THE row about diesel cars shows no sign of abating, with NOx now the noxious substance of choice rather than CO2.
So the higher NOx output of diesels is seen as far more damaging than the higher CO2 generated by petrol-engined cars. It’s ok to sweat a bit more as the world warms with carbon dioxide as long as we’re not choking on nitrogen oxides and the soot particulates of diesels.
With that in mind, it was with a degree of warmth and happiness that we were pleased to see the latest Skoda Kodiaq arrive on our drive.
It came equipped with a 1.4 litre TSI petrol engine producing a maximum output of 150PS, coupled to a six speed DSG automated manual gearbox.
It caused some excitement as Kodiaq is the very car our neighbours desire to replace their Audi. Yes, in these days of sensible aspiration it’s ok to move downmarket especially as Skodas are seen as the car of choice for VW/Audi buyers with some financial nous.
They loved the car after a day of trying it and happily set off to purchase one. Their efforts came to an abrupt halt at the first dealership they approached (not local to where you are reading this).
The salesman did the usual air sucking through clenched teeth, underbid them ridiculously on their Audi, and then suggested they whistle for a discount on a Kodiaq as it was too new to come with any deals. Maybe he needed reminding that nearby Seat dealers offering the Ateca, a few months down the road in comparison with a Kodiaq, might be more willing to bid sensibly for business on a car that’s ostensibly the same underneath.
Kodiaq is undoubtedly a brilliant car and has quite a few interesting things about it that dispel the myths around certain features. The first is that a car with 19-inch wheels has to have a rock hard ride because the test car with exactly those wheels (shod with 50 profile tyres) was relatively compliant and very comfortable for virtually everyone who rode in it.
The second is that an SUV of relatively compact length can have seven seats, all of which are entirely usable.
We set out for a restaurant with our neighbours, them in the front, us in the middle with space between us, and their strapping sons in the rear perches and we all fitted in without too many contortions to achieve it.
And the third? That a 1.4 litre petrol engine with an auto box can never move a car full of people with any degree of ease or economy. The Kodiaq’s engine is clever in that it can run on only two cylinders when not under load and if it wasn’t for the fascia display letting you know it was on two cylinders you’d never know.
When you want power it cuts back in seamlessly but the upshot is that this car can achieve up to 43mpg on a longer run, more like 38mpg when kicking about town on shorter trips, which is as good as many diesel SUVs, and an overall average commendably close to its official combined figure.
As an equivalent diesel Kodiaq is likely to add another £1,800 to the price, buying the petrol version is a no-brainer even if you want to tow as it will pull the same two tonnes as the diesel.
Fold the seats in the Kodiaq and you can have up to 2,005 litres of load space. Without the seven seats there’s another 60 litres but for flexibility (and long term residual values) seven seats are the best bet. TopGear magazine rates this the best car for big families while Diesel Car rates it the best large SUV.
The driving experience is largely good but there are occasions where the stop and start system needs disconnecting. Negotiating narrow country lanes in the Cotswolds where other traffic could be met on steep bends was one instance and there was another waiting to turn right at a junction in town where an oncoming driver flashed to go. The Kodiaq leapt into life with an alarmed chirp from the front tyres.
On the whole, though, there’s very little on which to fault the car. Length of ownership would educate on its foibles and then it would be thoroughly enjoyable.
Maurice and Annette Hardy
Car: Skoda Kodiaq SE L 1.4 TSI 150PS DSG
Does it fit your ego…
0-62mph: 9.7 secs
Top speed: 122mph
PS: 150 @ 5000 rpm
…and your wallet…
CO2 emissions: 143 g/km