Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
Despite the demonisation of diesel, the 148bhp 2.0 TDI 150 engine makes sense from a pure performance point of view. It's gutsy enough to haul up to seven people around with little drama and pulls effortlessly from low speeds, so joining fast-moving motorways is easy.
If you plan on towing with your Kodiaq and don’t want to lose any performance, you can opt for the more powerful 187bhp 2.0 TDI 190. This will easily handle pulling a caravan up a steep hill, for example, and puts the Kodiaq’s performance more in line with its quickest rivals. The most powerful 237bhp 2.0-litre diesel is reserved for the Kodiaq vRS, which we’ve reviewed separately.
However, looking at the bigger picture we think the 148bhp 1.5 TSI 150 petrol makes the most sense overall. True, it lacks the low to mid-range gutsiness of the diesel, but that's only a problem when the car's filled to the gunwales with people and luggage. On those occasions you will need to rev it harder, but the rest of the time it's absolutely fine, with more poke than a Peugeot 5008 1.2 Puretech 130. And, as we'll discuss later on in the Costs section, it's a lot cheaper. The 187bhp 2.0 TSI 190 petrol adds that missing bit of performance but ramps up the price and running costs.
Suspension and ride comfort
The Kodaiaq isn't as pillowy soft as the five-seat only Citroën C5 Aircross, but the up side is that it doesn't sway about as much, and it's far less jarring than the Nissan X-Trail. Indeed, if you resist the temptation to add big alloy wheels, you'll enjoy a generally comfortable ride.
True, the overall ride quality of the Peugeot 5008 is higher because the Kodiaq isn’t as cushioning over broken town roads, but when you find yourself on faster A-roads and motorways, the Kodiaq is all but a match for the Peugeot's relaxed gait.
The optional adaptive suspension, called Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC), is available on four-wheel drive models from SEL trim and above. It lets you stiffen or soften the ride at the touch of a button, but while it does improve the Kodiaq's ride in the softest setting, it's still not brilliant on patchy roads. And boy is it expensive, so we'd suggest it’s not worth the extra.
Large SUVs have a tendency to sway around quite a bit through corners, but less so the Skoda Kodiaq. Compared with rivals such as the C5 Aircross, X-Trail and Kia Sorento, it’s actually remarkably agile. Don’t expect it to scythe through bends like a Seat Ateca or an Audi Q2 (both are smaller, lower and lighter), but the Kodiaq remains fairly composed in fast direction changes and there’s plenty of grip. Four-wheel drive versions also add in more stability on slippier surfaces, which isn’t an option you have on the front-wheel drive only 5008.
The only fly in the ointment is the Kodiaq’s steering. It's fine around town but too light when you get out of the city limits; you get a better sense of connection to the front wheels in a Mazda CX-5, Seat Tarraco or Volkswagen Tiguan. The Driving Mode Selection system (standard on SEL trim and above; optional on the cheaper trims) allows you to add much-needed weight to the steering with its Sport mode.
Noise and vibration
The 2.0 TDI 150 diesel engine is pleasantly muted, especially compared with the diesel units in the Sorento and X-Trail, but the TDI 190 sounds noisier when you put your foot down. The 1.5 and 2.0 TSI petrols are even smoother and quieter than the diesels, but sound more strained than an equivalent C5 Aircross or 5008 Puretech petrol when pushed.
You don’t feel many vibrations filtering into the interior with any of the engines – something you can’t say about a few of the Kodiaq’s key rivals. There’s also little in the way of road noise on the motorway, although you do hear the wind whipping around the Kodiaq’s door mirrors.
The six-speed manual gearbox has a precise, satisfying action, and with its defined clutch bite and progressive brakes, it’s easy to drive the Kodiaq smoothly. Meanwhile, the optional seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox is slick and swift to change on the move, but can be jerky at parking speeds.
The Nissan X-Trail is okay in isolation, but there are rivals...
Great on interior space, comfortable and tidy to drive, but th...
The Mitsubishi Outlander wins no prizes for refinement or inte...
The Koleos is stylish and well equipped, but it’s not as spaci...