensors, but when trying to judge low kerbs, bollards or verges it does prove tricky as these are not always detected by the sensors.

The 1.5 TSi 150PS engine in the model tested proved more than adequate for hauling the Kodiaq around, and despite its bulk, it never once felt underpowered or sluggish at all – even when going uphill or merging onto motorways, though it is likely that the Diesel engines will be the big sellers.

The six-speed gearbox was accurate and mimicked that of the Karoq in being surprisingly slick, whilst steering feel and input were also better than I would’ve expected to find in a large family SUV such as this, making it a good choice for those that like a more engaging driving experience even whilst on family taxi duty. I was also impressed with the economy of the 1.5 TSi engine, as, despite the official figure being quoted as 37-35mpg, I saw around 40/41mpg for the majority of my time with the Kodiaq – practical AND economical, what’s not to like?

So where are the pitfalls then; The reasons NOT to pop down to your nearest Skoda showroom and buy a Kodiaq? Well… there isn’t too many in all honesty. Base spec SE models are lacking somewhat in kit so I’d recommend entering the world of Kodiaqs at SE L specification at the minimum, which is also coincidentally the ‘sweet spot’ in terms of cost vs equipment. Higher-end models are pricey, with Edition and L&K models sitting atop the roost with plenty of luxurious additions, though they are all the same underneath. Skoda recently announced that the rugged ‘Scout’ model will be removed from their lineup, but with plenty of AWD engine options, this shouldn’t impact your buying choices or options too much. There are a few petty complaints too, such as the lack of automatic wipers in a car that is over £30k, whilst the aforementioned navigation issues were also a bit of a sore point, unfortunately.

With a car this big, I think it’s fair to say you need to justify its size, whether that’s regularly carrying 7 people, often loading up the car or taking plenty of long family road trips or holidays where the extra space is a blessing. With its smart design, great looks and endless practicality, if you can justify having a seven-seater, I heartily recommend the Kodiaq SE L. Now, back to doing some man maths to see if I can justify one for myself…

Car reviewed: Škoda Kodiaq SE L, on the road price £30,950 with options as tested £32,470 0-62mph 9.9secs Top speed 124mph Engine 1.5TSi 4 cylinder unleaded Euro 6.2 Fuel Economy WLTP Combined 37.2 – 35.3mpg CO2 emissions 134g/km Max Power 150PS@3750rpm Torque 250Nm Transmission 6-speed manual

Kieran Bicknell

Motoring writer

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.