2019 Skoda Kodiaq Laurin and Klement: What we like and don't like
We recently drove Skoda India's new flagship SUV, the Skoda Kodiaq Laurin and Klement and came away generally impressed with the package. The Kodiaq sits in its own niche in the SUV market in India. It is more expensive than the slightly larger, most simplistic body-on-frame construction SUVs like the Toyota Fortuner and Ford Endeavour. It also happens to be cheaper and larger than offerings from luxury brands like the Volvo XC40 and BMW X1. Here are some of our observations from the time we spent with the SUV.
What we like
The Kodiaq, like all Skodas, looks underrated but has a tone of sharpness in its lines. There are no extravagant flourishes but the design looks very contemporary. It hides its bulk well and has a wagon-like silhouette unlike most of its competition. Traditional SUV traits like an imposing grille, extensive body cladding and large wheels are all present. The L and K adds to this with chrome accents on the grille, around the rear faux exhausts and silver roof rails.
The Kodiaq, in its standard Style trim, is also heavily loaded with features like three-zone climate control, a panoramic roof, powered seats for the front passengers, nine airbags, LED lighting, eight-inch infotainment with ten speakers and so on. Add to this unique Skoda touches like the umbrella in the doors, the door protectors and the portable boot-light and the Kodiaq handily beats its mass-market rivals in this aspect. These are features that are in the realm of luxury brand offerings and more importantly have practical, everyday use-cases.
The 360-degree camera and the impressive Audi-derived Virtual Cockpit instrument cluster add to this sensation of premium-ness in the L and K. This is obviously supported by the overall build quality and fit and finish. This feeling of quality is taken up a notch in the top-trim though the piano-black inserts, the Laurin and Klement monograms throughout and the metal-finished scuff plates and pedals.
The Kodiaq's car-based MQB architecture pays major dividends here. The high ground clearance and big kerb weight mean there is some amount of roll, but the sensation is never overbearing. The SUV holds its line well through corners and never feels nervous around twisty roads. Ride quality is impressive at highway speeds and passable in the city. The gearbox is quick and discreet with gearing that ekes out most of the engine's potential. The Kodiaq will also handle any light offroading that comes its way. But the AWD is more of an (effective) safety net and if you want something to go dune-bashing in, look elsewhere.
What we don't like
The only thing that we thought was a significant drawback. The Kodiaq L and K continues with the same mechanical package as the Style trim. This means it is powered by a 150 PS and 340 Nm 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel. The engine is refined and power delivery is consistent.
The motor never really feels stressed, especially in conjunction with the gearbox. The only sensation missing is that sense of effortless power that is such a draw in more expensive luxury offerings. The relative power disadvantage will only rear its head well past triple digit speeds or during those rare, optimistic overtaking manoeuvres.
The Kodiaq Laurin and Klement costs Rs 35.99 lakh (ex-showroom India). This is Rs 1.15 lakh more than the Style variant. We are not a 100 per cent convinced that this premium is justified. Sure, the adornments and features that come with lift the Kodiaq right in to luxury car territory but the price difference would have been undebatable if we also got the 180 PS version of this motor from the Superb L and K. This would have also made for a better-rounded package and one which ticks all the luxury car boxes.
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