The Kodiak is belated acknowledgement from Skoda that buyers want to buy SUVs more than sedans, hatches or wagons. Under the surface it is closely related to both the Skoda Octavia and Superb and has been tuned for on-road behaviour rather than trips to the wilderness. Initially only a 132kW 2.0 TSI petrol engine will be available, but Skoda hopes to bring a 140kW 2.0 TDI diesel within a year of sales starting.
The Kodiaq will go on sale in Australia in mid 2017, with a high level of standard spec including all-wheel drive, pop-up third row seating and twin-clutch automatic transmission. Prices haven’t been confirmed.
- Comfort: The Kodiaq is a great place to spend time, riding impressively well even over broken surfaces and with excellent refinement at higher speeds.
- The 2.0 TSI petrol engine that will be available from launch pulls hard when asked to do so and has more than enough torque for effortless cruising. The 2.0 TDI diesel that will follow later should deliver impressive fuel economy – Skoda claims 5.7litres/ 100km on the EUDC European test.
- Safety kit: As you’d expect for such a family focussed car, Skoda hasn’t stinted with the active safety and driver assistance systems. The company claims no fewer than 24 are available, from standard autonomous emergency braking, which will work at up to 34km/h to stop a collision, to an optional 360-degree camera system to make low-speed manoeuvring easier.
- The third row seats work well, being easy to deploy and store. They’re only designed for part-time use, and getting into them past the second row is a bit of a scramble, but there’s enough room back there for even bigger kids. The second row seats can be both slide and reclined, and also fold 40:20:40, meaning it’s possible to accommodate both long loads and passengers at the same time.
- Equipment: Although Australian spec is yet to be finalised, we’re promised that equipment levels will be keen. The range-topping “Columbus” navigation and entertainment system is particularly impressive, featuring an 8-inch touch-sensitive glass screen and Google mapping.
- Skoda claims a towing capacity of up to 2.5 tonnes and also offers a “tow assist” system which can take over steering when manoeuvring a trailer in reverse.
- The Skoda Kodiaq is a heavy car, and it feels it. On Skoda’s numbers the TSI is 1738kg with a driver and the TDI is 1795kg. Although handling is secure and accurate there’s not much enthusiasm for faster progress. That weight also makes its presence felt when it comes to acceleration, which is no more than adequate with either engine. We should be glad that Skoda has no plans to bring any of the lesser-powered versions that will be offered in other markets here.
- There are no ISOFIX mountings for the third row seats, meaning that unlike some rivals you can’t put a child seat in there.
- Styling is likely to split opinion as well. Skoda says the car’s styling has been inspired by Czech cut glass – it looked more origami to us. From some angles it works well, but from others it looks big and inelegant.
- We didn’t like the black trim in the cabin of the car we drove, which was plastic pretending to be wood.
ANY RIVALS SHOULD CONSIDER?
Skoda hasn’t released pricing for the Kodiaq yet, limiting our ability to know where in the market it will go, but it has told us it will only be offering cars with generous standard equipment, with all-wheel drive, seven seats and a DSG twin-clutch gearbox being standard in Australia.
Its toughest competitor looks set to be the Mazda CX-9, which can be had in entry-trim AWD form for $46,490, and which has more power and a more easily accessed third row. Other seven-seat alternatives include the Hyundai Santa Fe, which is $43,990 for the Active CRDi diesel automatic, the Kia Sorento, which is $45,990 in mid-spec SLi trim with a more powerful petrol V6 and – of course – the Toyota Kluger, although you’ll need to find $46,190 to get into the cheapest all-wheel drive version.