Kodiaq - Skoda's

bear necessity

Skoda Kodiaq, 2016, front
Skoda Kodiaq, 2016, side
Skoda Kodiaq, 2016, rear
Skoda Kodiaq, 2016, interior
Skoda Kodiaq, 2016, display screen
Skoda Kodiaq, 2016, middle row seats
Skoda Kodiaq, 2016, third row seats
Skoda Kodiaq, 2016, boot
Skoda Kodiaq, 2016, badge

IF you don't have an encyclopaedic knowledge of geography or an interest in bears you will probably never have heard of Kodiak - but you soon will.

For Skoda has just launched its dynamic new Kodiaq seven-seater SUV to the world, and it's expecting great things from it.

The car carries the same name as the remote Kodiak island in the Gulf of Alaska - although it's spelled with a q rather than a k at the end - where there is a population of almost 15,000 people and famously 3,500 Kodiak bears.

There is no real connection although local residents are said to be chuffed that the name of their island will soon be on the lips of people all around the globe thanks to Skoda.

And having seen the new car when it was unveiled to the world for the first time in Berlin it's "bearely" believeable that it won't be a success for the Czech car maker.

In fact 25,000 people registered their interest in the new car without even seeing it, and the revelation that prices in the UK are expected to start at less than £24,000 for the entry-level S model should see that number escalate quickly.

Firm orders for the newcomer will be taken from January onwards with the first cars going into showrooms from late March/early April and Skoda has already dropped some strong hints that there will be more SUV models to come.

The Kodiaq will feature the best the brand has to offer in terms of both quality and innovation and will join Skoda's Superb model as joint flagships for the marque.

The Kodiaq is classed as a compact vehicle but in true Skoda fashion the company has managed to stretch things so that this compact has very generous proportions indeed.

In fact it's 4.7 metres long - 40mm longer than the Skoda Octavia - 1.9 metres wide, has the largest boot in its class with 2,065 litres of space and will be available as either a seven-seater with three rows of seats or - for the entry level models - a five-seater.

Five engines will be on offer in the UK, three petrol and two diesels, and there will be a choice of four or two-wheel-drive.

The best seller in Britain is expected to be the 2.0-litre, 150bhp, 56mpg (131g/km) model, although Skoda anticipates that - like the Superb - the biggest demand will be for the higher spec SE and SEL models.

The alternative, top-of-the-range diesel delivers 190 bhp, has a top speed of 130 miles per hour and will accelerate from 0-62 mph in just 8.6 seconds. Options available include six-speed manual and six and seven-speed DSG automatic gearboxes.

The three petrol engines on offer are two 1.4-litre models (125bhp and 150bhp) and a 2.0-litre, 180 bhp version.

With its tall stance, clamshell-style bonnet and two double crystalline headlights inspired by traditional Czech crystal glass art the Kodiaq certainly stands out in the crowd.

The brand prides itself on it "Simply Clever" features and on the Kodiaq these include plastic door edge protectors which spring out as you open the doors to protect the edges from being damaged, as well as the obligatory Skoda umbrella in one of the front doors and the ice scraper behind the fuel filler flap.

Also new are wide-angle surround-view cameras located at the front and rear as well as in the wing mirrors so that the area around the car can be displayed on the dashboard touch screenAnd with this car you have permanent access to the Internet as it's a wi-fi hotspot.

For buyers who find towing a trailer a problem the new car offers Trailer Assist, which automatically does the hard work for you when you are reversing by taking over the steering.

Skoda's first ever seven-seater has packed a lot into one package and buyers will be spoiled for choice when it comes to ordering optional features.

They will probably tell dealers they can't "bear" to be without any of them.

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