Skoda Kodiaq review: ‘It easily swallows all your kit and clobber’
Top speed: 121mph
0-62mph: 9.8 seconds
If you are under 25, you’ll have no idea that Kojak was a bald, lollipop-sucking cop with a hit 70s TV show and a brilliant catchphrase. If you are under 25, you’ll also marvel at the fact your dad thinks it’s hilarious to say, “Who loves ya baby?” every time he climbs into Skoda’s new Kodiaq. Some jokes don’t actually get funnier with repetition… But what is definitely beyond any kind of joke is Skoda. The Czech brand continues to reinvent itself and now has award-winning models at every level, from the tiny Citigo up though the Fabia, Octavia, Superb, Yeti and now the Kodiaq.
The “Skodiaq” is the biggest car in the line-up and the first to offer seven seats. At first it looks like a slightly cumbersome SUV, and certainly it has 4×4, decent ground clearance and can tow up to 2.5 tonnes. But look again and you’ll see it actually has a lot in common with an estate car. It’s only 4cm longer than the Octavia estate and its slim lines and deceptively low roof means it isn’t overly bulky. It’s neat enough to be drivable in towns without annoying everyone else, and you’ll be able to manoeuvre it in a multistorey without breathing in every time you pass a concrete pillar.
Despite its neat footprint, it has a pelican-sized gullet even by Skoda standards when it comes to swallowing personnel and clobber. I drove it across France at the end of the summer with all seven seats filled with family and friends. In fact, it was the longest one-day drive I’ve ever done: a heroic 625 miles in 14 hours, including a ferry crossing, and we barely had a complaint from the back rows. The Kodiaq’s back seats slide, so even the passengers in the gods had knee room. With all seats up, there is still a small boot, but with so many on board a roof box becomes essential. If you only carried five and folded flat the final two seats, you’d have a vast storage area. I’d been intending to fill this with cheap wine to bring back across the Channel, but sadly had to put my children first.
Load luggers like the Kodiaq earn their keep by being able to move a lot of kit and kaboosh in relative comfort and at affordable prices. Drivers are often not that bothered by handling, so it’s a bonus that it feels light on its feet and well-balanced, even coming out of fast bends. It’s also remarkably refined on the open road: sitting quietly in the middle lane it sucks up the miles with its efficient engines. I drove the 2-litre turbo diesel with 148bhp. But unless you are doing huge distances you’ll find the 1.4-litre petrol variant even quieter and smoother and, of course, cleaner.
Equipment levels are excellent. Goodies include an 8in infotainment screen with one of the most trustworthy satnavs I’ve encountered. You can link it to your smartphone, too. On top of that there are full parking sensors, dynamic cruise control and a raft of safety features. You’ll be very happy spending time at the wheel.
So, we have a spacious, well-built, affordable family wagon with excellent residuals in the long term. Skoda has also sprinkled the Kodiaq with many little surprise and delight features: there’s an umbrella tucked into a hidden recess in the front door; the ingenious cup holder means that if you push a bottle into it you can unscrew a tight lid with one hand; and there are clever pop-out rubber protectors so that when you swing your door wide you don’t chip the paint on the garage wall. What more could you want?
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