The Scout, in Skoda’s terminology, is the rugged, off-road focused version of the road- going car in the same vein as the All-Terrain is for Mercedes-Benz or the Allroad is for Audi. For better understanding, it is the hard-wearing version of the standard car in the same way the NRG is of the Tiago or the i20 Active is of the Elite i20. In the international markets, you can have a Scout variant for almost all Skoda vehicles including the Superb and Octavia Combi. Here in India, the Scout comes as the third addition to the Kodiaq family in three years since the SUV was introduced in the country. Priced at Rs 33.99 Lakhs (ex-showroom), the Scout is the most affordable trim of the Kodiaq at the moment and comes with a rugged character without losing out on any features. Rather, it, gets a few extra features over the standard variant. So does the Kodiaq Scout make more sense than the other two variants? Let us find out.
Appearance-wise, the Kodiaq Scout is suited in rugged clothes or what Skoda calls the ‘rough road package’. Differentiating it from the standard version isn’t difficult thanks to the silver-finished wing mirrors and roof rails, newly-designed dual-tone alloy wheels finished in ‘Anthracite Trinity’, and the most imposing difference – contrast finished skid plates on both front and rear bumpers. Apart from that, Skoda has also slapped on a ‘Scout’ badging on both the front fenders. Meanwhile, at the back, the Kodiaq Scout is the first vehicle in India to replace the brand logo with the ‘SKODA’ lettering running across the tailgate.
It comes with a three-recessed skid plate on the front bumper that appears to be protruding, while the rear one has faux exhaust tip cavities on either side. However, Skoda says the revised bodywork has resulted in better approach and departure angles of 22.0 degrees and 23.1 degrees, respectively. For people looking for the bling factor in the rugged package might find the chrome surround on the windows appealing. What’s more, there are four body colours to choose from – Lava Blue, Moon White, Quartz Grey and Magic Black.
With all of this, we think the Kodiaq Scout tries its best to showcase its outdoorsy nature while trying to be subtle and understated.
Step inside and the cabin is now finished in all-black. Also adding to its alfresco feel are the brushed wooden inserts across the dashboard and on the doors. Interestingly, the seats and door pads are now swathed in Alcantara leather with stitched Scout logo on the backrest. There is one more Scout badging on the upper glove compartment and the welcoming screen on the infotainment system also reminds you that this is a Scout variant. Also exclusive to this variant are the buttons placed on the centre console which we’ll talk about later.
And that’s where the differences end. So, the Kodiaq Scout continues to be a spacious, practical and comfortable SUV on the inside. All the buttons, materials, and touchpoints exude good quality. There is enough headroom and knee room for passengers in the front and middle row. And the second and third-row seats fold flat to carry all the camping equipment should you decide to be a bit adventurous with the Scout.
In terms of features, the Scout comes laden with all the bells and whistles such as panoramic sunroof, LED headlamps, 10-colour ambient lighting, three-zone climate control, 12-way electrically adjustable front seats, electric tailgate, 10-speaker Canton music system, hands-free parking and typical to Skoda – two blankets and umbrellas, extendable support on headrest in the second row, digital voice enhancement between the front and middle row, and ultimately, the removable lights in the boot. In terms of safety, the Scout comes with nine airbags, electronic stability control, TPMS, adaptive lights and special to this variant – an off-road mode with hill descent control. Overall, the Kodiaq Scout is a pretty well-equipped car.
Powering the Kodiaq Scout is the same 2.0-litre four-cylinder TDI engine as the other variants with no change in output – 147bhp/340Nm. It is mated to a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox and an electronically controlled 4x4 system. Under normal driving conditions, this all-wheel-drive system sends almost 90 per cent of power and torque to the front axle and the remaining to the rear. However, it is capable of transmitting as much as 85 per cent of the available torque to a single wheel in difficult terrains. There are five driving modes as well – Eco, Normal, Sport, Individual (which is configurable) and Snow.
Now, the Kodiaq in its standard guise is already a capable car with its intelligent 4x4 package. But in the Scout, you get an additional 'Off-Road' mode which can be used up to speeds of 30kmph. Select this mode and the electronics get busy adjusting every little detail like throttle response and damper settings depending on the terrain. Similarly, when the off-road mode is activated, you get additional information on the infotainment screen such as steering wheel angle, compass, altimeter, and an oil and coolant temperature gauge. Tailored specially for the Scout, the off-road mode can not only adjust engine characteristics, but also work around other driver assistance programme like ABS, EBD and stability control systems too.
Behind the wheel, there’s no difference felt in how the Scout is to drive compared to its other variants. It could tackle the fairly rutted and jagged surfaces with aplomb and could even climb over some bad ridges and crest with one wheel in the air without breaking a sweat. But, for some hardcore off-roading, the Scout might not be the ideal choice. Otherwise, what the Scout continues to be is an excellent road car. Similar to the standard version, the Scout feels refined while being effortless to drive. There is a strong bottom-end and mid-range grunt in this turbodiesel and it remains tractable and pulls extremely well between 2,000 and 4,000rpm, which is its sweet spot. It also continues to be impressive pottering around town even in stop and go traffic and has an excellent mile-munching capability on the highway.
Apart from that, the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic is quick and responsive and extremely smooth as well. And through corners, the Scout feels stable and predictable with its light steering. Moreover, there’s not much body roll when turned in or during quick direction changes thanks to the well-balanced suspension setup. Speaking of which, the suspension absorbs potholes and road joints pretty well and there’s not a lot of up and down movement on the big undulations either. But the low-speed ride is on a firmer side. Nonetheless, the Kodiaq Scout remains inspiring yet effortless to drive.
Being the most affordable variant of the Kodiaq line-up, it is a no brainer buying the Scout over the Style and L&K variant, especially when you consider that it is almost Rs 2.8 lakhs cheaper than the top-spec trim. What's more, with its long feature list, practical and quality cabin and the additional off-road credentials, the Scout adds more versatility to an already well-rounded product. That said, it won’t do serious off-roading like its ladder-on-frame rivals, but the Skoda Kodiaq Scout remains a fairly capable SUV when the roads start to disappear.
Pictures by Akash.