The dearest model in the Kodiaq lineup is fully loaded on kit, but what about ability?
SUVs look like they should be handy off road, but the reality is that expensive mechanical gubbins such as four-wheel drive, locking differentials and raised suspension are gradually being dropped in favour of better fuel economy, roomier interiors and sharper pricing.
Still, some rural buyers do require a little more than the basic ability to take the kids to school. What do they do?
Well, they can shell out £50,000 for a basic Land Rover Discovery – or they can now look at this new Skoda Kodiaq Scout.
The Scout is largely the same as a regular Kodiaq in having seven seats, a roomy and polished cabin and the choice of a refined 2.0-litre diesel engine. A few additions give it better off-road potential. They include underbody skid plates, four-wheel drive and an ‘off-road assist’ mode that plays with the accelerator response, dampers and diff lock to boost traction. You also get standard hill hold and hill descent control systems, plus marginally more ground clearance.
2017 Skoda Kodiaq Scout 2.0 TDI 150PS DSG 4×4
Engine: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbo, diesel
Torque: 251lb ft
Top speed: 119mph
Fuel economy: 49.6mpg
CO2 rating/BIK: 149g/km, 31%
Some distinguishing style points like silvered front grille trim, side windows, door mirror housings and roof rails, along with tinted rear windows, 19-inch alloy wheels and Scout badges complete the package.
On the road, the Scout’s extra ride height doesn’t reduce the standard Kodiaq’s agility. Direct steering and a remarkable absence of pitch and roll give it the edge over both the Peugeot 5008 and the Land Rover Discovery Sport.
The downside of this prioritisation of dynamics over ride quality is that the Scout gives you no comfort bonus over the regular Kodiaq. Its jitteriness on all but the smoothest roads is tough to set aside, and slightly annoying given the knowledge that Skoda can make a smooth riding and handling SUV.
Scouts can be powered by any of the current Kodiaq engines apart from the weakest version of the 1.4-litre TSI petrol unit. So your choice is from 148bhp 1.4 and 178bhp 2.0 turbo petrols, and 148bhp and 187bhp 2.0-litre diesels.
Our favourite ‘normal Kodiaq’ engine is the 148bhp diesel. There are quieter diesels in that sector, but its low-down pull and relative effortlessness makes it an easy choice. To partner it, we would go for the more relaxing DSG automatic over the six-speed manual gearbox.
Driving the Scout on muddy, rutted tracks quickly reveals that its off-road ability will more than satisfy 99% of buyers’ requirements. The main limiting element will probably be the Scout’s road-based tyres.
Inside, the Scout’s interior specification is based on Kodiaq SE trim, so you won’t feel shortchanged on toys. Standard equipment includes cruise control, air con, LED ambient lighting, a DAB radio, eight-speaker stereo and superbly comfortable Alcantara seats. The generally swish ambience is slightly detuned by the poor-looking imitation wood dominating the dash. It’s out of keeping for a vehicle costing more than £30,000. Luckily, the infotainment system is much nicer, centred on a responsive, quick and intuitive a 9.2in touchscreen. Although adult space is fine in the first two rows, realistically it’s kids only in the third.
Now we get to the biggest hurdle: the price. With the 1.4-litre petrol engine and manual gearbox, a Scout will cost you £32,330. Move up to our recommended 2.0-litre diesel DSG spec and you’re well over £35,000.
It may be worth it, however, if your daily motoring takes in unmetalled roads. Few cars outside the even more expensive Land Rover Discovery Sport will take a beating more efficiently than the Scout, and its full specification does mean you don’t have to shell out more on top for additional equipment.
But if you and your six passengers only enter the muddy wilderness a handful of times a year, the standard Kodiaq SE will probably be enough.