THERE can be few substitutes for driving over Shap Summit on the M6 in a howling blizzard for testing whether a car can take it on the chin.
And that’s exactly what happened during the Mini Beast from the East on St Patrick’s Day when we had to get from Castle Douglas in southern Scotland back home to southern England. If we’d left it another day the conditions in the south would have been even more difficult.
The trip was completed in little more than six hours’ driving time. We made two stops, the first at the Tebay services that are regarded as the best in the country but where the £3.10 price of a pretty ordinary-looking sliced loaf of bread saw us leave empty-handed and the second at Norton Canes on the M6 toll where, according to German comedian Henning Wehn, you get a better class of traveller because they’ve paid to be there. He could be right, but the only “famous” person we’ve ever seen there is Labour MP Angela Eagle (travelling in a Skoda).
Anyway, back to slippery Shap where from the vantage point of our Skoda Kodiaq Scout we saw the only gritter of the whole journey (parked on a slip road on the northbound side). All the way south we saw ‘Salt spreading’ warnings but no actual activity, demonstrating the futility of so many motorway signs because there was no need to lay any salt. Is it any wonder that people ignore the signs most of the time?
The Kodiaq Scout may seem the perfect car for the modern family that demands an SUV but doesn’t want to appear ostentatious. Skoda ownership in our small close consists of two Skoda Kodiaqs, two Skoda Yetis, and two or three other models but one of the reasons for getting the Scout was a request for information from a neighbour considering one to replace her ageing Land Rover as carriage for her working gundogs.
It looks as if the Land Rover will be staying on because there’s a telling line in the Skoda’s handbook section dealing with the Off Road button. “But even with OFF ROAD mode activated, your vehicle is never a true SUV” it reads.
Now that need not worry the average Kodiaq Scout owner but where you want one to head out into seriously adverse conditions the evidence of its use attached to the underside might be just enough to deflect a warranty claim or start a serious fight with your dealer.
On the other hand, dealing with the conditions most of us encounter every day there’s heavy snow or serious standing water from heavy rain should not faze the Kodiaq. The sidewinds on Shap were horrendous but the car felt steady as a rock and that’s all that most of us ask.
We had a choice of test cars – either the 150 PS or 190 PS 2.0 TDi diesel, both with the seven speed DSG automated gearbox driving all four wheels. We opted for the 150 PS and also made another sojourn into the debate of petrol versus diesel.
Last year, our first Kodiaq test was conducted in the 1.4 litre TSI petrol car fitted with a six speed DSG box and this achieved 43 mpg on a run, 38 mpg around town. The diesel did no better on a long trip, despite the extra cog in the gearbox, although the Scout is slightly taller than the standard fare Kodiaq.
The diesel compares favourably for performance although it produces slightly higher levels of CO2, not quite the outcome that might be expected as the switch away from diesel cars in favour of petrol is being blamed for the rise in CO2 in the UK’s atmosphere.
With regard to interior spec, there was really very little difference in terms of space and comfort. Both the Scout and last year’s car had the seven seat interior and in everyday driving they felt little different. There’s good luggage capacity behind the middle row seats and even with the third row in place the luggage volume is still useful.
Maybe the biggest difference comes in the price. The Scout was listed at £35,170, about to change as the new rules for diesel car road tax come into effect, while the equivalent petrol car would be £32,765. It’s a huge saving that will greatly reduce the pain of your motoring costs. The Scout would not be our choice, but the Kodiaq is.
Maurice and Annette Hardy
Car: Skoda Kodiaq Scout TDI 150PS DSG 4×4
Does it fit your ego…
0-62 mph: 9.8 secs
Top speed: 119 mph
PS: 150 @ 3500 rpm
Torque: 340 Nm @ 1750 rpm
…and your wallet…
Combined: 49.6 mpg
CO2 emissions: 149 g/km
Best bits: further display of Skoda’s natural talents