Skoda Kodiaq 2.0 Sportline 2021 UK review – Autocar

What is it?

Some facelifts are a tacit admission that there was something wrong with the original car. The Skoda Kodiaq’s is quite the opposite. It sold well from the start and continues to do so; the changes focus on making it slightly better here and there.

It has received the usual visual nip and tuck. You will mainly recognise the facelift model from the slightly slimmer headlights: they’re always LEDs now, and SE L trim and above get matrix LEDs. Inside, there’s a new steering wheel, some grey stitching and revised ‘ergonomic seats’. As before, all trims but entry-level SE get you seven seats as standard.

The engine line-up stays largely the same, with one major exception: there’s now just one diesel unit: a 2.0-litre four-pot with 148bhp or 197bhp, which always comes mated to a dual-clutch automatic gearbox.

On the petrol side, you can choose between a 148bhp 1.5-litre turbo and a 187bhp 2.0-litre turbo (tested here), both of them with four cylinders. The 1.5 TSI is the only Kodiaq you can get with a manual gearbox. Atop the range sits the vRS, which has swapped its diesel engine for the 2.0 TSI of the Volkswagen Golf GTI.

What’s it like?

You are likely to buy the Kodiaq for reasons of practicality, cost or looks: it’s not a driver’s car. However, in its own way, it’s quite satisfying to drive – quickly or slowly. Those new seats have lots of adjustment and are soft yet very supportive, while the control weights feel right, with steering that even gives a hint of feedback and brakes that are easy to modulate and inspire confidence – something that so many modern cars get wrong.

It backs that up with very tidy handling and response for what it is. The flip side is that, on the 20in wheels of the Sportline trim, the ride can get a bit thumpy for a family SUV. In general, this combination of the 2.0 TSI engine and Sportline trim isn’t the best for the Kodiaq.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the engine: it provides plenty of overtaking punch, despite sounding a little rough when pushed, and its real-world MPG – mid-30s in mixed use, high 30s at a cruise – is respectable. However, the effortless torque of a diesel would suit the Kodiaq better, as would the more restrained style and slightly smaller wheels of one of the other trim levels.

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