Skoda Kodiaq bares

all - in private

Skoda Kodiaq, Tour de France, side
Skoda Kodiaq, Tour de France, front
Skoda Kodiaq, Tour de France, front, action
Skoda Kodiaq, Tour de France, wrap preparation
Skoda Kodiaq, prototype, side
Skoda Kodiaq, prototype, front
Skoda Kodiaq, prototype, rear
Skoda Kodiaq, front, sketch
Skoda Kodiaq, rear, sketch

SO far, all the world has seen of Skoda's new seven-seat SUV is a heavily camouflaged model working as a support vehicle during the Tour de France cycle race - but we have just had the chance to get up close and personal with the all-new Kodiaq in the metal.

It doesn't go on sale in the UK until the first quarter of next year but first impressions are that the Kodiaq - named after the 3,500 brown bears that live on a remote island in the Kodiak archipelago off Alaska - will have a big impact.

It's Skoda's entry into the bigger SUV market, which is all the rage at the moment, and after an exclusive viewing at Skoda's main production centre in the Czech Republic I was impressed with it inside and out.

It has sleek lines which give it a sporty look with a sloping roofline, a front end with Skoda's new distinctive face featuring a wide grille, slender headlights and slightly flared wheel arches plus a clam-shaped bonnet.

The Kodiaq will have its world premiere in September and apart from its appearances in disguise during last month's cycle race and images of heavily camouflaged prototypes testing on the road the best clue to its looks have come from an artist's impression which is quite close to reality.

Our preview was carried out under high security with all cameras and imaging devices confiscated as a precaution.

At 4.70 metres long the new SUV, which will come as a five or seven-seater, offers the largest boot capacity in its class with up to 2,065 litres of room with all seats folded in the five-seater.

The adjustable rear seats come as standard and the backrests can be tilted as required. The optional couple of third row of seats will suit little ones or adults on a shorter journey.

I was also impressed with the amount of head and legroom available and seating both front and rear was supportive.

Skoda's "Simply Clever" programme comes into play in the new Kodiaq and includes plastic door-edge protection that deploys automatically to avoid damaging the vehicle in garages or car parks.

There's also an electric child safety lock for the youngest passengers as well as a sleep comfort package with special headrests for long trips plus an ice scraper in the petrol cap and umbrella slot in the doors.

Skodas are no longer the cheap option, and the build quality of the new Kodiaq bears this out, plus the Czech manufacturer probably offers more standard and optional gear than some of its competitors at a competitive price.

To assist drivers the Kodiaq offers a range of aids including adaptive cruise control, blind spot detection, parking control and braking function, city emergency brake system, electrically operated tailgate, full LED headlights as an option and LED tail lights as standard plus a heated steering wheel.

In this high tech world, where communication on the move is deemed standard, Skoda has put a lot of thought into the new SUV.

The new Kodiaq is well equipped when it comes to the intelligent pairing of car and smartphone.

A SmartLink platform, with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, MirrorLink and SmartGate, is optional for the entry-level Swing infotainment system.

SmartLink is astandard feature for more advanced infotainment systems. The Skoda Phonebox with inductive charging connects the smartphone to the roof aerial and charges it wirelessly.

The Kodiaq comes in two or four-wheel drive and although not an off-roader as such it has a reasonably high ground clearance and could be useful in adverse terrain and it has a towing capacity of 2.5 tonnes.

At the touch of a button, all the relevant systems - engine management, assistance systems, electronic chassis systems, such as ABS and ESC, as well as the suspension if combined with an optional dynamic chassis control system - automatically adjust to off-road conditions.

At launch there will be a choice of five engines: two diesels and three turbo petrtols.

The most powerful petrol engine, the 2.0-litre TSI petrol can kick out 180bhp but the biggest sellers will probably be the diesel TDI versions which come in at 2.0-litre 150 and 190bhp.

There will be a choice of six-speed manual or six-speed DSG automatics.

Skoda has yet to announce prices but the Kodiaq is likely to be around £22,000 for the entry level model.

Competition is fierce in the family-size SUV sector and the Kodiaq will be up against the likes of the Hyundai Santa Fe, Nissan X-Trail and VW Tiguan and others, but first impressions are that the new Skoda SUV should hold its own.

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