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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This year, we drove to Tuscany for our family holiday, in my new Skoda Kodiaq 150bhp 2.0 TDi DSG 2WD Edition, from Edinburgh. The car was fully loaded. The trip was made with 4 passengers and two weeks of holiday luggage and self-catering supplies: me (driving), my wife and our two kids. This is a review from the perspective of general usability, comfort and utility.

Firstly: holy crap the Kodiaq fit two weeks worth family luggage, including self-catering supplies, in the boot, with the luggage cover over it. That's a big tick, right there. We drove down, uneventfully, across the Scottish border and through England to a Travelodge near the Eurotunnel, in a day.

Kodiaq on the Eurotunnel


Then, through Eurotunnel, across France, briefly crossing the Belgian and Dutch borders, and then down to Baden-Baden in Germany's Black Forest. The Kodiaq did really well. It's been 10 years since I drove on the continent so, we started slowly, getting used to the rhythm of the traffic and then, within a few kilometres we were confidently driving at signposted limits. On the continent, this broadly means 120-130kph on motorway which is roughly 75-80mph. At these speeds, the Kodiaq had firm handling and, despite its load, the Kodiaq was surprisingly economical. When we hit Germany and 'limitless' motorways, there were a occasions where we exceeded 130kph and performed overtaking but the ratios are arranged in a way that provides confident acceleration, even past 80mph.

We then traversed Switzerland and routed OVER the Alps (rather taking the tunnels), taking in the exhilarating views and relentless hairpins of Grimselpass, Furkapass and St Gottardpass (as a successful re-try of an attempt 10 years ago where we were chased off Grimselpass just pass the first dam by a huge Swiss guy in a snowplough). This time, we had a lot cloud cover on Furkapass which was a shame but, to be honest, my concentration was on the road: there are significant sections which are only 1-1.5 cars wide and are not barriered or bollarded - one wheel off the tarmac could very reasonably result in a steep and catastrophic drop. Great fun! Again, the Kodiaq made the drive effortless. One notable problem we encountered 10 years ago was engine overheating (we ended up blowing hot air through the vents to draw heat away from the engines - Peugeot, Alfa and Landy). No problem for the Kodiaq which kept its temperature gauge smack bang in the middle. The DSG gearbox also appears to be is smart enough to automatically drop into appropriate lower gears, depending on incline, for engine braking.

On the Italian side we rejoined the motorway and then departed it to drive through the traffic insanity of Como and then onto frightening thin, poorly paved mountain road with lots of switchbacks to Veleso. Again, the Kodiaq made much of this effortless. The biggest challenge on these thin roads is in the critical awareness of the dimensions of the car, to avoid swapping paint with barriers, walls, cars, rock, etc. A challenge made moreso by the new, unfamiliar sized car. The sudden prevalence of nothing but cheap, ancient and grazed Fiats on the roads suddenly made sense! There was one instance on one of these hairpins where I had to swing the nose of the car across an incline and drop the wheels onto a road that was lower by some inches where the Kodiaq's higher ground clearance undoubtedly saved the bodywork between the front and back wheels from hitting the ground and perhaps even grounding the car.

In the hills at Veleso, near Como


From Veleso, we made a slingshot pass round the Milan ring motorway and headed south, down Italy, in the midst of 'Heatwave Lucifer' with temperatures hitting and sitting at 42 degrees C (~108 degrees F). Again, the Kodiaq handled its own temperature effortlessly. It's worth noting that Italian dual carriageway is the worst I've experienced in Europe: miles and miles of relentless lumps, bumps, potholes, patches: not just occasionally but roads actually made up of nothing but lumps, bumps, potholes, patches. The strategy seems to be to lower the speed limit rather than fix the road, with many sections posted as 70kph (~40mph) and, by the end of the holiday, I was glad we were in the more robust Kodiaq, than my wife's more delicate family saloon.

We spent a week in Tuscany, near Pitigliano, in an 'agriturismo' (farm stay) place. The countryside is a mix of rolling hills, cut with deep ravines navigated by switchbacks. It was hot. The farm had a pool. The 'vino locale' was good. From there, we explored the local countryside, towns, villages and a day trip to Rome.

Kodiaq at the agriturismo in Tuscany


All warnings are: do not drive in Rome unless absolutely necessary. We drove to Rome along the worst maintained dual carriageway I've ever been on, drove around the G.R.A (Rome's equivalent of the M25) and dipped our toe in the periphery of Rome traffic to park up at Anagnini Metro station. It was bloody hot but we had a great time. On foot, I fell on the steps down to the Colloseum and sprained and completely borked my left ankle (which swelled to twice its size and went the colour of a blackberry). But the Kodiaq's DSG gearbox meant I was able to drive everyone back to our accommodation at the end of the day with no problems.

Advice for Driving in Rome: Don't


It was about this time that I started getting my first AdBlue warnings from the Kodiaq. This is my first AdBlue car and, as it turns out, the Yara Adblue app for iOS doesn't seem to provide data for Italy. 2000km warning might seem like a lot but when your return roadtrip is going to put in ~750km per day and it's 3000km home, it is something that niggles at you. We asked, "Vendete AdBlue?" at many local petrol stations only to receive shrugs. Self-service petrol stations are the predominant type in Italy and, with 1000km AdBlue range to go, we eventually encountered a petrol station with AdBlue on pump but the selfservice/prepayment machine had no discernible options for activating the AdBlue pump - only the fuel pumps. Very frustrating.

Back on the road for the return trip - via Padua, back north east across Italy, to spend a day in Venice - we found a petrol station with AdBlue on selfservice pump AND with intuitive instructions on how to activate it. We were able to completely refill the AdBlue tank. Google Translate - which we'd been using all holiday - has a function to translate text in realtime using the camera. And at 0.50EUR per litre, it was a bargain. Even so, for a long roadtrip, I would absolutely recommend carrying at least a 10 litre AdBlue refill.

Next day, we caught a train from Padua into Venice. We had a blast. What a beautiful place.

Venice. Probably needs a vehicle snorkel.


It's also worth noting that, by the time we had arrived in Tuscany, we'd concluded that Italian toll motorways were a complete rip-off. So, we selected the option to avoid toll-motorways in the Kodiaq's satnav for the return trip. The Kodiaq handled the resulting mix of urban and rural driving really well and the satnav was absolutely on point. We came back through Switzerland, approaching from the Italian side via the Brig-glis pass. Again, the Kodiaq tackled this alpine pass effortlessly. We made our way to the French side of Switzerland and left the motorway near Champerey and headed up, up, up into the mountains with only an address and satnav to guide us. The route took us on roads which eventually degraded into single track, unpaved forest track, then more relentless hairpins, then it popped out at a remote ski-resort, all closed down except for two buildings where off-season caretaker staff had some rooms and a restaurant open. Mmmm. Fondue. Again, the Kodiaq tackled the mix of motorway, suburban, offroad (insofar as some road was completely unpaved) and mountain roads all in stride.

The last two days, through France to Raray near Paris and then from there to Edinburgh were uneventful. The Satnav worked very well and we got home in comfort.

Kodiaq at Raray, near Paris.


Other observations:

The car's Satnav displays what it thinks the local speed limit is. This is invaluable. German's seem to treat speed limits as 'advisory'. Swiss and French seem to treat speed limits as rules set in stone (Helped by an incredibly zealous and unforgiving police/gendarmerie). Italian's… Italian's delightedly seem to make it up as they go along.

Apple Maps navigation is traffic and delay aware to a level of granularity that the Kodiaq's satnav simply isn't. Through CarPlay, Apple Maps saved us hours of travel time over the course of the holiday and we often compared and switched between the Kodiaq's satnav and CarPlayed Apple Maps.

The car is properly comfortable. Discomfort will only aggravate bored kids in a car. We travelled in one of the most vicious European heatwaves on record. We travelled 3112.9 miles in perfect physical and climate controlled comfort.

The driving is effortless. The driver doesn't have to care about whether the road is motorway, urban, rural, mountain, smooth, crap or unpaved. The car's footing is firm and sure, and the acceleration is always confident. 'ECO' is perfectly fine for sedate suburban navigating and motorway cruising. 'Normal' will give you more response for overtaking and undoubtedly makes mountain road driving smoother. I found 'Sports' mode just ridiculously fussy with the gears and it seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time switching between gears, constantly trying to find a ratio with the best pull. I gave up with it.

EDIT: Also other things that the car does electronically! When you cross a national border, the car detects this and automatically displays the new nation's general speed limits for urban, national and motorway driving. The car's headlights can be switched to left-hand and right-hand traffic in settings, simply. Your speed can be displayed digitally in the display behind the steering wheel and this can be displayed in mph or kph in settings. I found this more useful than the speedometer dial.

EDIT EDIT: We need to talk about full beams. The Edition comes with full on, super-bright LED, 'asshole lights' - albeit auto-adjusting for width, depth and direction based on detected circumstance so, less assholey than fixed super-bright beams. I believe that the default setting for full beams on the Edition is 'auto-dipping'. On Italy's country roads, driving back from Rome and with the reasonable smattering of oncoming traffic, the auto-dipping beams just went completely nuts in the frequency with which they dipped and undipped. They are just NOT smart enough to know when to STAY off if there is a gap in the traffic but when you can see the 'glow' of oncoming traffic approaching the next bend. Some drivers clearly felt as though they were being flashed. I switched off auto-dipping full beams in settings. That said: being behind the power of the Kodiaq's full beams is awesome. Also: Only one USB socket? With the only USB socket powering CarPlay and Apple Maps and the front 12V socket powering a dashcam, the Kodiaq's middle row 12V socket ended up with a USB converter in it to recharge kids iPads etc.


Lastly, despite the wild differences in road type and situation, the Skoda Kodiaq 150bhp 2.0 TDi DSG 2WD Edition was incredibly fuel economical, approaching 61.7mpg over distance in some instances. Perhaps not a consideration top of mind for some but something I, at first, found pleasantly surprising and then went out of my way to see just how far the car's fuel economy could be stretched. 56mpg is not unreasonable.

Oh: and I made it back without a single scratch :D

Without a doubt, the best car I've had and one of the best holidays I've ever had.

VERY rough route-map showing outward (green), return (red) and excursion (blue)
 

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I just registered to say "a thank you" for your wonderful review.
 

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Awesome review, even read it out to the missus. Her response, "Daddy is going to want to drive to Europe now".

Lol could be a strong consideration for the future.
 

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Fantastic review......thanks for taking the time to do this.

My fiancée and I were planning a similar trip last year (taking in the Alpine passes, skirting the Italian lakes, etc.) but we had to put it on hold due to a job change. The maps, printouts, and all our highlighted planning are still sitting staring at me at home, with the plan that we will be doing that trip sometime next Spring or early Summer. I'll be printing out and highlighting some of your report to help with my planning 👍

Thanks once again for a great review.......and based on my 1800 miles so far in my 190 PS version (albeit no long family trips yet) I completely agree with your comments on the car.
 

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Excellent and very informative review .. thanks for sharing. Makes those of us still waiting very envious !
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Edited (again) for notes of auto-dipping full beams.
 

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Great review dalgir. Having spent so much time with the bear, could you also share your experience on how you find the noise level inside the car - is the diesel clatter noticeable at speed/ idle?
 

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Great review, absolutely mimics my experience in same car, as we travel 2000miles around France - I'll write a similar review when I return!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
jackiedada said:
Great review dalgir. Having spent so much time with the bear, could you also share your experience on how you find the noise level inside the car - is the diesel clatter noticeable at speed/ idle?
I've driven 'cheap' diesels and I'd say that - with the windows up - the Kodiaq is certainly quieter than most. What I _do_ like is the purr when you accelerate. Not a diesel 'clatter'. But a purr. Makes you want to accelerate just to hear it ;)
 

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I've driven 'cheap' diesels and I'd say that - with the windows up - the Kodiaq is certainly quieter than most. What I _do_ like is the purr when you accelerate. Not a diesel 'clatter'. But a purr. Makes you want to accelerate just to hear it ;)
[/quote]

I second that. Lovely sound unlike any diesel I've driven. Sounds more like a throaty v6.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Jacro said:
I second that. Lovely sound unlike any diesel I've driven. Sounds more like a throaty v6.
Yes! Exactly this! ^
 

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Yeah, sounds very nice for an i4 turbodiesel!
 

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Great review dalglir....looked like a cracking trip. Never been to Italy but it's definitely going to be soon.
 
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