The Kodiaq SportLine is the latest addition to the Kodiaq family, and, in Skoda’s own words, has been created “to appeal to drivers who like the dynamic look of Skoda’s performance models, but require the practicality of a full-size SUV”. Despite the dynamic looks, the SportLine is mechanically identical to every other Kodiaq in the range (the Kodiaq vRS will be the car that delivers a truly sporty drive), so think of it not as Usain Bolt in his running gear but, well… one of the Diesel Car team in his running shoes. Slotting above the Edition models, there are a pair of 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel engines, one with 148bhp and the other with 188bhp. So what’s new? On the outside, you’ll notice new front and rear bumpers, a black finish to the grille, mirrors and roof rails, and 20-inch alloy wheels. Subtle though the changes are, it definitely carries a more menacing look.
Climbing inside, you’ll discover the usual high-quality, spacious Kodiaq interior, with its clear dials, large infotainment screen and solid build quality, but you’ll also notice a lovely leather sports steering wheel, together with Alcantara-trimmed bucket seats and door panels, as well as memory functionality for the auto-dimming door mirrors. The cabin is nicely appointed, and the seats hug your frame, but we’re not so keen on the fauxcarbon inserts.
The model you see here is the flagship of the SportLine line-up, with a punchy 188bhp diesel engine. Acceleration to 62mph takes 8.6 seconds, which feels swift for a large seven-seat SUV, and no doubt helped by the 295lb ft of torque. The engine is quiet, refined and smooth, and is paired to a seven-speed twin-clutch automatic gearbox. For the most part it is good, but there are occasions when the transmission can get a little confused as to which gear to offer up. It will come as no great surprise for us to say that changing gear with the paddles behind the steering wheel, with the gearbox in the manual mode, makes for a surprisingly sporty experience.
Given our Arctic test location, and the icy, snowy conditions, it would be unfair for me to pass judgment on some of the other more normal tarmac-focussed elements to the SportLine, but the standard four-wheel drive system, as we discovered, can work minor miracles. Snow covered forests, icy 45-degree hills and a frozen lake were all taken in the Kodiaq’s stride. In many situations where we really should have got stuck, the large Skoda just ploughed on. Of course its winter tyres had a part to play in this, but exhibits what you can really achieve with a piece of kit that is as capable as this SportLine-badged model.
And the SportLine carries all the benefits of the standard car, with capable engines, excellent build quality and generous space, just with some added attitude. If sporty looks appeal, but seven seats are a must, this new model is a very well-rounded package that sits at the very top of the Kodiaq line-up; that is until the Laurin and Klement version arrives later this year.
On sale | Now In showrooms | Now
Prices | £34,660 to £37,120
Bodystyles | 5-door SUV
Engines | 2.0 (148bhp), 2.0 (188bhp)
Trim levels | SportLine
Also consider| Kia Sorento GT-Line, Peugeot 5008 GT Line
Model tested | SportLine 2.0 TDI 4x4
Price | £37,120
Built in | Kvasiny, Czech Republic
Bodystyle | 5-door SUV, 7-seats
Layout| Four-wheel-drive
Powerplant| 1,968cc, 4-cylinder, 16-valve, turbo diesel
Stop-start| Yes SCR| Yes
Transmission| 7-speed twin-clutch automatic
Max power| 188bhp @ 3,500-4,000rpm
Max torque | 295lb ft @ 1,750-3,250rpm
Top speed | 129mph 0-62mph | 8.8secs
CO2 emissions | 151g/km (Euro-6)
Economy (urban/extra urban/combined) | 42.8/53.3/49.6mpg
Fuel tank size | 60 litres
Range | 655 miles Insurance group | 23
BIK rate | 32%
Size (length/width with mirrors) | 4,697/2,087mm
Boot space (7/5/2 seats) | 270/720/2,005 litres
Kerb/max towing weight| 1,795/2,000kg