Long-term report: The Skoda Kodiaq heads out on cross-country duties
I remember being on the international launch of the Skoda Kodiaq back in 2016. Even being relatively new to this racket at the time, I was impressed by the amount of kit it offered for the money and how well it drove for such a big car.
Fast forward to the present day, and though I may be a little older and (unfortunately) a little greyer, the Kodiaq is a no less appealing prospect in the large SUV segment. So when Skoda got in touch with the team to see if we’d want to try one over a long-term basis to replace our Fabia, I was quite keen to get behind the wheel to see if my initial impressions back in 2016 were on the money – or if I’d been way off the mark.
Our car comes in mid-spec SE L trim level, which means it gets an impressive barrage of standard equipment. Features such as 19-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery and dual-zone climate control all come as part of the £34,855 price tag. You may gawk at the price of it to begin with (and in truth, I did too), but when you remember that this is a seven-seater SUV brimmed with technology and four-wheel-drive, it is far better value than rival offerings.
A smattering of options have been fitted too, though nothing to break the bank. A heated windscreen comes in at £340, while the metallic black paint weighs in at £595. Finally, there’s a steel space saver wheel – a relatively rare sight in the days of inflation kits – for just £150. And that’s it. All in, we’re looking at £35,940 for the lot.
Initially I had planned to give the Kodiaq a light weekend of domestic use; a set of painting ladders were set and ready to go on the Skoda’s roof bars, while the boot had been packed up with boxes too.
But a change in circumstances and a much-needed visit to a family member instead meant that I found myself hoofing up the A34 towards Lancashire – a significant trek from my home near Chichester, but one I’ve done plenty of times.
I hadn’t however, done the journey there and back in one day before – but commitments meant that almost as soon as I reached my destination near Preston, I was bombing it back down south again.
And guess what? The Kodiaq practically chewed through the miles. It doesn’t have adaptive cruise control (there’s a more old-school ‘set a speed and stay at that speed’ type system) but I found the miles zinging under the Skoda’s wheels with a minimal amount of fuss. The first-level ride isn’t the best, so little imperfections in the road do unsettle it a touch, and it can feel like a large dinghy in the wind when it comes to undulating road surfaces, but save for these it’s a mightily accomplished thing for crossing long distances.
Prior to setting off I’d kept my teeth firmly gritted ahead of the imminent refuel at the end of the journey. After all, when you see a large, relatively heavy seven-seater with four-wheel-drive powered by a diesel engine, efficiency isn’t often the first word that springs to mind. I arrived in Lancashire with just shy of half a tank remaining – this is having already travelled over 260 miles.
The trip was reading 46mpg which showed that the Kodiaq was being far from overzealous with its fuel, however – and it’s particularly impressive when you consider Skoda’s claimed economy figure of 39.2mpg.
And though I always like to imagine driving down south as going downhill, that little fuel needle continued to rotate at a reasonable enough pace. By the time I arrived home, it was well into the reserve with around 40 miles remaining.
It was then time for the fill-up, and the inevitable ‘ker-thunk’ as a sizeable wedge of cash from my wallet flew out in return for a fresh tank of diesel. But it wasn’t to be; three clicks of the fuel filler in, and it totalled £67.
I understand that it’s still a fair chunk of money, but for 532 miles? That seems like witchcraft to me. It’s just another thing that has led me to believe that our time with the Kodiaq is going to be not only comfortable, but frugal too – and who doesn’t like a frugal SUV?