2019 Skoda Kodiaq Scout: First Drive Review
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Does the addition of the Scout variant make the Skoda Kodiaq experience any different? Read-on to find answers.
The Kodiaq Scout is Skoda’s attempt at making this seven seat SUV feel more rugged and appeal to a wider audience. Skoda is trying to capture the market of the bigger ladder frame SUVs like the Toyota Fortuner and Ford Endeavour that are similarly priced to the Scout variant. So is the Scout variant experience any different from the standard Kodiaq? We got behind the wheel of this SUV to find answers.
The Scout moniker on a Skoda car generally suggests a variant that is more rugged looking and has more rough road capabilities. With the Kodiaq however it is toned down considerably. Upfront except for the silver finish on the lower bumper there aren’t any changes. So you get the same full LED headlamps that are beautifully detailed. In profile the 18 inch alloy design is the same as you get on the L&K variant, but now you get a dual tone silver finish on it. Another addition is the Scout badge on the front fender. Overall the silhouette of the Kodiaq still resembles a jacked up estate than an SUV. Like the rest of the car the changes at the rear are subtle. You get silver finish on the lower bumper and instead of the renowned winged arrow badge now you get S-K-O-D-A lettering pasted across the boot lid. Overall the changes on the Scout are subtle and there isn’t much to shout about. Ground clearance too at 188mm remains the same and like with Style and L&K variant you get underbody protection if you decide to take this SUV on a beaten path.
The changes on the inside are more substantial. The first thing you notice is the all-black colour scheme which makes the interior look more sporty and thanks to the large glass area the cabin still feels airy. You also get alcantara leather upholstery on the door pads and the seats which looks premium and lifts the cabin’s overall ambience. Another addition on the Scout variant are the faux wood inserts on the dash and door pads. Other than these changes the cabin remains unchanged, so you get the same dash that looks modern and overall fit and finish is top-drawer.
As far as comfort is concerned the first two rows of the Kodiaq are very comfortable while the third-row is cramped and best for short drives. The middle-row experience is further enhanced by the headrest extension that acts like a neck pillow. Add the reclining backrest and sunblinds to the equation, the Kodiaq makes for a great chauffeur driven car too. With all-rows up boot at 270 litres is decent but once you fold the third-row this number rises to a humongous 630 litres.
When it comes to features apart from the alcantara leather upholstery, an off-road mode and tyre pressure monitoring system, the Scout has similar amount of equipment as the Style variant. So you get a car that is well loaded, as you get features like panoramic sunroof, an eight inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 9-Airbags and a 10-speaker Canton audio system. When you switch to off-road mode, the infotainment screen displays things like an altimeter, compass and tyre position, along with engine oil and coolant temperature.
Engine and Performance
The Kodiaq Scout is powered by the same 2.0 litre diesel engine from the EA189 VW engine family. It produces the same 150PS and 340Nm of torque as before and is coupled to a 7-speed dual clutch automatic.
Like before this engine is surprisingly smooth for a diesel, which makes it very easy to drive. This motor cruises well too and the tall seventh gear means the engine is running at a relaxed rpm even at three digit speeds. The seven-speed dual clutch auto is smooth when it needs to be and is quick to downshift when the need arises. On the down side where the diesel engine feels strong till 3500rpm, it loses steam post that. With an almost Rs 40 lakh on-road price-tag we expected a bit more performance. We feel Skoda should have given the higher state of tune of this same engine that you get in the Superb considering the Kodiaq is more expensive.
Apart from the Eco, Comfort, Sport and Individual drive modes, the Scout also comes with an off-road mode. This mode basically activates the hill descent control system which should aid this SUV while driving down a steep decline in slippery condition. But other than that, this SUVs off-road capabilities remain the same, so tackling mild off-road condition won't be a problem. But it definitely can't match the off-road capabilities of ladder frame SUVs like the Toyota Fortuner and Ford Endeavour which come equipped with better clearance and a low-range gearbox.
Ride and handling
Out on the road the most impressive bit of the Kodiaq Scout is the reassuring feel you get at any speed. This Skoda SUV always feels planted and unfazed irrespective of the road condition or vehicle speed. Then there is the handling which is impressive for a car of this size and weight. The well tuned suspension lends the Kodiaq great composure through the corners and even when you push this 7-seater hard it feels at home. What's even more impressive is the way this car masks its 1.8-tonne girth as it feels nimble in quick directional changes and the AWD system guaranties leech like traction at all times. On the downside the suspension does feel firm at low speeds and sharp edged bumps also tend to catch the suspension out as the Scout thuds through them. Sound insulation though is really good and there is precious little tyre or wind noise entering the cabin.
As compared to the Style variant, the addition of the Alcantara leather upholstery, features and other cosmetic updates makes the Scout variant a more attractive and premium proposition. What would have made it even better is if Skoda had offered the fantastic Virtual cockpit instrumentation screen and the 360 degree cameras that you get in the L&K variant. But considering the Scout is almost Rs 3 lakh cheaper than the L&K variant, these features aren’t sorely missed. Apart from being good value what makes the Scout a great buy are the traditional Kodiaq strengths like great interior quality, loads of convenience and safety features and its great road driving manners.