The car: Skoda Kodiaq 2.0 TDI SE L DSG Run by: Jim Holder, Editorial Director Why it’s here: To evaluate our Large SUV Car of the Year class winner over 12 months, and to assess Skoda's new range-topper Needs to: Be the consummate seven-seat SUV, delivering on practicality, comfort and frugality while justifying a price tag that puts it head-to-head with entry-level models from some premium car makers
Price £30,615 Price as tested £31,615 Miles covered 300 Official economy 56.5mpg Test economy 42.5mpg Options fitted Children’s pack (£175), metallic paint (£555), rear seat backrest release (£90), space saver (£100), textile floor mat set (£80)
3 August 2017 – the Skoda Kodiaq joins our fleet
As SUVs get better, offering an ever-broader range of talents, so we go on expecting more of them. We want space, comfort, practicality and style, technology that makes life easier, engine and gearbox combinations that are frugal, refined and fast enough and more - and all for a price that doesn’t break the bank.
Proof that if you don’t ask you won’t get comes in the form of this Skoda Kodiaq 2.0 TDI SE L DSG, the latest car to join our long-term test fleet. We already know that it is a car that delivers on pretty much every promise, because last January – in a slightly different spec – it scooped our Large SUV award at our Car of the Year celebrations.
Now it is our chance to evaluate how it copes with the biggest challenge of all – daily life of a typically urban commute, family life, where it will typically be put through its paces four up, and hard life, when we go seven up with some visitors, or want to slot a week’s worth of luggage and a couple of bicycles in the boot.
The choice of 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel was relatively simple; it is currently the best-seller in the UK, thanks to its ability to haul around a car as big as this, even when fully laden, without any hint of a problem. Linking it to a DSG automatic gearbox was also obligatory once we opted to go front-wheel drive rather than four-wheel drive – a decision that limits some of the Kodiaq’s capabilities but which comes with an upfront list price and ongoing running cost savings.
Later on in our 12-month tenure with the car, we’ll look to reflect the gathering swing in mood against diesel by comparison testing some of the petrol-powered range, but there’s little doubt that the torque and frugality of our diesel perfectly suit the type of car we’re testing.
That decision does have one key ramification, because you can only spec the adaptive cruise control or Dynamic Chassis Control on 4WD models. No big deal, you might reason, given the urge for selecting Sport mode on a family SUV is likely to be rare, but it is another point we will come back to re-evaluate. While the ride has so far proved decent on the standard, one-size-fits-all setting, there are circumstances – particularly on faster, very bumpy roads – where the suspicion is that the near £1000 price tag of DCC could be money well spent .
There are five trim levels in the Kodiaq range total, and if you discount the bookends for being too sparse or too excessive, and consider that SE Technology is only available for business buyers, that leaves SE and SE L. Our recommendation for most buyers is to stick with SE and add a couple of key options, but in the interests of testing out more of what’s on offer, and mindful of the fact that our choice retains the ideal Kodiaq’s five-star What Car? verdict, we've gone higher up the order.
Additions over SE include larger 19-inch alloys, LED lights, seven seats as standard, smart Alcantara upholstery, a larger 9.2in infotainment touchscreen, keyless entry and an electrically opening boot.
Raising the price further, we’ve gone for Moon White metallic paint (£555), a release for the rear seat backrests (£90), a space saver spare wheel (£100), a textile floor mat set (£80) and children’s pack (£175), which integrates blinds into the rear window, and allows for electronic disabling of the window buttons from the front. On first evidence what stands out most about these options is that they all seem very reasonable value, which resonates nicely with the Skoda brand ethos. So too do the unexpected extras that comes as standard, be it the umbrellas tucked in the front doors, the pop-out rubber door protectors that save scrapes in car parks or the ingenious cup holders that grip a bottle for you, so you can unscrew the lid one-handed.
However, those decisions have nudged us over the £31,000 mark – making our high-spec Skoda more expensive than a lightly specced entry-level Land Rover Discovery. It’s another interesting comparison that we’ll investigate further during the next 12 months, although the answer is likely to come down to how much value you put on having a premium badge on the bonnet of your car.
For now, though, we couldn’t be bursting with more pride even if there was a Rolls-Royce badge perched atop the bonnet. To our mind, buying a Skoda stands for good sense and a shrewd eye – and we can’t wait to find out if that proves to be true.
Got a motoring question? Our experts are standing by to help, just tweet us your question using #askwhatcar
For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here