The idea of a long term test loan is to allow journalists to experience the good and the bad things about what it’s really like to live with a car.
Most car road tests are written after a week behind the wheel, but long term tests like this one reflect many months of life with a model.
I’ve been looking after our Skoda Kodiaq since February and in that time have managed to test its abilities in a number of real world arenas.
From cross country trips to the Alps where it excelled with load space and comfort, to full-on family life adventures back home, the Skoda and I have been through a lot.
During its time with me, I’ve been busy renovating a should-have-been-knocked-down-instead house and the Kodiaq has been an absolute God-send.
Its most common habitat is the local recycling centre – or tip, to you and I. It might just be me, but on these now-weekly trips I can’t help wondering how other car owners manage with their hatchbacks and saloons.
The Kodiaq, with its third and second row of seats folded completely flat, has van-like levels of carrying space and not once has it failed to take everything I’ve wanted it to. From huge lengths of wood, to old radiators and bags of rubble, the Skoda has swallowed everything.
Family cars need to be pretty flexible as one minute they’re fully loaded with people and their holiday gear, the next loaded to the gunwales with boxes from Ikea. So it’s an ability to adapt and assist in life’s little challenges that’s so important.
It helps that the Skoda has been (mostly) carefully thought through. For example, the middle row of seats can be collapsed with a lever on the boot, so when your arms are full of soon-to-be disposed of rubbish you don’t need to run around and open a rear door to do the job.
The third row of seats spends most of its time flat in the boot floor, but when they are needed – which is surprisingly often – I’ve been very thankful they’re there. The ability to carry up to seven people is brilliant, but so too is the ability to make the seats disappear to improve boot space when you don’t need them.
Recently, family life has become a little more complicated with the addition of a new baby. Coping with the small person accompaniments is something the Skoda has helped with wonderfully. It’s not until a new baby arrives do you realise quite what a logistical challenge doing absolutely anything is.
Having a car that can swallow the buggy and bags needed to sustain a little one’s trip to seemingly anywhere is very handy indeed.
Over time, I’ve nearly got used to the Kodiaq’s sluggish throttle response that I mentioned in my previous report. For new readers, the car has a seconds-long hesitancy when you put your foot down hard at junctions or roundabouts. This borders on the annoying/dangerous, and means you have to drive very differently. However, I’ve found that a bit of planning and not stressing the engine and gearbox too much helps, but it’s far from perfect.
While I’m on the subject of gripes I’m going to rattle off a couple more – the sort that only really become apparent after a continued period of use.
The first is the doors – while the clever little black plastic protectors that pop out and protect the sides from scratching your door, or other people’s, are very helpful, most people struggle to close the doors properly. They need a bit of slam and every passenger I take leaves the door open slightly when they get in or out.
I’ve also got an issue with the warning notifications for a near-empty windscreen washer fluid bottle. The bonging once is (sort of) fine, but for it to do it every five minutes while travelling at 70mph on a motorway is frankly unnecessary. I tried to explain to the car that unfortunately I hadn’t had time to fill it up between junctions as I was travelling at the national speed limit, but it ignored me. A warning light is fine, a bonging meanwhile is completely surplus to requirements.
And lastly, a very modern moan, but the front cupholder is incapable of holding two hot drinks from a well-known coffee establishment without popping one of the lids off and emptying scalding hot liquid over the interior. I get this is a minor gripe, but the fact two coffee cups cannot sit side by side without liberally applying latte over the cabin is a major design fault in my book. And yes, I am that petty.
Gripes over, the Skoda really has become a brilliant family car. While I wasn’t sold on the looks at first, the more time I spend with it the more I admire the Sportline’s stance. It’s got a chunky, purposeful presence and in the striking blue paint with black trim, looks rather smart.
It’s incredibly comfortable too and I’ve really enjoyed having the full-length panoramic sunroof and, during the scorching summer, a truly excellent air conditioning system that even cools the very back seats.
Family cars really do have to be a jack of all trades and master of most, and I honestly haven’t asked the Skoda to do something yet that it hasn’t been able to. That, in my book, makes it a winner – even with those minor foibles.
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