Kodiaq Sportline: This Skoda costs €61,000. No, that’s not a typo

You get a huge amount of car for this much money. But is a more basic version a better buy?

Skoda Kodiaq
    
Year: 2021
Fuel: Diesel

If these are indeed the last days of the old-school combustion engine, then Skoda is surely in line for the job of class prefect. The once-laughable Czech brand has, under the stewardship of Volkswagen, become something of a titan in the car industry, turning out impressive model after impressive model, and earning both critical plaudits and some surprisingly chunky profits.

With that has come a distinct drift away from Skoda’s bargain roots. Where once, certainly from the late 1990s onwards, you could reasonably claim that your new Skoda was basically a Volkswagen in disguise with a 10 per cent discount, now that financial advantage is rather more nebulous. Skodas do still offer good value, but the immediate fiduciary benefits are less obvious.

Which brings us to the matter of the price tag for the Skoda Kodiaq Sportline. Equipped, as tested here, in range-topping 2.0-litre TDI 200hp DSG 4x4 form, it costs – and here is where you should possibly take a deep breath and maybe make a soothing cup of camomile tea – €61,192. No, that’s not a typo.

€61,000 is a huge amount of money, but this is, it must be said, a huge amount of car. The Kodiaq is big, imposing, and impressive looking, especially in the Sportline trim

That is a huge amount of money, but this is, it must be said, a huge amount of car. The Kodiaq is big, imposing, and impressive looking, especially in the Sportline trim, which brings with it 20in alloy wheels, a mildly chunky bodykit, and some rather fetching grey paintwork that does look slightly as if someone applied primer but no top coat.


This is, though, not the "new" Kodiaq. That arrives later this year, but as with the recently updated Volkswagen Tiguan, Seat Ateca and Seat Tarraco (all of which share their chassis and mechanical makeup with the Kodiaq), the changes will be minimal, limited to styling tweaks and some new equipment.

The biggest equipment change will actually be the addition of the latest VW Group infotainment software, and if anything that’s a good reason to buy a Kodiaq now, while it still uses the older touchscreen setup. The new MIB3 system can be very fiddly and glitchy to use, while the older screen fitted to our test car is much easier on the fingers, eyes and brain.

Actually, making life easy is something the Kodiaq does rather well. Heave yourself up into the cabin and you are confronted with a virtual abyss of space. There is proper lounging room for even tall adults in the rear seats, and up front there are big, high-backed bucket seats into which you sink as if into a welcoming armchair.

The overall styling of the dashboard is relatively simple and upright, but it’s all beautifully put together (and in the Sportline spec you get some rather attractive, if incongruous, carbon-fibre detailing).

Many of the pricey Sportline's strengths are equally available on the much more basic 1.5 TSI turbo petrol Kodiaq Active model, which retails for €35,000. So is it worth upgrading?

Down the back is an enormous boot, which measures 765 litres up to the luggage cover, giving the Kodiaq a distinct cubic advantage over rivals such as the Toyota Highlander. In that boot, optionally, you can have extra seats, which raise and fold away easily but which are a bit on the tight side for adults (and it's a bit cheeky that Skoda asks you to pay roughly an extra €2,000 for them on base models).

They are fine for kids, though, and we like the neat touches such as the retracting luggage cover that slots easily under the floor when you don’t want it, and the ever-present umbrella stashed in the driver’s door. Oh, and those little fillets of plastic that automatically unfold and protect the edges of those doors from dings and scratches.

Many of those strengths are equally available on the much more basic 1.5 TSI turbo petrol Kodiaq Active model, which retails for a much more palatable €35,000. So is it worth upgrading to this pricey Sportline?

Well, you do get the latest-generation 2.0-litre diesel engine. Diesel may be steadily falling out of fashion, but this is still an impressive unit, combining good refinement with solid, punchy performance and reasonable fuel economy. (We averaged 7.3 litres per 100km in mixed driving, compared with Skoda’s claimed 6.8 litres.)

It’s a qualitative step up from the more affordable 150hp version of the same engine (0-100km.h in 7.8 seconds is not to be sneezed at), and the all-wheel drive that comes as standard with the extra power lends you confidence in slippery conditions.

The Kodiaq is also uncommonly good to drive. It’s not a sports car, obviously, but it has responsive steering, a well-controlled ride in spite of those big wheels, and a general sensation of poise and deportment. It’s not as hilariously good to drive as the old Kodiaq RS (which will be making a petrol-powered comeback very soon), but it’s not without its enjoyments.

Here’s the thing, though. You can do better. Look back down the Kodiaq range to that basic Active model with the 1.5 petrol engine. It actually has cheaper annual motor tax than the big diesel, and probably won’t work out an awful lot thirstier if you don’t thrash it. Playing around with Skoda’s online configurator, we specced one up with seven seats and some choice options, and got a price tag of €39,654. Which is much, much more like it.

Or you could wait and, assuming you could live without the extra seats, get the new all-electric Enyaq iV SUV.

It’s not that the Kodiaq Sportline isn’t impressive – it is – and, in common with almost all Skodas, it’s a pleasant presence on the family driveway. But with the big diesel and the big price tag, you do wonder quite to whom it’s appealing.

Skoda Kodiaq Sportline 2.0 TDI 200 DSG 4x4: The lowdown

Power: 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine plus putting out 200hp and 400Nm of torque with a seven-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel drive.
CO2 emissions (annual motor tax): 177g/km (€600).
L/100km (MPG) 6.8 (41.5)
0-100km/h: 7.8 seconds.
Price: €61.192 as tested; Kodiaq starts at €35,475.
Verdict: Versatile, handsome and impressive. But also expensive and old-fashioned.

Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe, a contributor to The Irish Times, specialises in motoring