What are you driving?
The Kodiaq is the largest SUV that Skoda makes. It comes with five seats as standard, but here we drive it in its seven-seat configuration and the Sportline specification. The latter gives the Kodiaq a more aggressive appearance. Aside from the Sportline badging on the exterior, it features unique bumpers at either end, black door mirrors, roof rails and 19-inch alloy wheels. Sport seats up front add to the overall look and are electrically adjustable on the driver's side. It certainly lives up to its name, providing an attractive design that turned several heads during our time with it.
Both five- and seven-seat Kodiaqs are identical on the outside and we think the €1,000 premium to get the third row of seats is a justifiable expense, even if you don't require all the seats all the time.
Name its best bits
We reckon that the Kodiaq Sportline is one of the more eye-catching SUVs on the market, yet it doesn't compromise on practicalities. As with almost all seven-seat SUVs currently on sale, this Skoda is more of a five-plus-two SUV, with those rearmost two seats best serving smaller children. Getting in and out of them as an adult isn't the easiest of tasks, and legroom isn't overly generous, despite being able to slide the middle row seats forward. Nevertheless, it can accommodate the typical family with ease, and there are plenty of places to store things. One of the positives is that even with all seven seats in place, there is still a reasonable amount of boot space left. The sports seats in the front look the part and provide a good deal of lateral support without feeling too tight, plus the black Alcantara covering is lovely.
On the move, the Skoda's diesel engine doesn't sound as coarse as some others on the market, even when you decide to drive it with more enthusiasm. In fact, when you toggle through the car's selectable drive modes to the 'Sport' setting, you reveal the best side to the Kodiaq. With this mode, the throttle pedal sharpens up and the automatic transmission alters its response, holding onto lower gears a little longer. It all works very well. The accurate steering response and the added benefit of all-wheel drive mean you can have quite a bit of fun on secondary roads where some SUVs might feel out of their depth. Your passengers might not appreciate this side of the Kodiaq as much as the driver does, though.
You also get the LED headlights at this spec level, which provide a better quality of illumination at night - particularly useful if you live in a more rural area.
Anything that bugs you?
One thing that we did find annoying was a loud rattle every time we drove over speed bumps and uneven surfaces. Some quick investigation revealed that it wasn't the car itself, but the umbrellas that come stored in the sides of the front doors. With these removed, the issue went away. The Kodiaq isn't the first model to feature umbrellas in the doors (the Skoda Superb also has it), but this is the first time we've experienced the noise, and it didn't show up in other Kodiaq models we had previously driven, so probably is a one-off.
Another minor annoyance is the location of the wireless charging pad. It lies just ahead of the gear selector, beneath a sliding storage cover. Once you move the selector forward into Park, it makes it difficult to retrieve your phone. A small gripe, we know, but it's something that owners may find annoying over time.
And why have you given it this rating?
The Kodiaq Sportline manages to do the family bit very well while retaining a good degree of desirability. Not only is it fun to drive, but it also offers lots of versatility inside and by and large the interior feels rugged enough to cope with busy family life. With a few options added on top of the already pricey Sportline trim, the Skoda isn't a cheap car, but if you can find a favourable finance or PCP deal, it could make a bit more sense. Lower grade Kodiaqs still offer most of the same practical features, and you can get this engine and transmission from Ambition level upwards. But if you want something that looks good inside and out this is the one to choose.
What do the rest of the team think?
I'm a huge fan of the practicality and no-nonsense image of the regular Skoda Kodiaq. The Sportline specification will appeal to those that care about image as much as they do about fitting all the family in, though it's not cheap to buy. Most won't notice how it drives, either, but everyone will love the extra equipment that comes as standard.
Shane O' Donoghue - Editor