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In its Scout variant, the Skoda Kodiaq gets cosmetic upgrades inside and out along with an off-road mode and tyre pressure monitoring system
Skoda’s Scout range of cars have always been the rugged and more off-road ready versions of the car they’re based on. Internationally, Skoda sells Scout variants of the Superb, Karoq and the flagship Kodiaq SUV. However, India only gets the Scout variant of the Kodiaq. It was launched last month at Rs 33.99 lakh, ex-showroom and recently we got to drive it around the Pench Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh. Also, this is the first car to be rolled out after the restructuring announcement of VW Companies in India where Skoda India is taking the lead for product development and engineering for both brands in India.
The design upgrades on the Kodiaq Scout over the standard Kodiaq are minimal. The SUV gets front bumper inserts, a rear diffuser, roof rails and ORVMs – all now in metallic silver finish, distinguishing the Scout from the regular Style and the L&K variants. The silver bumper insert has made the Kodiaq Scout 8mm longer than the Style and L&K variants. There are also the new dual tone 18-inch alloy wheels, available only on this variant. The Scout badging on front fenders and new Skoda badging style at the rear too will help you make out that this is the more off-road focused variant.
“The off-road mode certainly makes the Kodiaq Scout better at the dirty jobs than its other variants”
On the inside, there are three major changes. The first being the all new Alcantara leather upholstery and a brush wood finish on the dashboard, both of which dial up the premium feel of the cabin. Another addition is the off-road button on the centre console that activates the hill descent control and adjusts TC and braking for better low-speed performance off the beaten path. It also displays three digital dials on the touchscreen that show the compass, altitude meter and tilt angle of the wheels. The Scout stitching on the seats is a nice touch as well.
The off-road mode certainly makes the Kodiaq Scout better at the dirty jobs than its other variants. However, it doesn't make it a full blown mud-plugging machine. Rather, it makes the Scout off-road ready, which means it can tackle mild off-road trails without breaking a sweat. At 188mm, the ground clearance too remains the same, which means that the Style and L&K variants are almost equally capable around rough terrains as the Scout. They all also get a rough road package that adds protection for the rear suspension lateral arms and brake hoses.
The trails around the Pench Forest Reserve were easily tackled by the Kodiaq Scout. And the 4X4 system and the traction control work very well. The SUV is primarily front wheel drive, but it can electronically alter wheel torque distribution when it senses loss of grip on any tyre. We were told that the system has the ability to send as much as 90% torque to a single wheel if needed. Some experimentation did highlight this aspect. With one wheel in the air, the TC worked in tandem with the braking systems, stopping the wheel with no traction from spinning, sending more torque to the tyres with grip.
“The tyre pressure monitoring system is unique to the Scout”
That said, the Kodiaq Scout remains an excellent SUV on the road. The driving dynamics are superb and it has a very European feel to it. The steering feels communicative and the suspension strikes a great balance between comfort and sportiness. Not to mention this proven 2.0-litre diesel engine that delivers all of its 148bhp and 349Nm of torque linearly. There’s of course turbo lag at the beginning of the rev range but post 2000rpm there’s a nice surge of power and the Kodiaq pulls cleanly till about 4500rpm. And do I even need to mention how good this 7-speed DSG is? This is one of our favourite transmissions. Just like in the Rapid, Octavia and the Superb, it delivers seamless, jerk-free shifts in the Kodiaq Scout too.
The Scout misses out on the virtual cockpit and the 360-degree camera and these features are only available on the top end L&K variant. On the other hand, the tyre pressure monitoring system is unique to the Scout. However, it retains all other premium features like hands-free parking, paddle shifters, 10-speaker Canton sound system, Andoid Auto and Apple CarPlay, three-zone climate control, 12-way adjustable driver and passenger seat with lumbar support, panoramic sunroof among others.
Apart from the minor cosmetic upgrades on the interior and the exterior and the off-road mode, there aren’t any major upgrades on the Kodiaq Scout over its other variants. If you’re looking for a proper off-roading machine, then the Toyota Fortuner, Ford Endeavour or the Mahindra Alturas G4 better suit the description. However, the Kodiaq Scout can surely venture into the trails to an extent. It’s an excellent car to drive on normal roads with its European sophistication and with all its creature comforts, it also pampers you and makes sure you’re cocooned in comfort all the time.