Looking for a solid family car that happens to be a blast to drive? The SKODA KODIAQ is just the ticket, mama!
We all know that having a car in Singapore comes with its challenges, but it’s undeniable that it makes life with kids a million times easier. And do you know what’s even better than having a car for day-to-day stuff like school drop-off and grocery store runs? Being able to hit the road for a family adventure!
Earlier this month my husband, daughter and I got to take the all-new, award-winning SKODA KODIAQ for a spin to visit Riders Lodge in Malaysia. Even when we hit some major traffic jams (guess we weren’t the only ones heading out for the weekend on a Saturday morning!), the KODIAQ was so spacious and comfortable we barely minded.
Named the 2018 Auto Express Large SUV of the Year, the KODIAQ actually drives with quite a bit of zip and agility. It can comfortably seat seven (we folded the back row down to store our luggage), and in fact has the largest boot space of any car in its class. The price tag comes with far less sticker shock than what you’d expect in Singapore, but more on that later.
The KODIAQ is loaded with fun, useful features that are part of ŠKODA’s ‘simply clever’ philosophy; the best was the wireless phone charging box (just place your phone down on the rubber panel and the battery gets more juice!), which really came in handy when we got stuck in the aforementioned traffic jam. Other neat features include a “virtual pedal” so you can open the rear door hands-free; a double glove box that includes a chilled compartment (perfect for keeping drinks cold, or chocolate from melting!); and handy umbrella storage compartments in each front door to keep the car interior dry (sooo key when you live in a place with frequent downpours!).
Two other features we really enjoyed on the rustic drive to Riders Lodge were the panoramic sunroof (“I feel like we’re riding in a spaceship!”, Maggie declared) and Off-road mode, which you can switch to with the push of a button. Though Riders Lodge is just a bit past Johor Bahru and the Malaysian border, the resort is at the end of a dirt road, which was quite fun to drive on with the KODIAQ!
So yes, Riders Lodge. If your child has ever asked to ride a pony, THIS is the place to do it! With 30 happy, well-trained (and well looked after) horses, Riders Lodge is a rustic countryside retreat that feels a million miles away from Singapore (yet it’s only about 90 minutes without traffic!).
The lodge offers 25 clean, comfortable, basic rooms within its stately main building, and provides a warm and welcoming atmosphere thanks to the kind couple who own it and the very sweet staff. It’s the kind of place where the person who checks you in also serves you your lunch, then helps you find a pair of riding boots (which were provided in addition to helmets).
Children as young as 2 can take pony rides through the jungle (Maggie, 4, did this and LOVED it), while kiddos from the age of 5 can take lessons with one of the pros on staff. The lodge also offers multi-day packages and weeklong riding camps (it’s a big hit with many Singapore international schools). Since I hadn’t really been on a horse since I was 12, I also took a lesson, and would have done a 90-minute trail ride as well if I hadn’t fallen asleep to take a relaxing afternoon nap!
The bucolic setting of Riders Lodge is one of its biggest selling points, with rolling green lawns, jungle walking trails, and all manner of birds and wildlife. We ate all our meals on the breezy patio overlooking the lawn – where Maggie joined in with kids of all ages to chase around a soccer ball – and after dinner took a lovely and relaxing stroll amidst the palm tree plantations while the sun slowly dipped below the trees. We also stopped by the stables, where Maggie said goodnight to her new pony friend, Pipsqueak! If you’re after fresh air, and want to give your kids a bit of space to run around, this is a fab place to do it, mama.
In addition to horseback riding, the Legends complex also includes an 18-hole Jack Nicklaus-designed championship golf course (this was how I convinced my husband to come along!). He was not disappointed: for about $40 (including a golf cart), he practically had the course to himself in the afternoon.
Horseback riding and golf are definitely the two main attractions; the lodge pool is tiny and best suited for a refreshing dip, though there is a larger pool next door at the golf club. Massage is available but there’s not a spa, perse. Also be mindful that there is only one restaurant – the on-site Agnes’s – although we were quite pleased with the variety of tasty menu options (with everything from local specialties like Rendang and curry, to pasta with fresh veggies, to Aussie steaks and kid options like hot dogs). At breakfast we had toast and waffles with fresh jam made from Cameron Highlands strawberries.
Worn out by a day of various outdoor pursuits, we all turned in early and got a restful and restorative night’s sleep (Maggie slept in for, like, the first time ever. We actually had to wake her up because it was time to check out and hit the road!). We stayed in a spacious Manor Suite, which had enough room for a king bed and three rollaway cots, along with 1 ½ bathrooms. It is a great option for families and could comfortably sleep two parents and three kids.
We made it back to Singapore in under 90 minutes, blasting tunes on the 10-speaker sound system all the way. We spent the rest of our leisurely Sunday zipping around town running errands, during which point the KODIAQ’s Park Assist and Front Assist features really came in handy! Other cool safety features include 9 airbags, Rear Traffic Alert and Blind Spot Detect (which are great when you’re on the highway, or driving in a place like Singapore where many drivers seem to regard lanes as merely suggestive!), and even Driver Alert – which detects signs of fatigue and can prompt a driver to take a break. All this adds up to a five-star safety rating (the highest possible) from Euro NCAP.
Come Monday morning, we were all quite sad to bid adieu to the KODIAQ. Having spent nearly six weeks back home in the U.S. this summer where I drove three different SUV rentals, I can confidently say the KODIAQ compared favorably to all of them. Spacious and comfortable – but never unwieldy, which I think would be a problem with some big cars here in Singapore – it was a pleasure to drive and has heaps of useful and intuitive features you don’t see every day.
Available with either a 2.0-litre or 1.4-litre engine, KODIAQ pricing starts from $134,400, offering great value compared to other cars in its class. Be sure to visit the showroom at 26 Leng Kee Road in Alexandra to find out about some very tantalising promotions, mama…
Good to Know:
- When you drive to Malaysia, bring your passports and enough Ringgit to purchase a Touch ‘n’ Go card (their version of an IU cash card) before the border checkpoint (you’ll see people jumping out of their cars to purchase the cards at a little electronic kiosk).
- It costs MYR20 (about S$6.70) to cross the border into Malaysia, and you’ll pay roughly another MYR 15-20 in tolls en route to Riders Lodge. I’d recommend putting MYR100 on the card just to be safe. You’ll also pay between $1-$2.50 in tolls when departing Singapore.
- Riders Lodge offers a variety of packages and rates including full-board and riding sessions, but prices vary depending on length of stay and day of the week (not surprisingly weekends are very busy). Riding lessons start from MYR78 (S$26) for a 30-minute children’s groom-led trail ride, and MYR 188 (S$63) for an hour-long riding lesson or jungle trail ride.
- Riders Lodge provides riding boots and helmets. Make sure to bring long pants or leggings for riding.
Riders Lodge, Legends Golf and Country Resort, Lot 1302 Kebun Sedenak, 81000 Kulai, Johor, Malaysia, Tel: (+60) 7652 5330, www.riderslodge.com.my
ŠKODA Singapore, 26 Leng Kee Road, Singapore 159104, www.skoda.sg