An SUV that’s named after an Alaskan bear, designed by a German-owned Czech company, is all set to make big moves in India. Siddharth Patankar drives this product of globalisation in Majorca.
The Kodiaq is what Skoda calls a compact SUV, though it goes on to say that this is the first time it’s making such a big vehicle! And while the Kodiaq is all set to take over as the brand’s flagship product, it’s still 160mm shorter in length than the current flagship – the Superb sedan. The Kodiaq is 4,697mm long and has a 2,791mm wheelbase, and is built on VW’s MQB platform. It’s a good-looking car with very distinctive and polarising looks. I say this because that’s the direction Skoda design has taken – edgy, angular, sharp and bejewelled with bohemian crystals. The creased metal and very well finished lighting elements are what will define the Kodiaq. The headlamps have a sharp LED daytime running light signature, and stand out now with the fog lights moving up into the bumper – just below the headlamp. I especially love the extremely angular taillight cluster.
The Kodiaq has multiple engine options, but the ones that matter to us in India are the 2-litre TDI diesel and TSI petrol motors. The latter has 177bhp and 320Nm of torque, while the diesel unit has two tuning specs – 147bhp / 340Nm and 187bhp / 400Nm. While Skoda initially only considered bringing us the 187bhp 2.0 TDI, it’s now considering all three – since the Indian market demand has shifted slightly over the past months. Having driven all three, my favourite is the 2.0 TDI with 147bhp – yes the less powerful version. Why? Well, it’s mated very well to the 7-speed DSG (also standard on the Indian spec, along with AWD) and uses a smaller turbo that offers quicker reactions. This is because it’s mapped for slower speed and city performance rather than highway cruising. This makes it ideal for India too. The petrol is also very smooth and extremely fun to drive. When it gets here, the Kodiaq’s performance should be right up there – and I expect only its cousin, the VW Tiguan, will match it. That car handles a shade better since it sports a shorter wheelbase, but the Kodiaq’s cornering and handling ability is admirable – and Indian buyers will love its ride quality.
And, in India, people will obsess over its extremely well designed three-row seating. And this is where Skoda scores on ingenuity and execution. The seats are easy to access, and the 2nd row also slides forward and back. This allows the 3rd row to get extra legroom when needed, which is a major plus. Another cool idea is the false bottom in the cargo bay that accommodates a retractable parcel shelf mount. So when you have the 3rd row folded down, you can pull it out and create a luggage area parcel tray. The car also has some of Skoda’s signature clever solutions like the cargo bay light that detaches and becomes a flashlight, foldable tray tables for 2nd row passengers and umbrellas inside the frame of the front doors. The new feature that has me bowled over are the pop-out door protectors (a rubber guard) that emerges and envelopes the edge of the door to avoid it from being damaged or causing damage to cars nearby. So no more dings! And, as you shut the door, it cleverly retracts – leaving no trace that it was ever there. Very cool!
The cabin is well finished, though I hope we get a slightly less dull palette on the Indian Kodiaq. The enhanced touchscreen infotainment system has a really good interface and it includes navigation, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The car gets lots of equipment and driver assistance systems, plus multiple driving modes – Comfort, Normal, Eco, Sport and Snow 4X4 – that alter the throttle, gearbox, steering, and even the air conditioning and other systems to suit the selected mode. The car has an all-wheel-drive (AWD) system that uses a multi-plate clutch that can alter torque distribution to the rear. It’s also equipped with Skoda’s Adaptive Dynamic Chassis Control.
Skoda says we should expect the Kodiaq to be priced around where the Superb currently tops-off. That means across variants prices should be around `30-35 lakhs – at which price point it’ll compete with the Endeavour, Fortuner, Santa Fe and the Tiguan (which should also arrive this year), and so Skoda will have to be careful to mix the right amount of value with premiumness in positioning the Kodiaq.
- Kodiaq 2.0 TSI 4X4
- Kodiaq 2.0 TDI 4X4
Transmission: 7-Speed DSG/ All-Wheel Drive
Power: 177bhp @ 3,900rpm
Torque: 320Nm @ 1,400rpm
Transmission: 7-Speed DSG/ All-Wheel Drive
Power: 147bhp @ 3,500rpm / 187bhp @ 3,500rpm
Torque: 340Nm @ 1,750rpm / 400Nm @ 1,750rpm
X Factor: The Kodiaq has all the refinement and panache that you would expect in a Skoda flagship.