- Apprentices convert SUV into working pickup
- We test its 190hp turbo petrol power, off-road suspension
- Mods include reinforced load area, winch – and 2,000W hifi
Skoda’s new Mountiaq pickup truck is quite special. Unfortunately, it’s not a production model, but has been built by the brand’s latest crop of engineering students at its Vocational School in Mlada Boleslav in the Czech Republic. We got the opportunity to drive this beastly one-off in Prague, and implore Skoda build it for real.
Read on to find out what it’s like to get behind the wheel of this unique, Skoda Kodiaq-based pickup.
What is the Skoda Mountiaq?
Before you get ahead of yourself, you won’t be able to buy this Skoda pickup for love nor money. It’s the end result of a student project that apprentices at Skoda’s Vocational School get to take part in.
As such, the Mountiaq is a single-cab pickup based on the seven-seat Skoda Kodiaq SUV and modified over the course of eight months of 35 students' lives, taking around 2,000 hours.
How is the Mountiaq different to a Kodiaq?
The students cut the rear half of the roof off, reinforced the newly formed load bay and added some muscular off-roading credentials in the shape of a bull bar with winch and accompanying roll bar, 17-inch wheels with 3D-printed caps and fat off-road tyres. The wheel track has been widened to fit them, which meant widening the wheelarches, too.
An off-road suspension setup complements this, and sees the Mountiaq sits 10cm taller than the Skoda Kodiaq Scout – the tallest of the firm’s production SUVs. There’s also a snorkel air intake, specifically mixed ‘Sunset Orange’ paint, and more LED lights than you can shake a stick at.
What’s the Skoda Mountiaq’s interior like?
It’s all pretty familiar inside; the students haven’t changed anything in terms of the layout of the dashboard. Your only real difference is that there’s a vertical piece of glass around 10cm behind the front seats – the only ones that remains – and some orange trim on the steering wheel and gear shifter.
The seats have been tastefully upholstered in black and orange leather, with the group of students even creating a logo for the Mountiaq and embroidering it just below the headrests.
Look up and you’ll see a Skoda badge in blue LEDs in the headliner and there’s a thumping 2,000W amp and subwoofer sat just behind the two seats. We can confirm that this really, really works.
What powers the Skoda Mountiaq?
The Mountiaq uses a 190hp 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine linked to a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox and all-wheel drive. Sounds like a good start.
But despite having passenger space for five fewer people than a conventional version of this Skoda SUV, the modifications mean the Mountiaq weighs in at almost 2.5 tonnes, some 700kg heavier than your average diesel-powered Kodiaq.
Basically, this means that the Mountiaq is not very quick. Performance figures haven’t been ratified, especially since it’s a one-off, but the additional weight has certainly blunted the acceleration performance. During our experience of the Mountiaq, however, we didn’t really see issue with that, as it replaces outright punch with some very entertaining noises.
Aside from the whopping sound system, a new exhaust system has been fitted to make the petrol engine burble at tickover and give it a bassy grunt when accelerating. The biggest aural difference, though, comes from the pillar-mounted snorkel, which naturally amplifies the sound of the turbocharger to grin-widening effect.
Under hard throttle, there are significant whooshing noises from the intake, which then transform into loud musical flutters from the turbo when you lift off the throttle. We won’t beat around the bush: it’s very funny.
How does the Skoda Mountiaq handle?
Large soft tyres and longer travel from the taller suspension means the ride is very plush, with little unsettling the Mountiaq even at speed. Still, those wider tyres translate into less communication from the steering wheel – it’s quite a bit vaguer to steer than your average Kodiaq.
The softer spring setup also means body roll under hard cornering was quite significant and, even though the wheelarches had been widened to fit the tyres, there was still a little rubbing as the car knelt into corners.
Are you sure I can’t buy one?
You can’t. But this is a very strong case for wanting what you can’t have. It’s almost as if the Kodiaq’s platform and chassis is innately ready for a pickup model.
Regardless of whether you can or can’t actually have one, the Mountiaq is tremendous fun to drive because it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s not all that fast and a little wobblier to drive than a standard Kodiaq but your smile never leaves your face when at the wheel. The 35 students from Skoda’s Vocational School have done themselves proud.