Take a look around any city or suburban streets and you'll notice an abundance of seven-seater SUVs that aren't built on a ute platform, or even purpose-built for hard-core off-road touring.
Mazda has seemingly mastered the formula for success in this arena, with the CX-9, and Czech brand Skoda, with its feature-packed Kodiaq, has also proven itself a worthy proposition in this realm.
Its 4x4 Sportline variant is the Kodiaq fleshed out to its natural, recreation-friendly conclusion: sporty looks, more features, nifty touches and extra-cost options that bulk up the price – but is all of that really worth $60,000? Read on.
Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?
Our Skoda Kodiaq 4x4 Sportline 140TDI was, as tested, $59,690. It had the luxury pack ($3400), which includes lane-assist, blind-spot detection, front and rear heated seats, perforated-leather-appointed seat upholstery, surround-area view, three-zone air-conditioning, traffic-jam assist, emergency assist, rear traffic alert, and auto-dimming, folding side mirrors with memory function.
Our Skoda Kodiaq 4x4 Sportline 140TDI was, as tested, $59,690.
It also had the tech pack ($2600), which includes adaptive chassis control with driving mode selection, 10-speaker Canton sound system, automatic parking assist, manoeuvre braking assist, 'virtual pedal' (hands-free electric tailgate opening and closing), vehicle set-up via key, off-road mode, and wireless charging. And, as the icing on the cake, it also had metallic paint ($700).
As mentioned, our tester had the tech pack and that includes off-road mode, which adjusts engine, drivetrain and stability-control systems during low-speed off-roading (up to 30 km/h).
The Skoda Kodiaq 4x4 Sportline 140TDi Sportline has a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine.
Is there anything interesting about its design?
The Sportline is a nice-looking unit; sleek and low-slung. Design-wise, it's not worlds apart from the basic Kodiaq, but it has a few cool tweaks – inside and out – to make it more 'sporty'.
Among the more noteworthy are its sports leather steering wheel, Black Alcantara, leather sport seats (a combination of genuine and artificial leather) with silver stitching, and other SportLine-specific accents (including a Sportline tag on the glovebox). Its exterior has been sportified with black front grille, bumper, wing mirrors, black-edged windows and roof rails, and chrome exhaust pipes.
The Sportline is a nice-looking unit; sleek and low-slung.
The Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and sat nav-enabled multimedia unit, with a bright 9.2-inch colour touch-screen, is one of the best systems around; big, clear and colorful icons make it very easy to use and to navigate through different modes. (I didn't try the gesture-control features.)
How practical is the space inside?
There are numerous nice touches in this Kodiaq, like door-edge protectors, which flip out when you open a door to protect it against carpark mishaps; Skoda-branded umbrellas tucked away in their very own special compartments, with drainage, in both front doors; and bottle and mobile-phone holders for third-row passengers. Not to mention gear like the cargo net, the moveable cargo 'stops' (to prevent your load shifting while the car is in motion), and the sleep package (variable headrests on the outer seats and a blanket).
Storage space is on the right side of handy: 270 litres (in rear cargo area, with all rows up).
630 litres (with the third row folded flat) and 2005 litres (with the second row folded flat).
Storage space is on the right side of handy: 270 litres (in rear cargo area, with all rows up), 630 litres (with the third row folded flat) and 2005 litres (with the second row folded flat).
What's it like as a daily driver?
The Sportline 140TDI is 4699m long (with a 2791mm wheelbase), 1882mm wide, and 1683mm high. It has a listed tare mass of 1730kg. Compared to the usual bigger SUVs and utes I get around in, the Sportline is a low-riding, nimble unit to drive, making for a nice change.
The flat-based steering wheel is nicely weighted for around-town driving and highway speeds, but, as we found out later, it's a bit too vague for low-speed off-roading.
Seats are generally supportive and comfortable, although, as always in a seven-seater, the further back you go, the more spartan the accommodations become for your rear end and your back.
Seats are generally supportive and comfortable.
As mentioned earlier, our tester had the luxury pack so we benefited from that impressive surround-area view, blind-spot detection, rear traffic alert and more in general day-to-day driving scenarios.
We were able to switch between driving modes (Normal, Comfort, Eco, Sport, Individual or Snow) via the infotainment system as part of adaptive chassis control, which is offered in the optional tech pack. The modes adjust braking, acceleration and steering, among other vehicle characteristics, to suit the conditions.
Because it's so light, the Kodiaq gets off the mark swiftly when needed and the auto is a smooth shifter, but it's an altogether livelier drive if you opt for Sport mode.
The Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and sat nav-enabled multimedia unit is one of the best systems around.
The four-wheel-drive system, or '4x4' as it's badged, is such that it will automatically and immediately engage 4x4 when it detects a loss of traction.
Overall, the 4x4 Sportline a nice thing to drive. There are, however, annoying quirks, such as this Skoda's stop-start function, which I switched off very quickly, because it's simply too choppy and intrusive.
What's it like for touring?
While we didn't tackle anything on our off-road loop more serious than well-maintained national park tracks, the 4x4 Sportline seems right at home with light-duty off-roading.
It's light for a start, so it's easy enough to maneuver along tight bush tracks, but it is hindered by its 187mm of ground clearance, and 19.1-degree approach and 16.2-degree departure angles.
Push-button engagement of off-road mode (described by Skoda as a "driving assistant for difficult conditions") delivers better all-round track-holding capabilities, but that's only for slow-going off-road driving (up to 30 km/h).
It has a few cool tweaks – inside and out – to make it more 'sporty'.
The coil-sprung suspension seems quite firm, tending towards stiff, and is fine on good bitumen but yields a rather jarring ride over even slightly corrugated gravel tracks.
It rides on 20-inch alloys and Pirelli Scorpions, which are well suited to suburban and city duties, but not so great for dirt-road driving.
With regards to general touring duties, I didn't have any luck getting the 'virtual pedal' to work for me; I wagged my foot under the bumper in an attempt to get the hands-free, foot-prompted electric tailgate to open for me, without success.
That's not good when the weather is terrible and you're trying to transfer armfuls of camping gear from your person into the Sportline's rear cargo area. Access denied.
The Kodiaq has maximum towing capacities of 750kg (unbraked) and 2000kg (braked). You can carry a maximum load of 75kg on the roof.
How much fuel does it consume?
Skoda claims the Kodiaq 4x4 Sportline has a 5.9L/100km fuel-consumption figure. We recorded 6.8L/100km in daily driving, and 7.3L/100km after our light-duty off-road driving loop. It has a 60-litre tank.
What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?
The Sportline has a five-star ANCAP rating, as a result of Kodiaq testing conducted in June 2017. Safety features include (as detailed by the ANCAP report) dual frontal, side chest-protecting and side head-protecting airbags (curtains) and a driver's knee airbag are standard. AEB, adaptive cruise control and a manual speed limiter are also all fitted as standard.
What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?
It is covered by a five-year/unlimited km warranty. Service intervals are recommended for every 12 months/15,000km.
The Kodiaq 4x4 is a quality seven-seater SUV that's more than capable of handling daily driving and weekend recreational duties equally well and, in Sportline trim, it's even more appealing. But is spending that extra cash even necessary? Well, no, not at all, and it is quite a wedge to outlay. Still, coughing up that extra for the Sportline – and also optioning up to the tech and luxury packs – does make a nice-driving, comfortable family wagon even better.
What do you think of the Kodiaq 4x4 Sportline 140TDi? Tell us in the comments below.