Since the introduction of the Kodiaq in 2017 as Skoda’s first true SUV, and also its first seven-seater, it has gone on to become an important and popular car for the Czech firm. It’s also paved the way for smaller Skoda crossovers in the form of the Karoq and Kamiq.
It’s no massive surprise then that Skoda has worked on expanding the Kodiaq line-up – introducing premium Laurin & Klement versions (named after the brand’s founders), rugged Scout variants and also a sporty vRS version.
But if you just fancy racier looks without a massive performance and price increase, there is also this – the Sportline. Though it remains mechanically the same as non-vRS cars, it adds revised styling tweaks, including 20-inch alloy wheels, plenty of gloss black design cues and Alcantara sports seats.
Despite this ‘sporty’ billing, the Sportline model is one that’s exclusively offered with diesel engines.
Buyers have the choice of various 2.0-litre units, with all models coming with four-wheel-drive as standard. The base engine here produces 148bhp and can be had with a six-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed DSG automatic transmission, though we’re testing the 187bhp unit that is offered exclusively with the latter option.
This combination delivers a good mix of performance and efficiency, with 0-60mph taking 8.4 seconds and Skoda claiming it can hit a top speed of 129mph. As for running costs, it can return a claimed 40mpg (though a higher figure can be recorded on a steady longer journey), along with CO2 emissions of 145g/km, which have been reduced recently thanks to an additional catalytic converter that helps to reduce pollution.
Ride and handling
Behind the wheel the Kodiaq is a model that’s hard to criticise, and it’s largely down to the stable underpinnings it’s based on – the VW Group’s MQB platform. It means that it handles well for a large SUV, and while there’s body roll that’s to be expected from a model of this bulk, it is noticeably better to drive than many of its rivals.
This torquey diesel engine also offers up plenty of punch, though can be limited at times by the hesitant automatic gearbox, which feels needlessly dim-witted at lower speeds, or when you’re wanting to overtake. Though elsewhere the Kodiaq is a refined and comfortable choice, while even the Sportline’s 20-inch alloy wheels don’t harm the ride particularly.
Interior and equipment
Even on regular Kodiaqs, the interior is one of the best things about it – combining impressive spaciousness with good build quality. Both of these factors remain on this Sportline version, with the model also adding some comfortable and supportive Alcantara sports seats – adding a bit of sporty flair to the cabin, alongside carbon-fibre-effect trim and a perforated leather sports steering wheel.
But it doesn’t compromise on versatility, with all Sportline versions coming as standard with seven seats (unlike other Kodiaq trims). While the third row of seats are best reserved for smaller children, five adults will still be able to travel in comfort. The boot is also huge and class leading, with 720 litres of space with five seats upright, and that increasing to a huge 2,005 litres if you fold the rear bench down. Versatile ‘Simply Clever’ touches – including umbrellas nestled in the doors and underfloor storage for the parcel shelf – also make the Kodiaq an excellent family car
This Sportline grade is based on the SE L, and comes very well-equipped with LED headlights, a large 9.2-inch touchscreen, an electric boot and keyless entry, with additional sporty touches including the aforementioned larger wheels, black styling and Alcantara sports seats.
Given the Sportline sits near the top of this SUV line-up, it’s not an especially cheap option, with prices starting from £36,610, and our test car coming in at £38,770 before optional extras.
That’s quite the step up in price next to the regular Kodiaq line-up, which costs from £26,140.
This Kodiaq Sportline is a good choice in this Skoda’s range – adding sporty flair to what is an already handsome-looking SUV. It’s impressively spacious, has an excellent interior and is good to drive, too.
While you do pay for those sporty looks, as this trim is on the pricey side of things, it’s still noticeably cheaper than the full fat vRS version, which adds an additional £5,000 to the price. Lesser trim levels might offer better value for money, but if you’re set on the Sportline because of how it looks, you’re not likely to be disappointed.