Nissan X-Trail ST-L 2017 review: snapshot
The ST-L marks the mid point in the petrol-powered X-Trail range.
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In what’s become a tradition of Skoda giving its cars silly names, the seven-seat mid-sized Kodiaq is named after a bear, sort of because they had to be different and swap the ‘k’ for a ‘q’. That, in a nutshell, is what Skoda is all about – it’s unique selling point, as marketing types call it, is that it’s the same, but different. The same as the Volkswagen it’s related to, but different.
Now, if you were in the UK you’d be able to choose from 31 variants of the Kodiaq. There’s two different engines, three grades in the line-up, manual or auto, five or seven seats, all-wheel drive or two. The bad news for us in Australia is there’s only one variant (for now). The good news is it’s the top-of-the-range variant the 132TSI 4X4 petrol with the DSG and seven seats. If it were a hamburger it would it would have pineapple, bacon and an egg on it – yup it’s the Kodiaq with the lot.
|Skoda Kodiaq 2017: 132 TSI (4X4)|
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
Bentley, Porsche, Audi, Volkswagen and Skoda. They’re all members of the Volkswagen Group with the Skoda sharing a family resemblance particularly to the Audis and VWs, while maintaining its own distinctive look which has become even more refined and attractive with each new generation and model.
The Skoda Kodiaq sits on a platform that the Volkswagen Tiguan also uses – picture it like a skateboard that can be stretched or shortened. In the case of the Kodiaq it’s a longer version of the skateboard so that there’s space for a third row of seats at the back, but it still shares the same mechanicals as the Tiguan.
The Skoda Kodiaq is not as much of a giant as it appears in the pictures. It’s not small either but the dimensions show it to be 4697mm end to end, 1882mm across and 1676mm tall (with roof rails).
Compared to the Nissan X-Trail ST the Kodiaq is 7mm longer, 62mm wider and 26mm taller. The Honda CR-V VTi-L is also a seven-seater and it’s about 100mm shorter in length than the X-Trail. The Santa Fe Active is only 3mm longer than the Kodiaq, while the Sorrento is 83mm longer.
Clean, crisp creases to its panels, muscly rear haunches and a wide stance make the Kodiaq look big and tough, but elegant. I’m still not sold on the grille styling, personally I think it appears a little dated now especially for an SUV which is so new – it made its public debut at the 2016 Paris motor show.
The seats in our Kodiaq were Alcantara and leather.
Inside the cabin is what you’d expect from a super-new SUV and as with Volkswagens the Skoda Kodiaq’s cockpit is beautifully minimalist and functional. There’s a long slab-like dash, flat-bottomed moulded steering wheel, and LED ambient colour lighting (choose a colour depending on your mood).
The seats in our Kodiaq were Alcantara and leather. The leather is nice but the Alcantara feels like velour and together they remind me of a jacket my Dad always used to wear in the 1980s which was part wool and part leather. He loved it but it was truly terrible. Luckily thanks to its quirky character it can pull off the combo – the Skoda I mean, not Dad.
You know how the different states of Australia have slogans on their number plates that perhaps they hope sums them up or hints at what they aspire to be? Victoria: the Education State; Queensland: Sunshine State; and Tasmania: Explore the Possibilities. Well, Skoda’s tagline is: Simply Clever.
That’s clearly what it’s decided is the point of difference between it and Volkswagen or other brands. So you’ll find cool little practical Easter eggs in the Kodiaq such as the umbrellas hiding in the front doors like torpedos, the tablet holders for rear passengers which are mounted to the backs of the front seats and a pop-out LED torch in the boot.
And we haven’t even talked about the regular practical features, such as the legroom in the second row which is excellent for a mid-sized seven seater – I’m 191cm and have about 4cm of space between my knees and the seat back, while there’s heaps headroom (can’t say the same about the seven seat CR-V VTi-L).
The third row is cramped for somebody my height, but a nine-year old Richard Berry would have loved sitting back there and not just because it was as far away from his parents as possible.
Up front the seats are comfortable with an extendable base for better thigh support.
Cabin storage is excellent with bottle holders in all doors, one cup holder in the third row, three in the fold down armrest in the second row and two more up front. Also, up front there’s a big under-dash storage area where you can chuck wallets and keys and phones, and there’s a bin in the driver’s door. These make up for the fairly shallow centre console storage area.
The Kodiaq’s boot capacity is 630 litres (VDA) with the third row folded, that’s bigger than the CR-V’s (522 litres) bigger than the Mazda CX-5’s (442 litres), bigger than the Toyota RAV4’s (577 litres) and also the five-seat Tiguan’s (615 litres).
With the third row in place you’ll have 270 litres of boot space at your disposal.
Yes, we only have one type of Kodiaq in Australia for now, but it has the most powerful petrol engine you can get in this model (you can read about that below) and it comes with a giant standard features list. Does that make it pricey? Well, it’s getting up there. We’re talking $42,990 and that’s a tad frustrating and limiting for many people, not having a more affordable entry point into this model.
The upside, as we said, is the one Kodiaq we do have is seriously outfitted with gear. You’ll get an eight-inch screen and a media system with sat nav, Apple Carplay and Android Auto, and Bluetooth. There’s proximity unlocking and push-button start, adaptive cruise control, and tinted rear glass. The seats are a combination of Alcantara and leather upholstery, there’s dual-zone climate control, and an auto tailgate. Along with a rear view camera, LED headlights and front and rear parking sensors, there’s advanced safety technology, too (which you can read about below).
Our test car was fitted with the $5900 Launch Pack which added more advanced safety equipment plus 19-inch alloy wheels, adaptive chassis control, driving modes, gesture tailgate and an off-road setting.
There aren’t many seven-seater mid-sized SUVs out there, but if we were to list a couple of others you should check out there’s the Nissan X-Trail ST-L for $38,090 and the Honda CR-V STI-L for $38,990, but they are both only available as a two-wheel drive.
The Hyundai Santa Fe Active is $40,990 and the Kia Sorrento Si 4x4 is $44,990. Both are a tad larger than the Kodiaq but they’re all-wheel drive and have seven seats, although they don’t have the same premium feeling as the Skoda.
Before you know it the Kodiaq’s ‘twin sister’ the Tiguan Allspace will be here, you’ll most likely pay a small amount more for the VW badge, though.
A seven-speed DSG ‘automatic’ transmission does a good job of shifting gears fairly smoothly.
The combination of this engine and transmission makes for a relatively powerful and responsive team that makes driving even more engaging.
DSGs are good for fuel economy and Skoda says that using 95 RON (that’s premium unleaded) you should get a mileage of 7.6L/100km under combined driving conditions. After our time in it which mainly took in daily city usage, but also saw motorway and national park adventures our Kodiaq needed 11.8L/100km.
You’re not going to find a mid-sized seven-seater SUV at this price that’s better to drive than the Kodiaq – unless it’s the Tiguan Allspace in which case I’m expecting a similar high level of comfort and good performance.
That ride is excellent, almost limo-like, that front suspension almost too soft, but handling is good and made better by the adaptive chassis control and drive modes from the Launch Pack. Grip is good too, and the all-wheel drive system maintains excellent traction even in the wet.
Drawbacks for me is the steering which feels too light and too slow and the brake pedal has a ‘spoungey’ feel.
That 2.0-litre engine is excellent – it’s responsive and likes to play. I’m not the biggest fan of DSGs because at lower speeds they have a jerky trait, but when you’re belting along it seemed to be far more decisive and shifts hard and fast.
During my daily commutes I had to turn the stop-start function off – it’s excellent at saving fuel, but more annoying than a telemarketer with the way it shuts down the engine when slowing down to a stop. I found that stop-start function even a bit unsafe when turning right at intersections waiting for a gap in the traffic, only for it to kill the engine just as I was ready to go. That incident was enough for me to turn it off for good.
Forward visibility is excellent, while rear visibility is restricted by the high, small back window, but a reversing camera solves this issue.
On the wet night I took it through Royal National Park I felt that the ESC was overly keen to step in ‘assist’ me, but better to be safe right? Those LED headlights also cut through the drizzle and darkness impressively.
The Kodiaq is not enormous and navigating through car parks didn’t pose any issues and the auto-parking function worked perfectly for me every time.
5 years / unlimited km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
The Skoda Kodiaq scored the maximum five-star ANCAP rating in 2017. There are nine airbags with curtain airbags covering the front, second and third rows. The Kodiaq 4x4 also comes standard with city AEB.
Servicing is recommended annually or every 15,000km. Skoda says that for a 2017 Kodiaq owners can expect to pay $319 for the first service, $404 for the second, then $657, $1209, $490 and $641 for the fifth.
|132 TSI (4X4)||2.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$34,988 – 38,941||2017 Skoda Kodiaq 2017 132 TSI (4X4) Pricing and Specs|
|132 TSI Sportline||2.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$28,900 – 38,280||2017 Skoda Kodiaq 2017 132 TSI Sportline Pricing and Specs|
|140 TDI (4X4)||2.0L, Diesel, 7 SP AUTO||$32,900 – 43,120||2017 Skoda Kodiaq 2017 140 TDI (4X4) Pricing and Specs|
|140 TDI Sportline||2.0L, Diesel, 7 SP AUTO||$33,000 – 43,230||2017 Skoda Kodiaq 2017 140 TDI Sportline Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||8|
|Engine & trans||8|