Walk up to the Kodiaq and apart from the size, it’s the crisp details and the bold lines that get your attention first. The grille and headlight combo is pulled back, much like a drawn bow, and with the swage lines pulled tight along the flanks and the clamshell bonnet, it just looks the business.
Even the detailing is neat. The Czech-crystal-like, multi-element, all-LED headlights are enclosed in slim and sharply defined pods, the bonnet is flanked by squared-off wheel arches, and the flying arrow Skoda logo ( with its ‘comet tail’ of raised metal ) looks attractive.
The design, however, gets less interesting around the back and the wheels should have been larger, but the Skoda identity and that all-important off-roader stance are all there. And while the Kodiaq isn’t as ‘out there’ as the Yeti, there’s still plenty of individuality and ‘craft appeal’ here. Take, for example, the ‘pinch’ in the metal at the confluence of the bonnet, fender and front door; it’s unique. Look at the mini lamps on the ‘cheekbones’ of the Kodiaq, and the way the lights at the rear tuck in; they’re just cool. Jozef Kaba (former head of design), Skoda will miss you.
What you do tend to forget when you look at the Kodiaq, however, is that it’s only 4.7m long. Shorter than the Superb and only 40mm longer than the Octavia, it is surprisingly compact. And it isn’t as wide as other full-sized SUVs either. Compare the Kodiaq’s track to something like an Audi Q7, and the difference is apparent, with the Skoda at between 1,586mm and 1,576mm (F, R) and the Audi at 1,679mm and 1,691mm.
So, how then does the Kodiaq deliver all that space on the inside? Well, to begin with, it uses a transversely located engine as against a longitudinal one, which allows it to have a short bonnet and a long cabin. Built on the same MQB platform as the Octavia and the Passat, it makes good use of vertical space. And then, on the inside, the driver sits far ahead in the cabin, close to the windshield, made possible by the shallow dash that doesn’t protrude too much.
Under the skin, the Kodiaq gets independent front and rear suspension via steel coils, there’s a lot of aluminium used in the front suspension to keep the unsprung mass down and this 4x4 version even gets driving modes such as ‘Comfort’, ‘Sport’ and a low-friction surface mode called ‘Snow’. Missing on the Indian car, however, is Dynamic Chassis Control, the variable dampers available in other markets; the ones that actually make the most difference to the various driving modes. You do get an on-demand 4x4 system though. An electronically controlled multi-plate clutch allows the system to constantly meter the right amount of power to be sent to the rear wheel. And you also get XDS plus, where the brakes are used selectively via the ESP system to offer the effect of a limited slip differential. Hill descent control is missing, ground clearance at 187mm isn’t too impressive and if you are going to venture off road, you really need a better set of off-road tyres. Still, all the essential ingredients for an urban monocoque based SUV are here.