THEY'RE rare beasts these days - but it's difficult to ignore the merits of a decent diesel and remarkably easy to see how these oil-burners gained a strong grip on the market.
Particularly understandable is their attraction when propelling a heavy SUV. With oodles of torque the diesel engine will make light work of towing, squeeze extra miles from every gallon and cruise happily all day long at relatively low revs.
All these qualities became apparent when we sampled a Skoda Kodiaq 2.0 TDI. For those unfamiliar with the Czech maker's largest high-rider, it's a handsome seven-seater that borrows much of its bits from the VW Group parts bin and combines commodious passenger and boot space with an ease of driving that's not common to all its rivals.
Ours was in Sportline trim which means it gets a racy set of rubber to run on, blacked-up exterior trim and a sports steering wheel plus luxurious Alcantara covered seating.
The 2.0-litre turbo engine knocks out a punchy 197bhp which translates into a pretty sprightly performance for a large SUV.
Its lines and contours are easy on the eye, and trick you into thinking it's not as large as it actually is. Passenger room is generous both front and back, but even more impressive is the luggage room. With five seats in pace, this amounts to a cavernous 765litres.
Even in seven-seater form, it carries almost 300litres of cargo. The rear seats split, fold and slide individually. With all seats folded, there's more than 2,000litres of luggage room.
The interior design is solid and smart without being particularly stylish - maybe the bosses at the VW Group are anxious that the Kodiaq doesn't trespass on Audi territory.
As for driving, it's one those large cars that have an ability to shrink around the driver. All the controls and steering are pleasantly light but have an acceptable amount of tactile feel to them.
Particularly likeable is the seven-speed dual clutch automatic gearbox which mates well with the gutsy diesel engine. Against the clock, the Kodiaq hits sixty in less than eight seconds and feels sprightly and eager to respond.
While it's not the sort of car that you want chuck around bends, especially with a full family load on board, it nevertheless clings nicely to the road and handles in a vice-free fashion. Intelligent four-wheel-drive allows you to venture onto the green stuff without fear, but it doesn't attempt to have the exploring qualities of a Land Rover.
The big 20-inch alloys - standard on the Sportline - are shod with relatively low profile tyres. The result is a stiffer less compliant ride than many SUV buyers may prefer.
Despite the punchy performance, it will easily crack the 40mpg mark - our average was 42mpg over 500-miles.