Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
Despite the recent demonisation of diesel, that’s what we recommend for the Kodiaq. The entry-level version of Skoda’s 2.0-litre diesel engine, which produces 148bhp, is 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 a more powerful 2.0-litre diesel with 188bhp. This will be able to handle pulling a caravan up a steep hill, for example, and puts the Kodiaq’s performance more in line with that of rivals such as the Kia Sorento. The most powerful 237bhp 2.0-litre diesel is reserved for the Kodiaq RS, which we’ve reviewed separately.
If you want a petrol Kodiaq, there’s a 148bhp 1.5-litre turbocharged engine that’s fine for pootling around town but is a little short on guts when seven people are on board. The 190bhp 2.0-litre petrol adds that missing bit of performance when you load the Kodiaq to the brim, but you need to rev it harder than the diesels to get the best out of it, so we’d still stick with the more laid-back 148bhp diesel.
Suspension and ride comfort
The Kodiaq's standard suspension works well enough. Resist the temptation to add big alloy wheels and you'll enjoy a generally comfortable ride, particularly at cruising speeds on the motorway. It’s certainly far less bouncy than a Nissan X-Trail.
It gets better still if you order the optional adaptive suspension (called Dynamic Chassis Control). It’s available on four-wheel drive models only and can be stiffened up or softened off at the touch of a button. In its softest mode (called Comfort), the Kodiaq deals even more adroitly with road scars at higher speeds.
The ride is a little unsettled around town, though, in the same way it can be in the Land Rover Discovery Sport, and the firmer Normal and Sport modes amplify the problem so are best left well alone. In fact, the latter setting makes the ride downright uncomfortable, even on smaller, 18in wheels (19in ones are standard on the best-selling trims). Overall, The Peugeot 5008 remains the comfiest choice in the class.
Large SUVs have a tendency to sway around quite a bit through corners – but less so in the Skoda Kodiaq. Compared with rivals such as the Kia Sorento and Nissan X-Trail, it’s actually remarkably agile.
Don’t expect it to scythe through bends like a Seat Ateca or an Audi Q2 (they’re smaller, lower and lighter), but the Kodiaq remains fairly composed in fast direction changes and there’s plenty of grip.
The only fly in the ointment is the steering. It's fine around town but too light when you get out of the city limits; you get a better sense of connection with the front wheels in a Mazda CX-5. The Driving Mode Selection system (standard on SE L trim and above, optional on the cheaper trims) allows you to add much-needed weight to the steering by providing a weightier Sport mode.
Noise and vibration
The 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine is pleasantly muted, especially compared with diesel units in the Kia Sorento and Nissan X-Trail and even the more premium Land Rover Discovery Sport. The 188bhp 2.0-litre diesel is equally hushed at low revs but gets noisier earlier than the smaller unit, while the 1.5 and 2.0-litre petrols are smooth and quiet when cruising but noisier when pushed out of their comfort zone.
You don’t feel many vibrations filtering into the interior when accelerating 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 standard six-speed manual gearbox has a precise, satisfying action, and with its defined clutch bite and progressive brakes, the Kodiaq is easy to drive smoothly in traffic. Meanwhile, the optional six and seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearboxes are slick and swift to change on the move, but they can be jerky at parking speeds.