Driving the Skoda Mountiaq: a wilderness-ready Kodiaq

Published: 06 June 2019

► Skoda Mountiaq pickup
► Sixth apprentice car
► Eight-month project

Skoda’s hard-working apprentices are making a real habit of this. The Skoda Mountiaq pickup is a one-off concept designed and built by trainees at the Skoda Vocational School in Mladá Boleslav, with the eight-month, 2,000-hour project resulting in a very mighty Kodiaq.

Keep scrolling for our drive of the mighty Mountiaq.

The beastly pickup weighs in at almost 2.5 tonnes, uses a 187bhp turbo 4cyl petrol with all-wheel drive and comes with a load of chunky off-road upgrades. A 10cm increase in ride height over a Kodiaq Scout is mainly due to the 17-inch wheels with fat and knobbly off-road tyres.

Skoda Mountiaq rear load bay

The ‘sunset orange’ paint (mixed specially by the students) might be the first attention grabber, but the Mountiaq has taken a leaf out of The Big Book of Concept Cars by sticking on a load of illuminated bits and pieces, namely the badge, engine bay, load bay and grille. A snorkel, bull bar and winch, plus a metal-trimmed loadbay (with an axe in storage?!) all suggest the Mountiaq means real business in the wilderness.

Skoda students have been creating these one-off cars for six years now, including a Fabia pickup called the Funstar in 2015, Element electric buggy in 2017 and convertible Sunroq in 2018.

Skoda Mountiaq pickup: behind the wheel

Skoda Mountiaq tracking cornering

Prague. Go kart track. Keys to a one-off built by petrolhead students. Sun. If that sounds like fun to you, you’re my kind of person. Skoda set up an event for media folk like us to get behind the wheel of this latest Academy car, and we just had to jump in.

As the Mountiaq rolls into the pit lane, you first realise just how right it looks – almost like the Kodiaq it’s based on has secretly been ready to be ute-ified all along. The bull bar, LED strip and massive off-road tyres give it serious presence. Lopping off half of the roof meant the team of 35 apprentices meant the new loadbay had to be reinforced. The wider track and arches also meant extra engineering to fit in the fat off-road rubber.

The fit and finish inside and out is genuinely impressive – nothing rattles, squeaks or looks half-finished. It looks and feels production ready, and something we really wish Skoda would actually make a reality. There’s tasteful upholstery, complete with a bespoke logo embroidered on the seats and gadgets everywhere; inside are torches, compasses and water bottles with carabiner clips, while in the load bay’s under storage, that aforementioned axe rubs shoulders with a foldable camping table and inflatable kayak. Then there are the silly bits, like the snorkel and the (genuinely fantastic) 2,000W amp and fitted subwoofer bathed in blue LED light.

Skoda Mountiaq Jake driving

Start it up and there’s a muscular burble from the exhaust – a tune that sounds far less artificial than that of the Kodiaq vRS’s punchy diesel. Otherwise, it’s just like you’re sat in any other Kodiaq model, albeit with a bright orange leather grabhandle for the DSG auto ‘box.

The 2.5-tonne kerbweight does blunt the performance of the 187bhp TSI petrol when you give the throttle a poke but that’s counteracted by the turbo; the positioning of the air snorkel naturally amplifies the turbo’s whooshes and flutters when you lean on and lift off the gas. It’s laugh-out-loud silly and not in any way artificial – like so many modern performance cars.

Skoda Mountiaq side pan

As for handling, the steering is a tad woollier than a regular Kodiaq, but that’ll be down to the off-road rubber, and it does roll a little more in sharp turns – the Mountiaq can blame its lardy kerbweight for that. Through the tight turns of the inner kart track, your hands are busier with the wheel but you don’t care.

This thing is just fun, personified. I couldn’t stop smiling when behind the wheel and it’s proof Skoda does have a wild side – it just happens to be in the minds of its eager apprentices. This year’s crop have outdone themselves, as I’d argue the Mountiaq is the best car to come out of the Vocational School so far.

Check out our Skoda reviews

By Jake Groves

CAR's deputy news editor, gamer, serial Lego-ist, lover of hot hatches