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Czech carmaker’s new flagship seven-seater proves that large needn’t essentially imply crude or ungainly.

What’s it?
We might have solely lately seen the launch of the very thrilling Skoda Octavia RS, however barely a month later, the Czech model is launching one thing arguably much more thrilling, albeit for very completely different causes. It is the Kodiaq, Skoda’s new flagship seven-seat SUV that may sit simply above the Excellent sedan within the line-up.

We have pushed the Kodiaq abroad, and once I first lay eyes on the Indian model, I’m reminded of the very first thing that struck me about it the final time – the best way it appears. It’s not small, but it surely appears extra compact than it’s, and should you suppose that takes away from its SUV road presence, it doesn’t. The small print are so placing that it manages to do an incredible job of drawing your eye and holding it there. Plenty of the weather from the Excellent return, just like the sharp ‘Czech crystal’ headlamps and tail-lamps, with the fog lamps getting their very own angular pods under. The 18-inch wheels are nearly the best dimension – something smaller would have seemed too tiny, and something bigger would have seemed decidedly ‘under-tyred’ for such an extended SUV. Equally, the slender width and low top, relative to the immense size, means they needed to get the journey top proper to stop it from wanting too MPV-like, and it appears they’ve. You additionally get the corporate’s ‘butterfly’ grille that’s now bolder than ever, with thick, detailed creases on the edges and on the rear, and really refined gray cladding across the base of the automotive that every one give it character. So, what it lacks in outright dimension in comparison with, say, a Fortuner or an Endeavour, it makes up for with modern styling.

Skoda Kodiaq

What’s it like inside?
The inside is decidedly much less avant-garde, however that’s to not say it’s unhealthy by any measure. It’s simply that it’s a bit acquainted now. You get the usual Skoda dials, steering wheel, stalks, window switches and air conditioning controls, and there’s the identical beige and darkish gray color scheme as the opposite Skodas. All that is no unhealthy factor, because the look is clear and ethereal and the standard is superb, aside from just a few plastics; the shift launch button on the gear selector involves thoughts. Distinctive to the Kodiaq is the thick slab of trim that runs horizontally throughout the centre of the dashboard (and opens as a second glovebox on the passenger facet), and although it appears good, it feels a contact too plasticky.

Skoda Kodiaq

The climb into the center row is simple, you get a separate third local weather zone, and these 40:20:40 cut up seats fold down and might be slid forwards and backwards by as a lot as 180mm. They don’t, nevertheless, tumble ahead, nor can they be eliminated like within the Yeti. This implies entry to the rear is a bit cumbersome. And it’s a bit cramped again right here – you sit low to the ground and that is undoubtedly a 5+2 seater, not a full seven. Nonetheless, there’s a extra snug compromise – by pushing the center row midway ahead, you might really match seven medium-size people on this automotive. Simply on quick journeys although, and finest maintain any six-footers on the entrance.

The seats themselves are a contact agency, although they’re removed from uncomfortable. The entrance seats, with their wide selection of changes, will maintain you effectively, and one of the best half is, due to the low dashboard, you get a great view out entrance even on the lowest setting. The view backward, nevertheless, isn’t so nice due to the thick D-pillars.

Skoda Kodiaq

The boot is spectacular too, at 270 litres with all rows up, 630 litres with the final row folded, and a large 2,005 litres with the second row down too. The one challenge is that the loading lip could be very excessive. One other intelligent contact is that the parcel shelf folds away right into a cubby below the boot flooring if you don’t want it. At first you do not see the spare wheel, however then additional disassembly of the boot reveals a super-narrow area saver neatly packaged decrease within the flooring!

It is completely loaded with gear too. The 8.0-inch touchscreen, the identical one within the new Octavia, will get Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and even a powerful proprietary navigation system. Then there’s the 10-colour ambient lighting system, the nice-sounding 12-speaker Canton stereo, and even a lot of graphics that present you ways economically you’ve been driving.

And it doesn’t cease there. There is a actually humongous panoramic sunroof that stretches approach again, and each entrance seats are powered with a reminiscence perform. Auto headlamps and wipers had been virtually anticipated, as had been the powered tailgate, parking sensors all spherical and a rear-view digicam, however hands-free parking help and a drowsiness sensor are nice surprises. I’ve additionally counted 9 airbags! There are additionally Skoda’s intelligent little touches, like somewhat dustbin within the door pocket, a magnetised flashlight you’ll be able to stick on the automotive when you change a tyre, and my favorite – plastic ‘bumpers’ that come out and shield the door edges if you open them, and slip away once more if you shut them!

Skoda Kodiaq

What’s it wish to drive?
Skoda already makes use of two completely different variations of the two.0-litre four-cylinder TDI motor in India – with 143hp within the Octavia and 177hp within the Excellent, and now alongside comes the Kodiaq with a 3rd, even newer model. This one makes 150hp and 340Nm of torque, and although not the best of outputs, once I sampled it in Europe, I discovered it to be greater than sufficient.

As we weave across the slender roads close to Kovalam, I can inform this motor is decently refined, though you’ll be able to hear a distant diesel drone always. I’m additionally feeling no instant lack of oomph at these low speeds, and that doubtless has a bit to do with this SUV’s comparatively bantam 1.8-tonne kerb weight. It’s additionally bought to do with the seven-speed DSG gearbox, which, in these circumstances at the least, shifts round any turbo lag fairly effectively. It feels very responsive at low to medium speeds. The great visibility, teamed with a lightweight, responsive steering, means this feels precisely like a Skoda Excellent to drive – simply increased off the bottom. You solely turn out to be conscious of its size when the street will get critically slender.

It’s out on the freeway – the place frequent overtaking is a should – that I begin to want Skoda had employed a extra highly effective model of this motor. At increased speeds, there’s some hesitation on kickdown and as you construct up revs, it begins to really feel a bit strained. Positive, there’s a pleasant hit of energy within the mid-range, however sustained acceleration for an extended burst does put the motor out of its consolation zone.

Skoda Kodiaq

I attempt pushing the Drive Mode button (a primary for a Skoda in India), and Sport mode does enhance responses. However this additionally makes it really feel strained and that simply doesn’t swimsuit this relaxed SUV. What’s higher to do is shortly faucet the gear selector into ‘S’, end the overtake, after which faucet it again into ‘D’. By the way, the drive modes – Eco, Regular, Sport, Particular person and Snow – have an effect on the AC, steering, engine and gearbox.

On the considerably damaged roads round Kovalam, the suspension is dealing with issues fairly admirably. Sure, there’s an underlying firmness, similar to we felt within the VW Tiguan, however the stability you get on the freeway is simply beautiful. Bump absorption is definitely fairly unbelievable, and solely the actually bushy ones make it by way of, and noise from the tyres is surprisingly subdued for such a giant automotive. It genuinely looks like a sedan. As for dealing with? Nicely, the size means it’s going to by no means be a sports activities SUV, however nonetheless, physique management is fairly tight and turn-in, particularly, is fast and straightforward. Skoda has additionally given it AWD, however actually, it feels extra like a response to the calls for of the section than a necessity. Being a giant household automotive, the Kodiaq looks as if it’s going to see even much less tough stuff than most soft-roaders, and although it does get AWD, there isn’t an off-road setting like within the Tiguan.

Ought to I purchase one?
The Kodiaq doesn’t really feel like an SUV, and I imply that in one of the best ways attainable. It looks like a giant premium automotive which you could take your complete household alongside in. It covers all of the anticipated bases – lengthy gear record, plush interiors, area for passengers and baggage, and journey consolation. And if that wasn’t sufficient, it’s surprisingly simple to drive, and there are a great deal of intelligent touches that few different producers achieve this effectively. The engine, whereas we’d have most popular a bit extra top-end grunt, fits it effectively sufficient for relaxed driving. And sure, whereas it doesn’t have the in-your-face presence or off-roading capacity of a few of its ladder-frame rivals, it’s a good-looking beast with simply sufficient {hardware} to get you out of most pickles you’ll end up in.

The value tag of Rs 34.49 lakh (ex-showroom, India) for the only, totally loaded 4×4 TDI DSG model, makes it costlier than its five-seat cousin, the VW Tiguan, and even the Toyota Fortuner and Ford Endeavour. That’s some huge cash, although you do get a number of automotive for it. So whereas the Kodiaq upholds Skoda’s core values of area, luxurious, gear and flexibility with aplomb, it isn’t fairly the worth proposition we hoped it could be.

Additionally learn: 2017 Skoda Kodiaq launched at Rs 34.49 lakh

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