Skoda Kodiaq Scout First Drive Review
For a purist, unless an SUV is built on ladder frame architecture, it is merely a soft-roader which won’t go too far off the road. However, purists aren’t engineers who have been at it since forever, just to shatter notions. Take the new Land Rover Defender for example. One of the World’s favourite go-anywhere vehicles, it is now built upon a new monocoque architecture so that it also drives better on the road, which is where most SUVs spend their lives, to be honest. In its class, which includes popular machines like the Fortuner and the Endeavour, the Skoda Kodiaq is the only monocoque which can seat 7.
As a result, among the three, the Kodiaq, without a doubt, offers the most premium cabin, the most refined motoring experience on the road, and builds a strong case for itself, unless you’re really buying an SUV to make your own road. Make no mistake, the Kodiaq is equipped with permanent AWD which can take you through a soft trail, till the banks of a river or a lake. But its urbane appearance will make you think twice before you get thoughts of crossing over to the other side.
So Skoda has introduced this new Scout version which gets a new ‘Off-Road’ mode and underbody protection for the engine, oil sump, and which also covers the gearbox to an extent. This still doesn’t mean that you can wade through that lake. But you will get to its bank feeling more confident and at ease knowing that the underbody is covered. What else is new? ‘Scout’ badging on the outside and in the cabin, Alcantara upholstery, silver scuff plates at the bottom of both the bumpers, 18″ dual-tone wheels, silver-finish on the ORVMs, and lettering on the boot instead of the traditional logo.
Priced at INR 34 lakh (Ex-showroom), the Kodiaq Scout only misses out on the virtual cockpit and a 360-degree camera which is offered on the top-spec L&K trim, but it is also about INR 2.8 lakh and INR 1.3 lakh cheaper than the L&K and Style variants, respectively. Since everything else is similar, allow us to tell you more about the ‘Off-Road’ mode.
Behind The Wheel
The Skoda Kodiaq Scout, like the other variants in the range, is also powered by a 2.0-litre, turbocharged diesel engine which cranks out 150 PS and 340 Nm of torque. The motor is paired with a fast, smooth and clever 7-speed DSG gearbox, which sends power to all four wheels at all times, 96% to the front axle and 4% to the rear during normal on-road driving. Fuel economy is rated at 16.25 km/l. During our 100-kilometre drive to the Pench Tiger Reserve from Nagpur, on a smooth four-lane section, the Kodiaq’s on-board computer displayed 13.5 km/l as the engine spun at 1,600 rpm in 7th at an indicated speed of 100 km/h.
Since we’ve reviewed the Kodiaq already, you may watch the video above to know all about this SUV, including its driving dynamics and engine performance. Since it’s only a new driving mode which is the highlight here, allow us to tell you more about it. The ‘Off-road’ mode can be activated through a dedicated button next to the gear lever and it only works when the speed is under 30 km/h. Once switched on, it governs the ABS, ESC and the traction control system to make the Kodiaq fare better during tricky conditions. The mode can split the torque and send up to 90 per cent of it to the rear wheels and up to 85 per cent can go to a single wheel if necessary. During a climb up through loose gravel in normal mode, the Kodiaq Scout spun its wheels without any progress. We decided to summon the off-road mode and it climbed up without any fuss. Not just a trick then.
The Off-road mode also activates hill descent control, where all the driver needs to do is manage the wheel and the car handles the rest when it has to come down a slope. Once activated, the new mode also brings up a new addition to the crisp and smooth-functioning infotainment display. The driver is informed about the steering angle, engine temperature, there’s an altimeter and a compass.
On the road, the Skoda Kodiaq Scout is an effortless highway cruiser and impresses with its car-like dynamics and a firm but well-damped ride quality. The engine doesn’t feel as grunty but the quick gearbox does well to mask the lack of horses. The Alcantara and leather seats are supportive and comfortable. The nap package for the back seat, 3-zone climate control, a crisp-sounding 10-speaker audio system, and that massive panoramic roof only add to the luxe quotient of the Kodiaq.
As an entry into the range, the Skoda Kodiaq Scout gets all the important bells and whistles from the range-topping L&K trim, except the virtual cockpit and the 360 camera. Features which can be easily given a miss. However, it gets meaningful additions like underbody protection, which not only lends more confidence to the driver when off the black stuff but even when piloting through our poorly-built roads. That off-road mode adds more to the capabilities of this premium SUV, and everything combined, it makes the Kodiaq Scout, in our books, the pick of the range.
Considering its rivals, unless you really want something butch-looking, or wish to take your vehicle off the road to take on really challenging terrain, the Kodiaq Scout is a great choice in its segment for offering luxury, refinement and a car-like driving experience behind the wheel of a good looking and polished, 7-seater SUV. Consider this, the Kodiaq can really shame some bigger and more expensive names for what it offers. Says a lot, innit?