Suspension that has fully acclimatised to Indian roads and handles potholes and bumps with ease, plush interiors that feel premium beyond just surface level, and aggressive and imposing design cues give this SUV a presence and profile that has little competition, says Pavan Lall.
The Volkswagen group's new Kodiaq is one of the first big SUVs to roll out this year, with the weeks to come set to add a host of large people movers across product segments and categories ranging from mid-tier such as Kia Carens to Audi's luxury Q7.
If the years in the past have shown that SUVs are what are driving car sales, then the premium segments seem to be following suit.
Skoda's new luxury seven-seater 4x4 vehicle is a full-sized family SUV with all-wheel-drive capabilities and jam-packed with features that include heated and cooled front seats -- usually available in cars such as Mercs -- safety kits with nine airbags, driving control tech for going up and down hills, and hands-free parking.
Other technology like Dynamic Chassis Control is super cool and lets the driver adjust car suspension based on different driving modes.
While this SUV is certainly not small or mid-sized for the Indian roads, its competition is going to be largely restricted to a few players that include Toyota's Fortuner, Citroen's Aircross and perhaps the new Kia Carens although the last would be at a lower price point.
The Kodiaq comes with all the tried and tested features that accompany all Skodas.
Those are namely suspension that has fully acclimatised to Indian roads and handles potholes and bumps with ease, plush interiors that feel premium beyond just surface level, and aggressive and imposing design cues that give this SUV a presence and profile that has little competition.
Built with classic European qualities that include strong suspension, a well-powered drivetrain, luxurious interiors and design cues that make it stand out in a crowded street, the Kodiaq is a welcome introduction.
It is important to note that this is a car that has been refreshed and gone through a makeover before it was first launched -- the new changes are LED headlamps, and styling on the front of the car especially with regards to the bumper that give it a sleeker and more aerodynamic look and feel.
The drive is quick, comfortable and buttery-smooth on the road, with seats offering passengers backrest and ample leg room, and a thoroughly insulated cabin allowing attending to business calls and in-cabin meetings.
The leather-wrapped automatic gear shift is a pleasure to navigate and figuring out the 8-inch infotainment cluster screen is easy and not a confusing barrage of buttons and icons.
While driving a vehicle such as this in the inner cities may warrant the services of a chauffeur to navigate little alleys and lanes, the truth is that it isn't going to be the car a family takes to the vegetable mart.
So, its size and length are appropriate for long road trips as well as to the local country club.
Some of the highlights of this SUV are plenty of space in the rear, refined petrol motor, top-notch DSG gearbox and sharpened looks.
The downside for the most part is limited to its relatively high sticker price, and one says relative only because a sibling vehicle like the Audi Q2 sells for above Rs 40 lakh in dealerships.
Consider then that the Q2 is perhaps half the size and the Kodiaq likely has twice as many features and practical advantages over it.
The rest, as they say, is branding.
Feature Presentation: Rajesh Alva/Rediff.com