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The vanguard out to help Skoda expand its niche

S.Muralidhar | Updated on October 24, 2019 Published on October 24, 2019

The Kodiaq’s interior is well-lit with panoramic sun roof and big windows

The Haldex four-wheel drive system can direct almost 85 per cent of the torque to one wheel; though default torque split is 96:4 front to rear

The 2.0 TDI 4X4 powertrain also includes the 7-speed DSG (dual clutch) gearbox and the Haldex four-wheel drive system

Skoda’s new Kodiaq Scout delivers more features and buttresses the SUV’s value proposition

While it continues to fight to fend off the ghosts of its past, Skoda’s India portfolio has grown to acquire a certain sophistication and depth. It’s customers are a lot more comfortable with the brand and there has been enormous progress in winning back their trust. One of the vehicles that has really managed to deliver the right message and has quite frankly built itself a good rep is the Kodiaq. In about two years since launch, the 7-seater SUV has found itself a niche and a loyal bunch of customers.

Even today, Kodiaq’s design is still fresh and sharp, so it didn’t really need a facelift. But it certainly could do with a repositioning and that is what the new Scout trim variant is going to attempt. The Skoda Kodiaq has had a level of quality and premiumness that has been the reason why it has managed to take the fight to the Toyota Fortuner and Ford Endeavour. What it needed was a variant with more equipment and that could be positioned lower in the price hierarchy compared to the top trim L&K. That is what the new Kodiaq Scout will attempt — bring in some design flair and a bunch of features that boosts its sports utility vehicle character.

Design

From the outside, the Kodiaq Scout looks very much like the current models. But there are small additions to this new variant that make it look more distinctive. Many of the differentiators help identify its European and even VW roots. Take the thick matt silver skid plates that stick out of the front and rear fenders, for example, or the aluminium finish to the door mirror housing.

The other features like the split front fender, the trademark creases on the bonnet and the Skoda logo in the centre, and the headlamps are all the same. The bonnet grille is finished in black in the Scout with the butterfly chrome surround framing the fascia nicely. Slim black cladding for the wheel arches, carried over from before, try to highlight the new dual-tone 18-inch alloys. Chunky black side cladding runs along the character line and showcases the length of this SUV with three rows of seats. This is a fairly big vehicle, though it’s relatively low roofline makes it much less intimidating.

At the rear, the Skoda logo is out from the centre of the tailgate and is replaced by spaced-out chrome letters spelling out the brand. The rear diffuser with the built in exhausts give it the impression of a well-protected underbody.

Cabin

The Kodiaq’s interior was already a pleasant space with a clean finish and touches of premium trim. The Scout attempts to take it up a notch higher with an all-black cabin which again exudes a very European air about it. A combination of black leather and Alcantara upholstery for the seats makes you want to get behind the wheel as soon as you open the door. Door panel inserts in the same material and open pore wood panels on the dashboard and door hand rests elevate the Scout’s cabin and mind you these feel genuine and very apt. To identify this variant there is a fair sprinkling of the Scout badging in the cabin - on the dashboard and in the embroidered backrest of front and rear seats.

Many of the features of the cabin from the L&K variant also find their way to the new, lower priced variant, including the 10-speaker Canton sound system and the 8-inch touch screen infotainment system. The cabin is spacious, with enough legroom in the front and second row seats even for fairly tall passengers. The front seats also get 12-way electrical adjustments.

The luggage space in the boot is 270-litres, which can be expanded to 630-litres by folding the third row and to 2,005-litres by folding the second row too. Of course, the other feature that has been carried into the Scout is the virtual boot lid release. Too many shopping bags, no problem, just stick your foot under the centre of the rear fender and the electrical tailgate opens and closes by itself.

There are a few nifty comfort features for all cabin occupants - 3-zone Auto climate control, pull-up privacy sheers for the rear windows, blankets and neck restraints on the headrests (called the power nap package) for the second row passengers and even umbrellas tucked into the front doors. But, what is missing in the Scout compared to the L&K variant is the virtual cockpit digital instrument cluster and the 360-degree camera.

Performance

The Kodiaq Scout gets the same two-litre, 4-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine we have already seen in the vehicle before and in the same state of tune. The 2.0 TDI 4X4 powertrain also includes the 7-speed DSG (dual clutch) gearbox and the Haldex four-wheel drive system. The engine’s output is 150PS and peak torque is 340Nm available from about 1,750rpm. The performance of the power unit feels similar to the Kodiaqs currently available. It is neither too peppy and quick off the block nor does it feel too underpowered in any situation on the road. The powertrain is refined and the gearbox shifts quick, with manual gear selection possible using steering mounted paddles or by flicking the gear stick. The engine revs easily upto about 4,000rpm, and even in auto mode, just jab the throttle and quick kickdowns are delivered by the DSG instantly. There are five drive modes to choose from — Eco, Normal, Sport, Individual and Snow — and the changes in performance extends not just to steering and gearbox response, but also to torque split and even air-conditioner performance. There is no adaptive suspension though to deliver any changes to the ride. I expected the ride to be firmer, instead found the suspension set up to be a bit more pliant than I’d have liked.

The Haldex four-wheel drive system can direct almost 85 per cent of the torque to one wheel; though default torque split is 96:4 to the front wheels on tarmac and under normal driving conditions. A special addition for the Scout is the new off-road mode that can be selected by pressing a single button on the centre console. This gives the off-road package the addition of Hill Descent Control.

Bottom Line

The Kodiaq Scout scores high on safety with a full set of nine airbags, and electronic stability control. Also, the adaptive front lights, off-road mode and the rough road package that includes underbody protection makes it genuinely capable if taken off the beaten path. The Kodiaq Scout has been launched at ₹34 lakh, ex-showroom; and that is a little more than ₹3 lakh lower than the Lauren & Klement (L&K) variant. At that price the Scout’s package is good value and is really the best variant for customers looking for an upgrade.

Published on October 24, 2019
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