Skoda’s loaded and luxurious full size SUV, the Kodiaq, now comes with the exclusive L&K moniker. We get behind the wheel to tell you what’s hot and what’s not
Skoda has given the L&K treatment to its biggest SUV, the Kodiaq. Now the Kodiaq we know was launched in 2017, in just the Style variant. But the Czech carmaker has added a lot more bells and whistles on the new top of the line L&K variant. With the Kodiaq already priced at a premium over its main rivals like the Toyota Fortuner and Ford Endeavour, how does the new L&K variant with an even higher price tag fare? We find out.
When we first drove the Kodiaq back in 2017, we were left generally impressed by its on-road mannerisms and practicality. With its well thought out features and premium build quality, it checked a lot of the right boxes. However, it hasn’t been designed to be as tough as its more rugged rivals like the Fortuner and the Endeavour. It gets a monocoque design instead of the more traditional ladder-frame setup seen on its rivals, which makes it more comfortable on the road than off it.
Skoda is one of the oldest car brands in continuous existence and was originally called Laurin and Klement, named after its two founders Vaclav Laurin and Vaclav Klement. The L&K badge pays homage to them and is worn by only the most premium cars from Skoda.
On the new L&K variant, you get minor cosmetic upgrades on the outside. Up front, the grille now features chrome vertical slats instead of the blacked out design on the Style variant. Additionally, there are body-coloured sills instead of the rugged black cladding. On the sides, the Laurin & Klement badging sits atop the fender, distinctly reminding you of the rich history that accompanies it.
Apart from additional chrome up front, there is more bling on the rear as well, with the faux dual-exhaust outlets, which make the L&K variant look a tad sportier than the regular Style variant. There is also the addition of silver accents on the roof rails to round of that premium appeal on the outside.
What we would have liked here though is a distinctive new design for the alloy wheels. Skoda has given the L&K variant the same wheels as the ones found on the Style variant, which is a bit of let down. These 18-inch ‘Trinity’ units come shod with 235/55-section tyres.
The changes are fairly minor, but are in keeping with the Kodiaq’s understated design. It still looks elegant and isn’t flashy or in your face. These new additions on the L&K are well complemented by the all-new Magnetic Brown colour, exclusive to this trim.
The Inside Job
Things get pretty exciting the moment you step inside the cabin of the all-new Kodiaq L&K. The biggest changes here include the all-digital Virtual Cockpit instrument console that replaces conventional dials with a coloured TFT screen. Borrowed from more expensive Audis, though with Skoda’s own visual setup, this massive 12.3-inch unit provides all vital statistics including speed, fuel consumption, power figures and even navigation info. The high-res screen is more legible than traditional dials and can be set according to the selected driving mode.
The other big addition here is Skoda’s 360-degree parking camera system called the Area View. The setup consists of four cameras: one in the grille, one on each of the wing mirrors and one at the rear, which provide a surround view along with a bird’s-eye view to make parking and manoeuvring this large SUV a breeze. You can also choose to see each camera's feed separately or in a top-down view. The system also lets you focus on a particular side of the car to accurately detect and identify any hidden or unseen obstacles. However, the feed here isn’t particularly high res, which does tend to hinder the system’s full functionality in dimly-lit situations.
The 8-inch touchscreen infotainment unit remains the same as the one on the Style variant with the same 10-speaker Canton sound system. Although it does sound pretty good, with clear vocals and a punchy bass, we would have loved to see the brilliant 12-speaker system from the Skoda Superb as an audio upgrade for the L&K. The system comes equipped with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, with the former working seamlessly in our time with the SUV.
With the L&K variant, you also get L&K inscribed upholstery along with the logo sitting flush on the new piano black finish dashboard. Other features such as hands-free parking, 12-way adjustable powered front seats, a panoramic sunroof, 3-zone climate control and an electric tailgate have been carried over from the Style variant as is.
Safety features also remain the same with nine airbags, traction control, electronic stability control, hands-free parking, rear parking camera with washer, and fatigue alert.
While many did hope Skoda would offer the Kodiaq in a more powerful spec, at least for the L&K, both variants of Skoda’s big SUV get the exact same powertrain, with no change in tune.
It gets the same 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder diesel engine that also powers the Style variant. This is also the same engine as the one in the Superb sedan where it makes 177PS instead of 150PS on the Kodiaq. The drive experience is no different from what we experienced in the Kodiaq Style. Refinement levels are appreciable and the strong noise insulation results in a peaceful in cabin experience. Power delivery isn’t brisk or exciting, it’s just enough for your daily drives, nothing more. Driving in city is also a very smooth experience, thanks to the 7-speed DSG gearbox which is very intuitive and rarely gives you reason to intervene. It’s also quick to respond, but power delivery from the engine isn’t what you’d call effortless. The Kodiaq’s engine, in this tune, doesn’t have that extra bit of punch you’d want on the highway and revving it hard just makes the engine sound strained. As a result, you do need to plan your overtakes a bit at high speeds. The Kodiaq is a great city slicker, but had Skoda offered a little more muscle with this motor, it would have been even more appealing as a highway cruiser.
Thanks to its suspension setup, the ride on the Kodiaq remains mostly comfortable at highway speeds, save for some side to side movement that passengers will experience over undulations. However, at low speeds, sharp bumps do make the Kodiaq sweat a little as they will be heard and felt in the cabin. It simply doesn’t feel as punishment friendly as an Endeavour or Fortuner.
That said, off-roading wasn’t the forte of the Kodiaq then and isn’t now as well. While it does get the 4X4 system with an electronically controlled multi-plate clutch, the all-wheel drive is more adequate for tackling varying terrain than for hardcore off-roading. The Kodiaq has ample grip on gravel, mud and snow, but tackling steep inclines or declines in it is asking a little too much.
Priced at Rs 35.99 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), the Kodiaq L&K costs nearly Rs 1.5 lakh more than the Style variant. With such hefty bump up in the price, you get a host of premium additions such as the jazzed up exteriors, digital consoles and 360-degree cameras to place it in luxury territory. However, what the Kodiaq L&K misses on is upgraded performance and with its competition being considerably cheaper, we do think that the extra moolah you’ll have to shell out for the L&K isn’t completely justified. However, if you have zeroed in on the Kodiaq, you probably care about getting a luxurious experience and are already willing to pay the premium over its immediate rivals. In this case, it may be more sensible to increase your budget by that last mile and get the features the L&K offers, instead of potentially regretting missing out later on.
Words: Shourya Harwani
|Variants||*Ex-Showroom Price New Delhi|