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2022 Skoda Kodiaq Petrol Review: The Enthusiast's Seven-Seater!


A petrol engine in a big 7-seater seems rather indulgent. Does the Kodiaq change for the better with it?

The Skoda Kodiaq's facelift brings with it a few cosmetic tweaks and a features list that gets an ever so gentle boost, all of which have been welcome updates. But the switch to petrol power (exclusively) hasn't been without its detractors.  

While the apprehensions aren't entirely without merit, there's plenty to like about this change. In fact, you might just enjoy the Kodiaq more than ever.

Meat Of The Matter

It's funny how the swap from TDI to TSI is a matter of just one letter, but it alters so much. It's still a 2-litre, turbo four-cylinder that comes paired with a seven-speed DSG auto box and all-wheel drive. While the torque drops by 20Nm, the Kodiaq petrol is good for 190PS, a significant bump up over the erstwhile diesel.

But before we get ahead of ourselves, yes, it's a thirstier bear now, with the rated fuel efficiency hovering just under 13kmpl (diesel was 16.25kmpl). And frankly, while the relative fuel efficiency is a downside, it's literally the only compromise with this switch! It all looks up from there.

FYI: While Skoda-VW's 1.5-litre engine (T-Roc, Taigun, Karoq & Kushaq) gets active-cylinder deactivation, this 2-litre engine does not

First, the obvious benefit of refinement. This 2-litre has proven its silky smoothness in the Octavia, Superb and Tiguan, and maintains this nature in the Kodiaq as well. Sure, you can hear it a bit as you drive off from a dead stop, but because this engine has generous low-rev grunt, the transmission's quick to shift up the ratios. You're already in fourth gear at 40kmph! Before you know it, you're cruising at 60-70kmph, wondering if there's an electric motor handling the propulsion duties because it's hauntingly quiet.

The throttle response is measured too, so rest assured, it'll make office commutes a peaceful affair, and even your driver will appreciate the vibration-free experience. But is the Kodiaq now a more enjoyable car to drive? Yes!

The old 2-litre diesel offered adequate performance leaving no real room for complaint, but at no point would it make you go wow or feel special -- a reasonable expectation when you're coughing up nearly half a crore for a car. With the switch to TSI power, you get an engine that's happier when pushed. Taking the engine closer to the redline doesn't feel futile or clattery like in the diesel, and there is more performance being tapped into as the rev needle moves up.

It's not a motor with knock-your-socks-off performance in a 1.8 ton SUV like the Kodiaq, but it does make a big car feel zippy to drive. The magic is where it blends into the Kodiaq's near sedan-like driving mannerisms. The Kodiaq has this special ability to mask its size and can easily put a smile on your face when the roads get twisty. Of course, there is some body roll, but it's a sneeze-in-a-hurricane compared to its ladder-frame alternatives that would have you actively braking in spots where the Kodiaq would encourage acceleration.

And that's a significant point of difference between cars like the Skoda Kodiaq or VW Tiguan AllSpace and the Fortuners, Glosters, or Alturas G4s of the segment. The ladder-frame alternatives offer a more authentic SUV experience; that is to say, they're more rugged and abuse-friendly when the roads get rough. SUVs like the Kodiaq are better options over smooth roads because their ride is more settled, and they offer more control from behind the wheel while still being reasonably capable of dealing with potholed or badly surfaced roads.

On DCC

Skoda has also introduced Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) with the Kodiaq facelift, Skoda-speak for electronic damper control. DCC changes the ride with Normal, Comfort, and Sport modes. 

FYI: We did a blindfold test in the 2nd row to see if the passenger could feel the change in ride with DCC

'Sport' does make you feel more of the road surface, but we couldn't tell much of a difference between Normal and Comfort. While it is a nifty bit of tech, the difference isn't night and day, but the adaptive damping makes the Kodiaq more malleable to changing road conditions.

Upgrades Inside

The other changes in the Kodiaq are in line with what you'd expect from a mid-life update. The steering design has been changed (two-spoke with 'L&K' and 'Style' and a three-spoke steering for 'Sportline'), and if you prefer an all-black interior, you can opt for the 'Sportline' where you earlier had the 'Scout'. Not many changes in the basic layout, and it's still a great place to be in with top-notch quality for every bit of trim, switchgear, or upholstery.

As before, the Kodiaq is loaded to the brim with features, and the facelift adds some more:

  • The Kodiaq now gets heated and ventilated front seats

  • The Canton audio system goes from a 10 to 12-speaker setup which offers excellent sound quality

  • Wireless Android Auto & Apple CarPlay get supported with a front wireless phone charger

  • There are 10 ambient lighting colours to choose from

  • In addition to the rear camera, the Kodiaq now also gets a surround-view camera

Other Features

12-Way Powered Front Seats With Memory

10.25’’ Digital Virtual Cockpit

8’’ Touchscreen & 12-Speaker Canton Audio

3-Zone Climate Control

Panoramic Sunroof

Split-Folding/Sliding 2nd Row & 50:50 Split-Folding 3rd Row

Powered-Tailgate With Hands-Free Operation

Cruise Control

Leatherette Upholstery

The misses & brickbats:

  • Unlike the facelift Kodiaq available overseas, the India-spec car misses out on a front seat with massage function and front seat under-thigh support extension.

  • The Kodiaq gets no advanced driver assistance features. Including features like blind spot monitoring, lane keeping aid, rear cross-traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control would've significantly enhanced the drive experience, especially on highways. It may have increased the cost, but this segment's customer isn't too price-sensitive, really.

  • While the 8-inch touchscreen is fluid to use and functionally sound, the model overseas gets a bigger 9.2-inch screen option. Compare the Kodiaq's interface to the Tiguan, and it feels dated.

  • Skoda India's given the Matrix LED headlight option a miss. That said, the nighttime performance of the standard LED projectors is strong, even on entirely unlit highways.

  • Spacious and practical as the Kodiaq is, its last row is somewhat cramped, making it more of a 5+2 seater than a proper 7-seater. The best at seating seven in the segment remains the MG Gloster.

The Facelift

The new Kodiaq's design tweaks aren't significant, just noteworthy, and the Kodiaq maintains its under-the-radar styling appeal. The bumpers have been redesigned, the headlights are smaller but curvier, the taillights get a new light signature and dynamic turn indicators, and there's a new, meatier grille. The 18-inch wheels are standard across the range, and while the 'L&K' gets a two-tone version of the Style's variant's wheels, the 'Sportline' brings a more aggressively designed set of 'Askella Anthracite' alloys.

Verdict

While the updates certainly have enhanced the Kodiaq's value proposition, they don't give you any more reasons to buy it than what you already had in the first place. For around Rs 40-42 lakh (on-road), if you want a more rugged, punishment-accepting SUV with more of the intimidation factor, you'd probably tilt towards its ladder-frame alternatives.

This is still the most corporate-friendly SUV for the price and your best bet if you want a big SUV with sharp dynamics and mannerisms close to a sedan. 

The Kodiaq's understated and sophisticated styling, luxury car quality, and loaded features package still make it an excellent choice for the kind of audience it's trying to appeal to.

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