Priced from £33,120 Release date On sale now
Ah the sporty trim level. Y'know, those M Sport BMWs, ST-Line Fords and FR Seats. They're extremely popular in the UK because car purchases aren't just about miles per gallon, how big the boot is or company car tax. Car purchases are also emotional, and if you want to look like a CEO, but have a middle-manager budget, they're a perfect fit.
Skoda has noticed this thirst for theatre, introducing its Sportline trim level to the UK. You'll already find it on models such as the Superb, but here we're focusing on the Skoda Kodiaq Sportline.
Of course, the matter of moving a big family around used to be the preserve of the MPV. These days, though, more and more people are taken by the prospect of SUV ownership, and Skoda is probably right in thinking that combining its seven-seat SUV with an aggressive-looking trim level will be a big hit.
The new trim sits between SE and SEL and brings 20in alloys, deeper, sportier-looking front and rear bumpers, a black grille, roof rails, door mirrors and window trims. Inside you're treated to a leather sports steering wheel, carbon-fibre effect dashboard and door trims and Alcantara sports seats.
Sportline is available with Skoda's 148bhp turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol, 178bhp 2.0 turbo petrol, or 2.0-litre diesel in 148bhp and 187bhp flavours. All get four-wheel drive and seven seats as standard. We're focusing on the cheapest Sportline of them all, the 1.4 petrol with a standard six-speed manual gearbox, although you can have an automatic if you'd prefer.
2018 Skoda Kodiaq Sportline on the road
We've tried this 1.4 petrol in the Kodiaq before and we like it: it has a nice linear power delivery and is brilliantly smooth all the way up to its redline. Together with Skoda's light, precise manual gearbox and well-weighted pedals its a very easy car to drive slowly in town.
Our only gripe is that town is where it feels strongest, because on faster roads more patience is required while it builds speed, often requiring a lower gear. It's certainly not terrible and will be fine for most buyers, but if you're constantly carrying seven people or frequently cross very hilly terrain, then the better low-down pull of the 148bhp 2.0 diesel will serve you better.
And like almost all sporty-looking trims, while Sportline trim will turn heads on the highstreet, it won't help you lap Silverstone quicker than Hamilton. The Kodiaq remains a tidy large SUV to drive, with high levels of grip and traction thanks in part to that standard four-wheel drive and decent body control when pushed hard through corners. The weakest link is still its steering, which is fairly precise, but feels a little too light.
At least the Sportline's standard 20in alloy wheels aren't as uncomfortable as their size might suggest. It remains true, however, that at low speeds the Kodiaq struggles to stay settled over broken surfaces (particularly in our test car which came without Skoda's optional adaptive dampers), but at least the huge wheels don't amplify that trait. Furthermore, take the Sportline up to motorway speeds and it starts to take ruts and bumps in its stride.
Those large alloys don't significantly increase road noise, either, so the Sportline is a quiet car at high speeds. There's little wind noise to frustrate you, either, while this petrol engine is nicely hushed at a cruise.
2018 Skoda Kodiaq Sportline interior
Not surprisingly, going for Sportline trim doesn't change the Kodiaq's interior dimensions, save for getting seven seats as standard. For an in-depth look at the Kodiaq's front and rear space, seating flexibility and its boot, head over to our full Kodiaq review.
The changes this trim does bring are out of place in a large SUV, but welcome all the same. The new sports steering wheel, for instance, seems a little unneccessary, but it is at least pleasant to look at and feels good in your hands. Similarly, the fairly deep Alcantara sports seats look like they're straight from a hot hatch and therefore a little out of place, but they do offer very good comfort and support.
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