The Skoda Kodiaq could be the car to change perceptions about the brand, thrusting it into the mainstream thanks to its blend of clever standard features, right-size dimensions, and appealing drivability.
Australian buyers won’t be introduced to the seven-seat Kodiaq until July 2017, but before the family-friendly SUV arrives in Australia - and even before Skoda Australia has had chance to lock-in final specification - we’ve driven it at its global launch in Majorca, Spain.
Vehicle Style: Large SUV
Price: To Be Confirmed
Engine/trans: 132kW/320Nm 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo petrol | 7sp automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 7.3 l/100km | Tested: 7.1 l/100km
As it has done with the Octavia range, Skoda has designed the Kodiaq as a segment straddler, positioned between traditional medium and large SUVs as a ‘right-size’ solution for mobile, urban families.
While there’s seven seats inside, the 4.7 metre long Kodiaq is just 4 centimetres longer than an Octavia and 16 cm shorter than a Superb, yet on the inside Skoda claims interior space exceeds that of the Hyundai Santa Fe, while boot space is a segment-best 270 litres with all three rows in place.
Pricing and specifications are still being worked out for the Australian market, but our introduction to the Kodiaq was a promising one and early indications suggest that Skoda is very likely to have a hit on its hands when the Kodiaq finally arrives around the middle of next year.
- Available Equipment: Cloth seat trim or leather seat trim with electric adjustment, three-zone climate control, electric rear-door child locks, in-door umbrella holders, tray tables on front seatbacks, rear seat tablet holder, rear door sunblinds, 230v power socket, wireless inductive phone charging, (Based in European specifications, Australian delivered vehicles may vary)
- Infotainment: 8.0 inch touchscreen, satellite navigation, up to ten-speaker audio, USB input, Bluetooth connectivity
- Cargo Volume: 270 litres behind third row, 560-765 litres behind second row, 2005 litres maximum
One of the guiding design principles for the Kodak was to prioritise space, and stepping into the cabin reveals how successful the design team was. Though it has a beefy but slightly compact look from the outside, the interior of the Kodiaq is properly spacious.
From the front seats there’s room to move in every direction, with a nice commanding driving position, and a dashboard design that’s logical and simple to decipher - following in the footsteps of the rest of the Skoda range.
The middle row can slide fore and aft and has in individually reclining seatbacks, allowing passengers to tailor comfort to their requirements, while the cars we tested also featured leather trim, rear window sun blinds, and three-zone climate control.
Innovative ‘comfort’ headrests which are likely to find their way onto the options list are also handy and provide a flip-forward travel pillow of sorts to allow rear passengers a more comfortable snooze on the go. Euro delivered cars also come with a rear tray table option which parents should find invaluable if offered in Australia.
Something else sure to impress is Skoda’s door-edge protection which sees a small plastic strip appear from behind a closed door and rest itself against the outside edge to offer some protection against accidental strikes. It’s a neat and innovative feature that supermarket car-parkers are bound to appreciate.
Row three is a little smaller than what you’d find in a traditional seven-seater like a Mazda CX-9 or Toyota Kluger, with a lack of width the most obvious pinch-point. But if occupants in the second row are happy to slide forward a little then legroom is more than generous in the rear, though a lack of third row air vents is a missing piece of the puzzle.
Boot space measures 270 litres behind the third row seats and between 560 and 765 litres (depending on the position of the second row) when used as a five-seater with 2005 litres in total with all seats stowed. Not only is the boot huge, it is smart with a removable torch, stowage for the cargo blind and a powered tailgate that can be opened and closed (still a rare inclusion) from inside the car.
From launch, the Kodiaq range will come with an 8.0-inch infotainment system, though down the track this will be replaced by the 9.2-inch system recently announced on the updated Volkswagen Golf.
Australia’s standard seven-seat specification also means there’s only room for a space-saver spare tyre. One specification will be offered, but as with other vehicles in the range option packs will allow owners to equip a vehicle to their needs with things like a Comfort pack or Tech pack, which shouldn’t be too different from what’s available on the Superb range.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 132kW/320Nm 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol
- Transmission: Seven-speed dual clutch automatic, all wheel drive
- Suspension: McPherson strut from, multi-link rear
- Brakes: Ventilated front discs, solid rear discs
- Steering: Electrically assisted power steering, 11.6m turning circle
- Towing Capacity: 2200kg braked, 750kg unbraked
Australian delivered Kodiaqs will arrive first with a 132TSI petrol engine and later followed by a 140TDI diesel, both of which will be paired with all wheel drive (badged as 4x4) and a seven-speed dual clutch automatic as standard. We had the opportunity to drive both petrol and diesel, though the 110TDI diesel we sampled won’t be the car that Aussie customers get, with a more powerful 140TDI arriving instead.
The 132TSI provides 132kw and 320Nm, and though it may not seem like a massive power output compared to the 170kW and 420Nm of something like a Mazda CX-9 it certainly feels stronger than those figures suggest thanks to the Kodiaq’s lower weight.
Although with only a driver and passenger on board it’s hard to surmise how it will feel with a car full of people, but giving the throttle a squeeze delivered promising acceleration, and while it’s no rocket (does a seven-seat SUV need to be?) the 132TSI engine builds speed eagerly.
Jumping across to the 110TDI showed high levels of refinement, with minimal noise or vibration from inside the cabin, and a deep well of torque to tap into, the suggesting that the Aus-bound 140TDI with extra power and torque (140kW and 400Nm in fact) is probably the right choice for owners looking to tow, with a 2500kg rating for the diesel compared to a 2200kg limit for the petrol.
Final judgement of the suspension tune will be best left for local roads, but early indications over the mostly smooth but occasionally lumpy Spanish tarmac suggest that the comfort-biased ride looks to be a little softer than what Skoda offers in its passenger car range making it just right for family duty.
Skoda also went to great pains to stress that the pre-production cars we drove, though almost complete, still had some fine-tuning to come, particularly when questioned about the finger-light steering system.
If it stays the way it is the Kodiaq steers nicely for navigating school driveways and supermarket carparks, but the over-assisted feeling may not be confidence inspiring on rural roads, even if it does have good on-centre stability.
One handy feature worth pointing out is Skoda's Trailer Assist, which has just taken all the guesswork out of towing by taking over the steering when reversing a trailer, and allows simple toggle controls via the mirror switch to guide a trailer into position, or lock it into a straight line leaving the driver to concentrate on the vehicle surroundings while operating the brake and accelerator.
Safety Features: Standard safety feature will include stability and traction control, Autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, rear view camera and a minimum of seven airbags (dual front, front side, full length curtain, and driver’s knee), with a 360 degree camera and nine-airbags (adding to to the outboard seats in row two), lane keep assist, and adaptive cruise control likely to be available as options.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
Mazda has really impressed with the CX-9 range, mixing a near-premium feel with a well conceived interior and powered by a turbocharged petrol engine that feels every bit as strong as a diesel, but without the noise or vibrations.
The Hyundai Santa Fe may not be the freshest SUV available, but it comes well equipped, offers a decent array of engines and trim levels, and on-road manners well suited to Australian conditions.
With a surprising upmarket presentation and a big roomy interior the Kia Sorento makes a compelling first impression, and continues to deliver out on the open road. A mechanical package similar to the Santa Fe, and high levels of refinement for both petrol and diesel models certainly help.
Toyota’s perennial favourite, the Kluger is a slightly bigger beast, and the interior really plays-up the practicality angle with a dashboard design that’s almost entirely dedicated to storing the odds and ends that families are bound to have on-board, with a relatively thirsty V6 engine dulling the appeal for some buyers.
Like the Kodiaq, the Mitsubishi Outlander aims to sneak in between medium SUVs and large SUVs with available seating for seven and a compact footprint making it a better fit for use in town. Though it may not have the fresh feeling of some newer competitors, Mitsubishi’s sharp pricing makes it a great-value proposition.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Initial impressions indicate that Skoda has hit the nail on the head when it comes to delivering an SUV that isn’t too big or cumbersome, but still frugal to run, and most importantly flexible on the inside.
Estimated pricing should see the Koqiaq positioned just above the Superb range, indicating a starting point somewhere just above the $45,000 mark. At that price the Kodiaq plays right into the heart of Santa Fe and CX-9 pricing.
With Skoda’s ‘simply clever’ mantra ringing true - thanks to small touches like the door-edge protection, in-door umbrella holders and others littered throughout the interior - the Kodiaq is a more versatile, and family focussed SUV that goes beyond being mere transport.
And with that in mind the Kodiaq should be easily able to charm Australian families when it touches down here in July, where TMR will take a deeper look at the Australian specification vehicles when they arrive.
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