The Kodiaq gets more ‘SUV’ with a new off-road mode, underbody protection and some styling changes. We take it for a spin.
What is it?
The Skoda Kodiaq has been around for a while now, and with it acing the 'premium' from its ‘premium SUV’ tag, Skoda now wants to address the 'SUV' bit. Enter the Kodiaq Scout – a mildly updated version of the standard model aimed at upping its off-roadability and its SUV desirability.
What’s it like on the outside?
On the whole, the changes to the Kodiaq are quite subtle but they do convey the Czech carmaker's new message on closer inspection. Starting at the front, you get an all-black grille and a big silver scuff plate on the bumper.
Over to the side, you now have black plastic cladding, new sharp-looking dual-tone 18-inch alloy wheels and ‘Scout’ badges on each of the front fenders. The ORVMs are now finished in silver.
Moving on to the rear, here too the bumpers see a revision with a new silver diffuser. The more prominent change is the Skoda symbol badge that is now replaced by the brand name spelt out in chrome lettering.
What’s it like on the inside?
Get inside the Scout, and the most noticeable change is the upholstery. It now gets an all-black interior that won’t show dirt and stains as easily as beige-and-black of the older Kodiaq. The black treatment also helps with the premium appeal. The dark polished wood trimmings on the dashboard, which also feature the ‘Scout’ badge, uplift the cabin and you can see the same trimmings on the door pads as well. What’s more, the seat upholstery is the nice blend of Alcantara and leather that we first saw on the new Skoda Octavia RS. They look nice and premium with the white contrast stitching, but they aren’t as soft in terms of cushioning.
Equipment-wise, it gets the same kit as the top-spec Kodiaq L&K, apart from the Virtual Cockpit instrument cluster and the 360-degree camera. This means that you get the 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system (which is slick to use), Apple and Android connectivity, three-zone climate control, a reverse camera along with front and rear sensors and nine airbags – and, of course, all the electronic aids you would need. Also, exclusive to the Scout is a TPMS (tyre pressure monitoring sensors).
At the rear, the Kodiaq was always impressive and the Scout too is the same. Yes, the black upholstery does rob some sense of space, but you may not notice it thanks to the massive panoramic sunroof and large windows. You still get the manual sun blinds for the rear windows and even the ‘Nap Package’ as standard. The latter gets you the neck restraints integrated in the headrests, along with blankets.
What’s it like to drive?
In terms of driving, the Scout is no different from the standard car. It uses the same 2.0-litre TDI engine that makes 150hp and is mated to a 7-speed DSG transmission, so it’s not that sprightly a performer. You also get the same clever four-wheel-drive system, but what’s exclusive to the Scout is an off-road mode. Switch to this, and the car works in tandem with the electronic assists to help you out of a tricky situation. However, this is only in action while the speed is under 30kph. That said, what it mostly does is act as a hill-descent control system. Which means that while coming down a steep slope, all you need to do is press the button and give the required steering input; and the Scout will tiptoe all the way down.
Another standard feature is the ‘Rough Road Package’ that gives underbody protection to the oil sump, engine bay, gearbox and even the suspension. Given the sorry state of roads here, this is one feature that will be appreciated even if you don’t venture off-road. Driving dynamics are still that of the standard Kodiaq, which means highway cruising is excellent and despite being a big, 1.8-tonne SUV, it has enjoyable road manners.
Should you buy one?
The Scout is priced at Rs 33.99 lakh, which makes it almost Rs 2.8 lakh cheaper than the highest-spec Kodiaq L&K trim – considering the trim on offer and the missing bits, its better value compared to its top-spec sibling. And then there is, of course, the off-roadability. It doesn’t make the Kodiaq an all-out off-roader, but it adds nicely to its versatility, making the Kodiaq one premium SUV that you can actually drive on B-roads with a good degree of carefree abandon.