Tushar BurmanOct 22, 2019 15:48:51 IST
We’ve reviewed the Kodiaq before, in its top-end L&K variant, and we enjoyed our time with it. It remains a solid contender in the narrow space it occupies, and we continue to recommend one spend a little time considering it against rivals.
The new Scout is identical in most ways, adds a few cosmetic flourishes to make it look like it means business, removes the impressive virtual cockpit display and 360-degree cameras and most importantly: adds an “off-road” driving mode for a little extra capability. And that’s about all.
Thankfully, there isn’t a catch. Skoda hasn’t quietly removed features and conveniences that would have you go “WTF?” when you discovered you didn’t have them. You still get the panoramic sunroof, the ambient lighting, the “powernap package” that includes pillows, blankets and freaking Viking horns sticking out of the headrests to keep your CPU from flopping over. The umbrellas in the doors are still there, which are protected by automatically-deployed bumpers so you don’t scrape your doors against things, there’s still a nice infotainment system that works as well as any other and still the three rows of seats and automatic parallel parking.
To me, what makes the Scout stand out as the one to get is the new off-road driving mode and the new dark Alcantara interior. The off-road mode is combined with a software pack that puts some neat, customisable displays on the screen — wheel angle, altimeter and a compass, as well as hill descent control. We tried the mode briefly in the rugged Pench Tiger reserve, and it worked without a fuss, though it was far from challenging to the vehicle.
The interior also stands out with the use of black Alcantara, which feels very premium and sporty, and is very comfortable. In particular, I appreciate that the material is not animal-sourced. Skoda has also added some silver touches to the front and rear bumpers and some cladding along the sides to give the Kodiaq some SUV cred. The range-topping L&K variant is far too elegant in comparison. This is also the first Skoda in India to wear the new badge on the tailgate instead of the usual logo roundel.
Each time I’m in the Kodiaq (this is my fourth outing in one), I must appreciate the relaxed, laid-back nature of the SUV. Our drive from Nagpur to Pench was 105 km and took us over two hours even on the perfectly-surfaced, arrow-straight NH44. And I didn’t notice at all. The conversation flowed freely (and quietly), usually about the dire place we find ourselves at as journalists, and would have gone on for several hours more, had we not reached our verdant lunch stop in the tiger sanctuary.
Credit goes to the relatively tame 148 hp/340 Nm 2.0-litre diesel motor and the 7-speed DSG transmission, which are polite at highway speeds. Our first few outings in the Kodiaq always had someone fall asleep at some point. This time round, it was my turn as front passenger on the return trip, having a restful nap until I was awoken by suicidal truckers, motorcyclists and cattle (in that order). There is no technological solution to these apart from Judgement Day. Besides, I have things to do.
I rarely use the 360-degree cameras that the Scout lacks, but the one thing that did seem a touch out of place was the pedestrian-looking dials where the virtual cockpit used to be. The colour scheme seemed at odds with the interior, and it just looked bare. That’s the first-world-problems quota for this review.
Surprisingly, despite the added off-road mode and Alcantara, the Kodiaq Scout is available at Rs 33.99 lac ex-showroom (about Rs 41.28 lac on-road, Mumbai), making it cheaper than the top model and relatively good value. Still not an easy sale, but the practical upgrades and choices make us recommend this Scout variant more enthusiastically.
Listing image: Skoda
Remaining images: Tushar Burman
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