Want to buy a seven-seater 4x4 that doesn't cost the earth and isn't a diesel? Skoda's petrol-powered Kodiaq might just be the answer
- Skoda's Kodiaq is a stylish seven-seater that offers an affordable petrol SUV
- A mid-range 1.4 litre petrol 4x4 automatic SE L Kodiaq costs £31,335
- But a seven-seat petrol Kodiaq can be had for less than £25,000
- We spent a week with the Skoda Kodiaq to put it through the tests of family life
It seems odd at a time when car makers are falling over themselves to offer the world SUVs that a buyer could struggle to find what they want.
Yet, if you’re in the market for a seven-seater 4x4 at the affordable end of the market then you might end up with a particular problem – finding one that comes with a petrol engine.
Glance around our roads and it seems as if those looking for a mid-range SUV are spoilt for choice, but combine the need for three rows of seats with membership of a growing group of drivers who don’t want a diesel car and it’s slim pickings.
The good news is that into this gap has rolled the Skoda Kodiaq. It’s Skoda’s first ever proper SUV and its first seven-seater. It’s also keenly priced and comes with a petrol engine.
The Skoda Kodiaq is an affordable seven-seater 4x4 that starts at under £30,000 and comes with a petrol engine, but it's still smart enough to fit into the poshest neighbourhoods
That makes the Skoda Kodiaq stand out from the established runners and riders in the field of four-wheel drive SUVs that can seat seven.
Neither the hugely popular Kia Sorrento, nor the Hyundai Santa Fe, come with a petrol option, and while you can buy a petrol Nissan X Trail, you can’t get a 4x4 automatic version.
Of course, it is possible to get a petrol seven-seater 4x4 if you spend big, but we’re not sure that something like the 4.4 litre V8 in the £65,000 BMW X5 xDrive50i is the answer to the question being posed here.
Of course, the Skoda Kodiaq comes with a selection of diesel engines, which are still expected to be the biggest sellers, but it also crucially comes with three petrol options: two versions of a 1.4 litre TSI engine at 125 PS and 150 PS and a 2.0 litre TSI at 180 PS.
The middle of the range SE L with seven seats, 4x4, an automatic gearbox and that 150 PS petrol engine has an on the road list price of £31,335.
Interestingly, another option has also recently arrived for such a buyer in the form of Land Rover’s decision to now offer its Discovery Sport with a 2.0-litre petrol engine. It’s higher powered than the Skoda at 240bhp, but it also costs quite a lot more, starting at £35,050.
So the Skoda is keenly priced, as well as spacious and stylish, does that make the Kodiaq the answer to the affordable, petrol, seven-seater, SUV conundrum?
We spent a week with one to find out.
The Kodiaq takes the Skoda family look and extends it to a handsome SUV shape
What you need to know about the Skoda Kodiaq
The Kodiaq represents Skoda’s first crack at the SUV market and it has pulled off something of a coup, attracting plenty of praise from the specialist motoring press’s review teams.
It's got stylish looks that are a bit more Tonka toy than some of its blobbier SUV rivals - and the air of a car that costs considerably more than its fairly modest price tag.
It comes with a choice of petrol and diesel engines and in both five and seven-seater guises. You can also opt for two or four wheel drive.
The diesels on offer are two versions of a 2.0 litre TDI engine putting out either 150 PS (148bhp) or 190 PS (188bhp).
The petrol choices are a selection of 1.4 litre TSI engines at either 125 PS (123 bhp) or 150PS (148bhp), or a bigger, thirstier and higher C02-emmitting 2.0 litre TSI at 180 PS (178bhp).
Trim levels start at the basic S, then step up through SE to SE Technology, SE L and the range-topping Edition. All except S are available with seven seats, with the third row of seats folding down flat into the Kodiaq’s sizeable and practically-shaped boot.
All of the Kodiaqs come with a touch screen, which is 6.5 inches at S level but at least 8 inches at SE and above. Stepping up the range moves you from standard 17 inch alloys at S level, to 18 inch at SE and 19 inch at SE L.
It’s the petrol engine options that make the car stand out in the market, so we asked Skoda for one of those to review.
The Skoda Kodiaq starts at £22,190 for the 1.4 TSI 125 PS SE five-seater, which is the smallest petrol engine with two-wheel drive in the lowest spec. The more luxurious and higher-powered petrol option with four-wheel drive and seven seats is the SE L DSG automatic 4x4 1.4 litre TSI 150 PS at £31,335
The car we spent a week with was the SE L DSG automatic 1.4 litre TSI 150 PS.
That specification gets you among other things, seven seats as standard, some very stylish and soft Alcantara upholstery, foldable door mirrors, the 9.2 inch Columbus version of its touch screen, sat nav and infotainment, a selection of driving modes and an electrically operated boot.
The big addition on the options list on our car was the £3,050 Area View with Rear LED lights, which uses surround-view cameras to see a virtual top-down view and 180-degree images from the areas to the front and rear on the screen.
Our Skoda Kodiaq came in in Black Magic Pearl Effect, with this metallic paint a further £555 option, and it looked very smart indeed - although
The Kodiaq’s styling is crisp while retaining an obvious Skoda family look. It’s a classy looking car and as it is still a relatively rare sight on the UK’s roads it attracted a few interested observers. In fact, one of my neighbours, who is a car fan, was quite taken by it and wanted to have a good look round and sit in it.
Inside the Kodiaq, the SE L spec gets you Alcantara seats which add a nice touch to the stylish and well laid out cockpit
Passengers in the back of the Kodiaq get plenty of legroom, with the middle row of seats able to slide backwards and forwards
Slide the middle row forwards and the rearmost passengers will have reasonable legroom. There's plenty of room for kids but taller teenagers and adults won't find it as spacious
What’s it like inside?
In all reality, the feel of the interior combined with the looks is the bit that will sell the Kodiaq to family buyers.
Most are happy to sacrifice driving dynamics for a comfortable place to sit, decent infotainment technology, plenty of room for the family and a big practical load-lugging space.
Those boxes are well ticked on the Kodiaq, although you'll find yourself having to turn to the options list for some elements that some would consider essential, such as electric front seats.
The Kodiaq is spacious inside and the sharp lines and good use of glass give it an airy feel. The driver sits high up and gets a commanding view off the road and surroundings and visibility is good by modern-day car standards.
The driver and passenger sit raised up above the traffic in comfortable heated front seats, with a cockpit that’s well laid out and looks pretty classy, those Alcantara seats adding to the atmosphere. The Kodiaq’s cabin isn’t up in Audi and Volvo territory, the pair rightly judged to be leading the big car making pack at the moment, but it is a very pleasant place to be.
Skoda Kodiaq 150 PS 4x4 DSG
Car tested: SE L seven-seat
Engine: 1.4 litre TSI petrol
Power: 150 PS (148bhp)
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Price: £31,335 on the road
0 - 60mph: 9.7 seconds
Top speed: 122 mph
Combined MPG: 44.8mpg
VED: £140 after first year
At 4.7 metres long, the Kodiaq is a sizeable car but not huge - it’s less than 3 centimetres longer than the Octavia hatchback and at 1.88 metres wide it not quite 7 cm broader than the Octavia.
The Kodiaq uses its space well and the middle row of seats' ability to slide back and forwards means that even with the tallest drivers you won’t need to worry about legroom in the back.
In fact, stick an average height driver or passenger in the front and put the second row of seats into the middle setting and there’s more than enough room back there.
Alternatively, you can slide that second row all the way back and give rear passengers a lot of legroom indeed.
That still leaves you plenty of room in the Kodiaq’s huge boot, as long as the final row of seats is folded flat down into the floor.
Lift those up, however, to make it a seven-seater and you will need to sacrifice some of the second row’s legroom and your boot space. You can still get the shopping in, or whatever else you need to take with you, and could probably fit a decent-sized buggy with all seven seats in use.
Legroom and space in the final row is fine for children and better than many rivals for adults, but stick any tall adults or teenagers in there for a long period of time and you’ll probably end up with some complaints.
Unless you’ve got a big family, it’s likely that the final row of seats might not be called into action all the time. If that’s the case they fold up and down easily. You can flip one down and combine extra load space with a six-seater if you so desire.
Fold down the middle row of seats as well and you have a load space that’s more than big enough for almost any tip, IKEA or DIY store run.
Even with the final row of seats in use there is a reasonable amount of bootspace in the Kodiaq
The final row of seats fold down flat into the floor to turn the Kodiaq into a five-seater with a substantial and very practical loading space. If you want you can also use it with just one rear seat down to extend load space and have a six-seater
What’s the Skoda Kodiaq like to drive?
On paper, the 1.4 litre 150 PS petrol Kodiaq doesn’t look all that. A 0 to 60mph time of 9.4 seconds isn’t too bad, especially when you consider the size of the engine powering all that car, but it won’t be winning you any games of Top Trumps.
Get behind the wheel though and the 1.4 litre TSI Kodiaq feels pretty brisk. It’s as quick as you need a big family seven-seater SUV to be and delivers what you require in the mid-range for overtaking and accelerating onto the motorway.
I was also pleasantly surprised by the Kodiaq’s handling. Don’t expect any particularly thrilling B-road exploits in it, but for a big car that you ride up high in, it handles well. There’s not too much roll and it doesn’t wallow around in the corners.
The assisted steering is light and a fairly feedback-free zone and the ride is on the firm side of good, probably not aided by the bigger 19-inch alloy wheels that come with the SE L spec. The car is quiet and the smooth DSG automatic gearbox is ready to step in with the right answer on demand.
The Kodiaq is a car you are more than happy to take out, ideal for switching your mind into waft mode and enjoying trundling about in.
We didn't test the Kodiaq off-road, but then neither will many owners, however, the 4x4 system should be more than adequate to cope with the demands that most people make of it. That will largely amount to dealing with snow and ice on the odd wintry day, or making the occasional trek across a muddy field or track.
Skoda hasn't really played up the mud-plugging ability - although it has released a few gentle off-roading promo shots - but has said that its off-road feature brings assistance systems, including Hill Descent Assist.
Skoda has released a few gentle off-roading shots to plug the Kodiaq's 4x4 ability but don't expect to be racing any Land Rovers up a mountain
The Cars & motoring verdict
In a week spent with the Skoda Kodiaq, I managed to put it through a fairly typical test of family life.
It did short journeys around town, both with just me and with the kids, did some longer motorway family trips, and even a run back from B&Q with both my daughters and some awkwardly large plywood sheets squeezed into the back.
It accomplished everything that was thrown at it with ease and was both a thoroughly usable and reasonably enjoyable car to drive.
There are a few criticisms. Moving the middle row of seats about to get people in and out of the final row is not as smooth as it could be and the ride could be a bit more forgiving.
It is keenly priced, so you can't complain too much, but you will need to splash out some extra cash on the options list for creature comforts such as electric seats, both front and rear parking sensors, or a reversing camera.
But overall the Kodiaq is practical, stylish and is a nice place to be.
When compared to its rivals it also looks very good value, especially if you want that all-important petrol engine.
If the Kodiaq doesn’t prove a hit for Skoda, I’ll be very surprised.
The Kodiaq's posh enough to fit in at a wedding too, says Jenny Coad
The Skoda Kodiaq fitted in nicely among the luxury touches at a boutique hotel, says Jenny Coad
You might expect the car park at the Pig near Bath to be filled with Land Rovers.
After all, the cosy rustic hotel has a thoroughly British outlook, supporting and stocking brands like Chase vodka, which is distilled in Hertfordshire by the same company responsible for Tyrrells crisps. The beauty products in the bathrooms are by Bramley, made in the Somerset countryside.
But when I turn up in the Skoda Kodiaq Edition, there are three other Kodiaqs in situ and not a Land Rover in sight. And even in these stylish surroundings, those four Kodiaqs fitted in nicely.
But, down to business. What Car? named the Kodiaq best large SUV for 2017 in their Car of the Year awards and that’s partly down to price.
The model I’m driving is a near top-of-the-range 2.0 TDI 190PS 4x4 DSG in Edition trim and costs £35,360 - good value compared to top spec premium rivals.
The Kodiaq is supremely roomy, with 2,065 litres of boot space with the seats down. Transporting my sister’s wedding dress, bunting and associated paraphernalia is no problem. Plus it’s comfortable in the back making it a solid family option.
It also seems to offer every assistance. The boot is electrically operated, which I don’t usually like as it can be slow, but it gets on with the job swiftly. The wing mirrors retract when you park and there are parking sensors galore, so you can’t really go wrong.
Standard equipment on all Edition models includes chrome roof rails, so it will suit sporty sorts too. Because there’s nothing more annoying than having to remove a wheel to get your bike in the boot or compromising on luggage when you’re going on a cycling holiday.
Edition models also have umbrellas in the front doors – hurrah! Skoda can’t promise you won’t leave them in a coffee shop, but you can store all the replacement versions here neatly.
Useful, discreet storage is something of a speciality. There’s a concealed compartment in the dashboard, the front armrest has a storage box and the cup holders grip bottles so you can actually undo the lid for a swig while you’re on the move.
The Kodiaq has a well laid out dash and central touch-screen infotainment
We have mixed results with the Columbus satellite navigation system (it has a touch screen) which seems to get confused in congested London. It does, though, warn you of changing speed limits and also shows you how many feet you are above the sea. And that’s the sort of detail that becomes a talking point on a long journey.
But if you can’t be bothered to chew the fat, you can pair the infotainment system with your phone and listen to your own music.
It’s an easy and smooth drive, though I did find it a little slow to get going up the twisting hills of the impressive Cheddar Gorge. But, when it did, whoosh.
My sister liked it so much, she began to wonder about commandeering it as her wedding car. But, in the end she had to settle for my dad’s ageing Freelander, fondly known as Frieda.
And, dressed in a big yellow bow that was just fine.
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