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New Skoda Kodiaq SportLine 2021 review

The seven-seat Skoda Kodiaq SUV gets styling tweaks and tech upgrades in facelift

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

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Verdict

This update to Skoda’s family favourite SUV is certainly worthwhile, but it’s kept the car competitive rather than returning it to the top of the class; a lack of hybrid options doesn’t help here. This big-engined SportLine model boasts the kind of tech, comfort and practicality a seven-seat SUV should do, but we’re sure there’ll be better value on offer with a more modest trim.

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The Skoda Kodiaq has been a class stalwart since the seven-seat SUV made its debut towards the end of 2016.

Its blend of value and versatility meant larger families could tap into the talents of a machine that offered the kind of space and usability many MPVs delivered at the time – five years ago the new-car market looked very different, with the people-carrier sector still having some life left in it – yet the Kodiaq wrapped this up in a package that was more stylish and appealing.

And style is as good a place as any to start when it comes to this facelift. You might have to look closely to pick out the design changes on this mid-life update, but new headlight clusters to reflect the split-level design seen on Skoda’s other SUVs, the mid-size Karoq and the compact Kamiq, give a little more family cohesion.

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The grille has also been tweaked for a sharper look, helped by the black surround of our SportLine test model, while the bonnet design has been subtly altered, too.

Changes at the rear are also subtle, with a more prominent spoiler, fresh tail-lights and a new insert for the bumper, but they’re also effective in creating a crisper look that only becomes obvious when you see a picture of the original Kodiaq.

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There are even fewer changes inside, but the Kodiaq wasn’t broken in this respect, so it didn’t need fixing. Our SportLine test car had some carbon fibre-effect trim to go with the sportier gloss black detailing outside, while the technology is just as good as in its predecessor. However, it’s a shame that the 10.25-inch digital dash is a £395 option on this already relatively pricey £40,170 SportLine model; we’ll come to this shortly.

This sum gets you a 2.0-litre TSI four-cylinder turbo engine with 187bhp and 320Nm of torque. It’s linked to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox that sends power to all four wheels with this powertrain choice; all SportLine models come with a DSG gearbox as standard, but the two-wheel-drive 1.5 TSI 150 might be better value, at £36,340. It’ll also better this 2.0 TSI’s car’s only-average efficiency of 34.5mpg and 186g/km CO2 emissions. A lack of electrification in the Kodiaq line-up could be an issue for some in this respect.

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All SportLine models also feature seven seats as standard, and this is the Kodiaq’s calling card. The car is still based on the VW Group’s MQB platform, so space inside is unchanged and remains at a good level for this kind of car. Room in the rearmost row is fine for children, and even adults won’t grumble too much over short journeys, but anything more than a local trip will see your knees creaking as you get out, which isn’t too difficult, thanks to relatively good access through the fairly wide apertures of the rear doors and a simple sliding and folding mechanism for the middle-row seats.

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Space in the middle row is much better, and even SportLine trim’s racier, more supportive seats don’t eat into kneeroom for those sat there, giving a good level of flexibility. The rugged Czech SUV is also a nice height so that strapping youngsters into child seats shouldn’t be a back-breaking task, either.

There are 270 litres of boot space available with all seven seats in place; at the other end of the scale, there’s up to 2,005 litres on offer with both the second and third rows folded away. They stow to leave a completely flat boot floor, which gives the model an extra edge of versatility when loading items.

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On the move in the Kodiaq it’s status quo; there’s very little difference in how it drives to its predecessor, which means that even on our car’s 20-inch wheels, which look great, the ride is fluid and soft. Only really bad bumps will thump up through the structure, but while the soft set-up does help comfort, it means there is some pitching front to back, and roll in quicker corners. The chassis delivers a refined and relaxing ride, while the progressive steering means the Kodiaq is still pointy and direct enough.

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The engine matches it assuming that, again, you don’t demand too much of it. The Skoda is able to sprint from 0-62mph in 7.7 seconds but is best at part-throttle, where the maximum 320Nm of torque carries the Kodiaq along with sufficient punch, but also maximises refinement. Otherwise, at higher revs the turbocharged engine can sound a little coarse. At least the seven-speed automatic transmission is smooth and swift.

There’s more safety tech with this update, which will please family buyers. Yet the infotainment might be just as important. SportLine trim features a 9.2-inch touchscreen with built-in nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It works with the kind of snappy responses we’ve come to expect from Skoda; an intuitive layout means it’s easy to master on the move, even though there are lots of features. The graphics are great, and they’re replicated on the digital dash, which is still worth investing in, despite the price.

We also like the fact that Skoda hasn’t been tempted to integrate the climate controls into the touchscreen set-up; having these physical knobs again helps with adjusting the temperature when driving. We can’t fault the quality; despite the high price, the interior still feels well built and the materials are nice, even if the design is a little plain.

Model:Skoda Kodiaq 2.0 TSI 190 DSG 4x4 SportLine
Price:£40,170
Engine:2.0-litre 4cyl turbo petrol
Power/torque:187bhp/320Nm
Transmission:Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, four-wheel drive 
0-62mph:7.7 seconds
Top speed:133mph
Econ./CO2:34.5mpg/186g/km
On sale:Now
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Sean’s been writing about cars since 2010, having worked for outlets as diverse as PistonHeads, MSN Cars, Which? Cars, Race Tech – a specialist motorsport publication – and most recently Auto Express and sister titles Carbuyer and DrivingElectric

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