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    Skoda Kodiaq: 2021 CarWale Off-Road Day

    Authors Image

    Vikrant Singh

    18,142 Views
    Skoda Kodiaq Right Front Three Quarter

    Specifications

    Tyre Size and Brand: 235/55 R18 MRF Markus

    Ground Clearance: 140mm

    Off-Road Gear: On-demand All-Wheel Drive + Off-Road Driving Mode

    Price: Rs 44.87 lakh, OTR, Mumbai

    Introduction

    The Skoda Kodiaq is the seven-seater cousin of the Volkswagen Tiguan. The latter, of course, being a soft-roader that took us by surprise in one of our previous Off-Road Day events by showcasing how capable it was. The two SUVs are essentially the same underneath, from the suspension to the brakes to the tyres and even the smart off-road tech the two employ. But, the Kodiaq has a distinctively different design. More importantly, it is longer. And as we are all aware, length is not your friend when you go off-road.

    Having said that, we have seen how the Volkswagen group off-road tech works. It is smart, it is intuitive, and unless you throw in big rocks or deep slush in its way, it will most likely plough through everything. Its functioning though complicated, is easy to explain. The moment one wheel loses traction, the system brakes that wheel, which in turn doesn’t allow the drive to get wasted on a spinning wheel. It also regulates the torque going to each wheel to get the traction one needs to get out of challenging situations.

    There’s more good news for the Kodiaq. This year, the CarWale Off-Road Day is more 4H than 4L; it’s more gravel and dust and mud mounds, instead of rocks and ruts and slush. It’s a much better fit for the Kodiaq in our opinion.

    Right Front Three Quarter

    The New Location

    Left Side View

    The course this year is new. Yes, there’s no rain. The surface is slippery but flatter. And even though we are carrying tow ropes, we won’t be needing them. Unless we do something seriously stupid. Which, thankfully, we don’t. Having said that, there are still some sections that need a slow and careful approach; some that need spotting to avoid an ugly and loud metal crunching noise. And some that will require the Kodiaq to lean on its tyres, its electronics, its ground clearance, and its suspension and steering to make it through.

    The trails around the courses we have setup are mostly gravel with some ruts created by overloaded dumper trucks carrying rocks and debris out of the quarry to god knows where. Here the Kodiaq is completely at home. We don’t even have to switch to the Off-Road Driving Mode. The clearance is good enough, the ride is comfortable, and the handling is entertaining. It might be all-wheel drive, but it’s still easy to have fun with the Kodiaq on a surface like this, and get its rear to move around at will.

    The Tests

    Front View

    It’s a slightly more demanding story when it comes to the set courses, though. Take the Slalom we have set up. It’s tight. And slippery. And when pushing the Kodiaq through this course, we find ourselves battling power under-steer. The MRF tyres aren’t helping much. These 18-inchers are clearly more road-focused. A more All-Terrain centric tyre tread design would have resulted in much better control and responses. For now though, with these tyres and the slight abruptness in the off-road power delivery, we find ourselves wrestling the Kodiaq a bit. We also knock down a couple of cones. But it must be said that the steering’s quick and precise response did take the edge and fatigue out of driving the Kodiaq through this course.

    Left Side View

    The Kodiaq impresses in the 0-40-0 run too. The electronics do their bit (we have not touched the ESP or traction settings; just switched to Off-Road mode), and with some wheel spin, some tempering of power, and then with ABS working overtime, the Kodiaq manages to do better than nearly half of the other SUVs present here. It’s the same for the Beaker Test, which gauges an SUV’s ride quality off the road. Yes, some water is spilled, Venkat’s shorts are now wet, and I am a little amused. But, water spillage isn’t dramatic. Barely 100mL. And the Kodiaq doesn’t throw you around either when driving off-road, at slow speed or high. It was more composed than I had estimated.

    Front Row Seats

    The Gymkhana

    With the Kodiaq being the only other monocoque SUV in this test, it has a tough task around the Gymkhana from the get go. The gravelly main straight isn’t a problem with the Kodiaq’s smart electronics. It also manages the other fast sections of the course handsomely courtesy of its quick steering, its handling balance, and its suspension’s ability to take some pounding.

    Right Front Three Quarter

    However, the Skoda has to tread slowly and carefully over the section with sharp, jagged rocks in order to avoid blowing a tyre. It also can’t take the ‘shortcut’ because its lack of wheel articulation and ground clearance won’t allow it. Its relatively poor approach angle also means that the hill climb and the lateral tilt sections of the course slow it down significantly.

    Conclusion

    Left Side View

    The Kodiaq finished fourth among five SUVs in the Gymkhana. It finished third in the 0-40-0kmph test. And it finished second in what was an extremely tight and demanding slalom. Could the Kodiaq have done better? Not around the slalom, but with more All-Terrain focused tyre tread pattern, it would have done better in the 0-40-0 test. It would have improved its time around the Gymkhana as well with more off-road friendly tyres. But, not by much, given its road-focused ground clearance and wheel articulation. Were we impressed with the Kodiaq? Absolutely. This is a car that is lovely to drive and be transported in on the road. But, it’s also an SUV that can take you off the beaten track. And in comfort, mind. It’s not for hard-core off-road fans, of course. But for those with an adventurous streak in them, the new Kodiaq, even with its petrol engine, works wonderfully well.

    Pictures by Kapil Angane and Kaustubh Gandhi

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