Skoda’s transformation from oddball outsider to mainstream value brand takes a massive leap forward with the arrival of the seven-seat Kodiaq SUV, the first vehicle of its kind from the Czech brand.
Entering into a hotly-contested segment, and one that’s viewed as crucial to the company's success Down Under, the Kodiaq is pitched as a rival to the likes of the Hyundai Santa Fe, Mazda CX-9, and Toyota Kluger despite riding on a smaller platform - one that’s definitely at the large end of the medium SUV scale though.
Underneath the crisp sheet metal, the Kodiaq rides atop the same chassis as Volkswagen’s Tiguan, albeit the longer Tiguan Allspace which has yet to turn a wheel in Australia, with Skoda expediting the Kodiaq’s Australian arrival hot on the tail of its European introduction.
Vehicle Style: Medium SUV
Price: $42,990 plus on-road costs
Engine/trans: 132kW/320Nm 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo petrol | 7sp automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 7.6 l/100km
Skoda has kept the Kodiaq range as simple as possible for its local introduction. There’s just one model, the 132TSI which is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine producing 132kW and 320Nm linked to standard all-wheel drive via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.
Towards the end of 2017 Skoda is expected to add a 140TDI diesel model as well, but right now what you see is what you get.
Standard equipment levels are high, but it’s Skoda’s ‘Simply Clever’ features that impress the most - little touches like an LED torch in the boot, an umbrella concealed in each front door, rear sunshades, and tablet holders for second row seats. Simple, yes, but hard to find in competitor vehicles.
- Standard Equipment: leather and Alcantara seat trim, dual-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control, keyless entry and start, rear window sunshades, rear privacy glass, auto-dimming mirror, electric tailgate, LED ambient lighting, multi-function trip computer, 19-inch alloy wheels
- Infotainment: 8.0-inch touchscreen, satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, Bluetooth, CD player, AM/FM radio, USB and Aux inputs
- Cargo Volume: 270 litres minimum, 630 litres to window-line at second row, 2065 to roof at first row
With only one variant, Skoda has opted to go big with standard features, meaning you’ll find dual-zone climate control, a powered tailgate, leather and Alcantara-trimmed seats, power-folding mirrors, LED headlights, and 19-inch alloy wheels as standard.
If that’s not enough Skoda also offers bundled upgrades with the $2500 Teck Pack that adds adaptive chassis control, 10-speaker premium audio upgrade, hands-free tailgate operation, self-parking, rear automatic braking and an off-road mode.
If you’d rather a plusher interior, the $4900 Luxury Pack adds leather trim in black or beige, power adjustable front seats with memory, front and rear seat heating, ventilated front seats, three-zone climate control, surround-view cameras, blind spot monitoring, and rear traffic alert.
Interior presentation is excellent, centred around a clear 8.0-inch touchscreen display that’s simple to use and packed with satellite navigation, and Apple Carplay and Android Auto connectivity.
As for space, Skoda has been as generous as possible, creating a flexible interior with a sliding second row of seats to boost versatility and with no shortage in knee room and headroom.
Third row seats aren’t quite so generous. Access to the third row is complicated by a two-stage process of moving the second row seats out of the way (though not all the way clear) and once seated if second row occupants aren’t feeling forgiving rear legroom can be very limited. Third row air vents are also missing.
That makes the Kodaiq less of a permanent seven seater and more of a five seater with a pair of occasional use seats, perhaps not ideal for large families but fine for the occasional in-a-pinch carpool.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol four-cylinder, 132kW @6000rpm, 320Nm @1400-3940rpm
- Transmission: seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, all wheel drive
- Suspension: Macpherson strut front, multi-link independent rear
- Brakes: Four-wheel disc brakes, vented front, solid rear
- Steering: Electric power steering
- Towing Capacity: 2000kg braked, 750kg unbraked
Under the bonnet the Kodiaq runs a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, as used across the Volkswagen Group. With 132kW of power and 320Nm the outputsare more closely aligned with the Kodiaq’s medium SUV alumni than stronger engines from the large SUV class.
Although it’s hardly going to set any new acceleration benchmarks, the engine copes well with general duties, and steps-off from standstill smartly, shuffling through gears quickly and smoothly for a polished feel. Rolling acceleration feels less impressive though, lacking the sudden burst of speed required for confident overtaking.
As well as the engine's relative robustness, the Kodiaq’s all-wheel drive system has the ability to channel up to 85 percent of torque to a single wheel should the situation demand it.
Australia’s first shipment of cars feature a special Launch Edition package which includes both the Tech and Luxury packages meaning the cars we were introduced to all rode on adaptive chassis control, which includes adaptive dampers.
The system can be adjusted through Comfort, Normal, and Sport modes and makes a significant difference to the on-road feel of the Kodiaq, Sport mode doesn't always feel at home on some of Australia’s more neglected road surfaces, but Comfort better insulates occupants from bumps.
ANCAP Rating: 5 Stars - the Skoda Kodiaq scored the maximum available rating when tested in 2017.
Safety Features: Standard safety features include nine airbags including dual front, front and middle row side, driver’s knee and curtain airbags, electronic stability control and traction control, ABS brakes with brake assist, multi-collision braking, rearview camera, front and rear parkign sensors, tyre pressure monitoring, driver fatigue detection, and middle-row ISOFIX child seat mounting points.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Five years/unlimited kilometres
Servicing: Skoda offers capped price servicing at 12 month/15,000km intervals over six years or 90,000km (whichever comes first). Services are priced at $319, $404, $657, $993, $490 and $857 respectively.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Despite harbouring only modest sales expectations for the Kodiaq - partially due to initial supply constraints - it’s hard to see Skoda having anything but a success on its hands.
That said, it’s hard to see the Kodiaq posing a threat to larger SUVs like the Santa Fe and CX-9. Instead the ever-expanding medium SUV class, and its small (but growing) group of seven-seat competitors, seems likely to represent a new niche for the Kodiaq to feel right at home in.
With little in the way of on-road surprises (that’s a good thing), long-running warranty protection, and those handy Simply Clever touches, the Kodiaq should easily advance Skoda’s fortunes in Australia.
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