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Skoda Kodiaq long-term review: family guy goes to heaven

Published: 26 March 2019

► Skoda Kodiaq long-term test
► We live with the seven-seater
► It's the 2.0 TDI Edition AWD 

This Peugeot 5008 was the warm-up act before the Kodiaq took centre stage. Both are mid-size SUVs harbouring seven seats and about 7000 miles on the clock, both run the punchiest 2.0-litre diesels in their ranges. One car stands out for its design flair and practicality, the other feels better engineered, with superior refinement and dynamics.

No prizes for guessing which is which. The 5008 enlivened every journey with its stylish cockpit – concave dashboard panels trimmed with cloth, tasteful blue lighting ringing the cupholders and glass roof, sumptuous quilted leather seats – and top-notch digital driver's binnacle. Aside from impressive animations and being able to call up a smart 3D map, the Skoda can match the 5008's functionality – but without such flair and personalisation, cosmetic but important differentiators (especially for younger customers). As such, Skodas still feel like the work of the aged VW Group engineers who kept an iron grip on product development pre-Dieselgate.

Best seven-seat SUVs to buy

They would have harangued their teams into delivering on mechanical refinement and dynamics. The Peugeot thumps through bumps and potholes, making the child seats shake and rattle, and the body takes a while to settle 
afterwards. The Kodiaq's ride feels silken by comparison, and it rolls less in corners. Not that the Peugeot is a dynamic dud: its steering feels pretty direct and there's plenty of front-end grip, but families will prefer the Skoda's superior comfort. And its smoother, less voluble, punchier engine – though both cars can suffer from that scourge of diesels, momentum-sapping turbo lag at low revs. With the Skoda you can split that torque between both axles – an option that's denied Peugeot customers.

But the Peugeot has a massive ace up its sleeve for my family: its second-row bench is made up of three individual seats, all with Isofix attachments. That enabled me to fix three child seats abreast, keeping the boot space intact. There's no reason why Skoda couldn't have done the same – the Kodiaq is wider than the 5008. So for me the ideal mid-size SUV is a mash-up of Peugeot and Skoda, inconveniently.

By Phil McNamara

Logbook: Skoda Kodiaq

Miles this month 818
Total 7637
Our mpg 36.7
Official mpg 49.6
Fuel this month £150.12
Extra costs None  

Month 2 living with a Skoda Kodaiq: mode switching

Skoda Kodiaq drive modes

The Kodiaq loves a cruise, its composed ride and calm aura shining through despite a gentle drone of diesel combustion and some whistling from the big mirrors. But this cushiness is its default dynamic mode: editor Miller borrowed it and noted its Bambi-on-ice understeer attacking wet, cold roundabouts. Putting the steering in Sport heightens responsiveness, but the throttle has an obstructive stepped feel whatever the drive mode.

Logbook: Skoda Kodiaq

Miles this month 912
Total 6819
Our mpg 37.5
Official mpg 49.6
Fuel this month £147.22
Extra costs None  

Introduction to the CAR magazine fleet 

There’s a running joke in the office that editor Ben Miller won’t leave HQ without 400bhp at his disposal. It’s not strictly true, and it only makes one person chuckle: me. But there’s an inexorable truth behind it: we all have our niche but immutable car criteria, and mine is space for three children under six years old.  

So welcome Skoda Kodiaq, naturally with seven seats (a £980 premium over the standard five-seater). We’ve gone for the Edition trim level, which at £31,650 sits slap bang in the middle of the big Skoda SUV range. 

Unfortunately a third child seat won’t fit slap bang in the middle of the second row, because the car doesn’t have three individual seats with Isofix brackets – unlike Peugeot’s narrower 5008. Which means I have to halve the generous boot space with a sixth perch permanently erect. And then there’s the challenge of forcing a daughter’s head through the crack behind the middle row: she’s going to end up with cauliflower ears like a rugby hooker. Not to forget the sheer awkwardness of then fastening her belts, in a seat which isn’t secured by Isofix because there aren’t any back there. Hmmmph.

But let’s not get off on the wrong foot. There’s much to admire about this Skodiaq, such as its blue-chip drivetrain combining smooth but torquey 2.0-litre diesel, seven-speed dual-clutch ’box and all-wheel drive. That bumps the list price up to £37,620. 

The Edition might be mid-range, but it’s got more goodies than Santa’s warehouse on 23 December. Metallic paint – cheekily a cost-option on so many cars these days – is standard on every Skodiaq: we’ve selected Business Grey, to blend in with the Great British Winter.

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Edition trim bundles in blind spot mirror monitoring – typically an option on premium cars – along with LED lamps, keyless entry, privacy glass and rear parking sensors. You also get a vast and crystal-clear 9.2in touchscreen with SmartLink to mirror your cellphone’s screen, plus leather upholstery (and electrically adjustable, heated front seats) and 19-inch Triglav polished alloys.

Skoda Kodiaq rear seats

With so much included, I only needed to add a measly £1615 of options. The £180 Children’s Pack involves rear sunblinds and a button behind the driver’s window-switch pack to child-lock the rear doors. I only discovered this after Florence yanked her door handle on the M25 – for once I was thankful for motorway gridlock.

An electrically folding towbar is the costliest item at £860, floor mats and boot-mounted seat release the cheapest at £85 and £95 respectively. And given my hideously bad luck with tyres (four blow-outs in four years), a space-saver wheel looks £110 well spent. Business Class-style winged restraints come in the £325 Sleep Package, though not for the front passenger, weirdly. Appropriately the driver goes without. 

Over the next few months we’ll find out if the Skodiaq is a total snooze, or something much more impressive…

By Phil McNamara

Logbook: Skoda Kodiaq

Price £37,629  
As tested £39,235
Engine 1968cc 16v turbodiesel 4-cyl, 187bhp @ 3500rpm, 295lb ft @ 1750rpm
Transmission 7-speed auto, all-wheel drive
Performance 8.8sec 0-62mph, 129mph, 151g/km CO2  
Miles this month 816
Total 5907  
Our mpg 36.3  
Official mpg 49.6
Fuel this month £215.75
Extra costs None

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