It might have a raised ride height, but the Skoda Kodiaq 132TSI Sportline is very much a city car. Besides a few road trips, that's where it has spent the majority of its time with CarAdvice, so we've got a fair bit to say about it. Buckle up.
The Skoda Kodiaq 132TSI Sportline has a dual-clutch transmission, and dual-clutch transmissions tend to struggle in the cut-and-thrust of city traffic. That's the headline news here, and the element that most clearly defines the Kodiaq.
On the positive side of things, this is definitely one of the better DSG examples I've driven. It's a DQ381 wet-clutch unit shared with the the Golf R, replacing the DQ500 previously used in the Kodiaq (mmm, model numbers), and although there's still the occasional moment of lag off the line, it's a smoother customer than I'd expected at low speeds.
The real niggle in this car, as with other Volkswagen Group products we've reviewed, is the combination of a dual-clutch transmission, automatic start/stop, and the auto-hold system.
There's a lot going on when the light turns green and the car needs to turn on the engine, disengage the handbrake and select first, all while the driver is trying to move off.
Best-case scenario, the whole dance feels a bit clunky and the car moves off with a jerk. Worst case, there's an uncomfortable pause as the car works it all out, before the transmission thuds into gear and you lurch off the line. It doesn't happen all the time, but it occurs often enough that the potential is always lurking in the back of your mind.
I've become quite good (humblebrag alert) at pressing the throttle gently enough to disengage the start/stop and auto-hold without causing the car to lurch forward, before feeding in the throttle and moving off – it's simple enough in practice. Question: should you have to change your driving style to meet a car? We'll leave the answers to you, commenters.
Gearbox aside, how does the Skoda stack up? It's just annoyingly competent, in that annoyingly competent Volkswagen Group way. With 132kW and 320Nm on tap, there's enough punch for most scenarios, although flicking the transmission into Sport is helpful if you must guarantee gold in the traffic light drags.
First gear is short, making it easy to get off the line with a seven-person load, and there's enough punch in-gear to get past sluggish drivers when required. It's on the highway you feel the fact this is a small car heart powering a big car, but that's a story for another day.
As you'll learn in our highway update, the Kodiaq is unbelievably quiet essentially all the time. Skoda's PR described it as a coffin and, dark imagery aside, he's on the money – there's no perceptible wind roar, and hardly any engine noise at cruising speeds. It's a great way to shut out the world around you, especially with a good album playing on the Canton stereo.
The sense of refinement is somewhat undermined by the 20-inch rolling stock fitted to our Kodiaq. Although it has adaptive damping, there's no escaping the fact they're big wheels coupled with low-profile tyres over pitted, urban roads. A set of 18s would make a huge difference, even 19s would help.
When did we reach a point where an affordable mid-size SUV needs Range Rover-sized wheels? If ride quality is top of your list, maybe the Sportline isn't the model for you.
2018 Skoda Kodiaq 132TSI Sportline