Skoda’s Kodiaq is the Czech manufacturer’s first attempt at building an SUV in India, and is the latest in a long line of launches this year. As part of the companies aggressive expansion policy for this year that was started by the Skoda Rapid Monte Carlo and Skoda Octavia RS this year. Skoda Kodiaq has been priced at Rs 34.49 lakh (Ex-Showroom) and is about 4 lakh more expensive than the equivalent diesel variants of Toyota Fortuner and Ford Endeavour. The Kodiaq is a premium SUV that has, on paper, everything one would need from a proper premium SUV.Let’s get on with the SUV then, Skoda Kodiaq despite being a proper SUV looks really compact and drives just like a premium sedan like the Skoda Superb. Don’t mistake me here, the Kodiaq has decent space and lot of features that takes the SUV a notch above its rivals but I fear just like the Skoda Octavia the Skoda Kodiaq might just have to live with the tag of an underrated vehicle, not if it under cuts the price of its rival which might not just be possible.
Like I said, Skoda Kodiaq looks compact and does not look bulky or heavy as the Toyota Fortuner or Ford Endeavour and still manages to give the SUV stance that a buyer is looking at this category. Call the Kodiaq the SUV version of Skoda Superb as most of the exterior and interior design elements are carried on to this new SUV. Remember, Kodiaq is also the first bet in SUV space from Skoda globally and the company has also decided to assemble the vehicle here in India at its Aurangabad. It shares it’s underpinned with Volkswagen Tiguan that made its market debut earlier this year. Kodiaq carries the Skoda’s family design language and sharp edges and crystal-like structure does stand out giving a fresh look in overall SUV segment. Skoda Kodaiq gets both soft treatments that reflect its elegant side and has just enough muscle to give it an aggressive look. However, the design does not reflect the rugged SUV look on SUVs that a few buyers prefer. But, that’s also because of the luxury quotient that Skoda has added on the Kodiaq.
The face of Skoda Kodiaq resembles to that of Skoda Superb. It gets the same front grille and the 3D shape bonnet with concealed shut line for that aggressive look. However, the Skoda Kodiaq gets a different headlamp cluster than any other Skoda cars. The placement of daytime running lamps (DRLs) are more angular and a bit curved. It features projector headlamps and the designers have also placed the fog-lamps in between the headlamps and the bottom grille that makes the Kodiaq look a bit more modern and has a rich touch with that crystalline feel to the overall face. The C-Shaped tail-lamp cluster is the same as seen on the Skoda Superb. On the side, Skoda Kodaiq gets aggrieve lines that have also helped in improving the overall dynamics of the SUV and carry the muscular look of the bonnet onto to the body of the vehicle.
Skoda has just done about right with the interiors of Kodiaq and thankfully just stopped before trying to overdo. While the overall placement of the dashboard is similar to that of other Skoda cars, there is a bit of gloss finish to the otherwise finished beige and dark grey finished interiors. The dashboard looks tidy and gets standard dials, steering wheels with mounted controls etc. The quality of plastics used is decent, however, you might take some time in using the electrically adjusted seat controls as they are very delicate and needs careful handling. The gloss finished second glove box compartment looks just a bit overdone but that’s what makes the dash stands out. The dash also gets an 8-inch infotainment system with navigation that also supports Apple Carplay, Google Android Auto and Mirror Link. The infotainment system can also be connected with Skoda’s Boss application that will allow you to control some of the features of the car by using the mobile app.
The second-row seating on the Kodiaq is nice and comfortable, there is enough space for proper three people seating and also gets a rear climate control option with rear A/C vents. Skoda Kodiaq also features a three-climate zone for proper air ventilation. The Indian version of Skoda Kodiaq is a 7-seater SUV but in my opinion, the third-row seats are hardly going to be used. Globally, Skoda Kodiaq does get a five-seat configuration as well but India will only get a single variant with a 7-Seat configuration. Small touches like reading lights, rear armrest with cup-holder. A good addition on the second–row headrest is probably the coolest thing on the Kodiaq and I’m surprised on why any other automaker has not been able to add that ever before. The headrest gets two additional bars that can be pulled out and will just come out till your shoulders on which you can rest your head and take a nap. This feature is really helpful especially on long drives both for adults and kids.
The third row of Skoda Kodiaq is comfortable enough to have two kids who are below 12 years of age. For adults the third row seats are too cramped and even the buyers of Kodiaq will most of the time have those seats put down to get that additional boot space. With all three seats up Skoda Kodiaq gets a bood space of 270 litres, with third row down the boot space goes up to 630L and with second-row seats also down the luggage space gets a massive 2005L of space.
The third different tuning of the same 2.0L TDI engine block has given Skoda the flexibility to add another powerful engine to its portfolio. We have seen the 2.0 TDI with 143 bhp on the Octavia, 177 hp on the Skoda Superb and the Kodiaq makes about 150 hp on the same engine. The power is just right for the Indian road conditions and even in narrow roads of Kovalam here in Kerala the both the engine and the steering were very responsive. The overall ride handling and suspension had no complaints. However, to my surprise, the 7-Speed DSG wasn’t as responsive as it is in other Volkswagen Group or even other Skoda cars. The gearbox responses slowly at medium speeds and that’s maybe because of the heavy kerb weight of the Kodiaq. Skoda claims a mileage of about 16 km on the Kodiaq and here at the tests the SUV was giving us a mileage of about 11-12 kmpl. The handling is so smooth that you tend to forget that you’re driving an SUV. Skoda Kodiaq certainly does not give that top SUV driving stance that is offered on the Fortuner or Endeavour but is certainly silent and doesn’t carry that heavy noise of diesel engine inside the cabin.
Overall, Skoda Kodiaq SUV is indeed a value for money proposition if priced below Rs Overall, Skoda Kodiaq SUV is indeed a value for money proposition at Rs 35 lakh price bracket. Skoda Auto India has to bank on the innovative, clever features that Kodiaq has and market them right to gain the customer’s attention. A flagship SUV in its product portfolio can ensure them good sales numbers and by bringing its first ever global SUV to India, Skoda has again established that India is an important market for the company. This will also make way for more SUVs and as we speak the Skoda Karoq (Skoda Yeti’s replacement) is being considered for the Indian market and may debut in 2019. The Indian arm of Skoda expects an overall growth of over 30% in 2017 and Kodiaq will indeed help the company to gain the required numbers. All set and done there are enough reasons that should worry Toyota and Ford with their SUV category, Kodiaq is a strong contender, it has everything right but the brand names Endeavour and Fortuner have deep connection with the Indian market and Skoda will have to play it right and there has to be enought visibility of the Kodiaq to ensure strong buying consideration for both first time SUV buyers and others looking for the second/replacing the older ones.
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