By Stewart Smith on 2016-11-20 - Stewart was the former motoring editor of the Coventry Telegraph and is now a freelance contributor to Eurekar. He is based in Scotland and specialises in First Drive reviews.
Skoda Kodiaq SUV set
to be a winner
A FEW months ago I was allowed a sneak preview of Skoda's first ever seven-seater SUV at the company's Czech Republic headquarters and was impressed with what I saw.
Now, after driving it, I'm even more impressed, and believe that the Kodiaq could be the outstanding motor in the expanding medium-size SUV sector.
Not only does it look impressive, but its on-road ability, generous equipment level and build quality is certain to appeal to those looking for a big family motor at a reasonable price.
The Kodiaq is ready to order and comes in four trim levels, five engine options, two and four-wheel-drive and a choice of manual or DSG auto gearboxes, so there's plenty of choice.
The entry level S trim Kodiaq comes with five seats, the SE offering has an option for seven seats at a cost of just £1,000 and the SE L trim and top range Edition model have seven seats as standard.
Space is one of the Kodiaq's biggest attractions and the seating arrangements can be changed to suit everyone's individual needs. The middle three seats can be slid forward to allow extra room for the two rear ones which I think are just suitable for children or a very short trip for adults.
Load space is cavernous if you fold all rears seats down giving 2,065 litres making it the largest boot in its class and if the optional folding front passenger seat is chosen, the SUV can transport items up to 2.80 metres long.
It also comes with an electrically operated tailgate as an option which can also be opened and closed using foot gesture command or a button in the interior. Kodiaq also offers an option where front seats can be heated, ventilated and adjusted electronically and with amemory function.
Skoda's "Simply Clever" features include door-edge protection which deploys automatically when opening the car door and prevents the metal edge of the door from coming into contact with a garage wall or an adjacent car. It also comes with an umbrella which fits into the driver's door and an ice scraper in the fuel filler flap.
Another innovation is a "sleep package" that includes two sleeping headrests and packaged blankets. The sleeping headrests can be folded out at the sides in order to prevent your head from leaning to one side. For the backrests of the front seats there are foldable tray tables.
Up front I found the driving position good with an excellent rear view and all the controls were easily reached plus comfortable and supportive seats.
As you'd expect the new Kodiaq comes with a host of high tech infotainment kit through Skoda Connect, which can be operated from a large screen controlling sat-nav, radio, telephone, breakdown assistance, parking information and much more.
Kodiaq launches in the UK with a choice of five engines - three petrol and two diesel. Power units range from 125bhp to 190bhp and you can choose between two or four-wheel-drive and manual or DSG transmissions. All engines feature stop-start system and brake energy recovery.
The petrol line-up consists of two 1.4 TSI enignes, one with an output of 125bhp and another with 150bhp and fitted with active cylinder technology which shuts down two cylinders when cruising which reduces furl consumption. The 150bhp Kodiaq can be bought with a manual 4x4 transmission, two-wheel drive DSG and 4x4 DSG.
The diesel offerings feature a pair of 2.0 TDI engines with outputs of 150bhp and 190bhp and the 150bhp comes as manual 4x4, two-wheel drive DSG and 4x4 DSG while the 190bhp unit is fitted with a seven-speed DSG 4x4 only.
Best economy comes from the 2.0-litre 150ps two-wheel drive diesel which is rated at 56.5mpg with emissions of 131g/km and on the petrol front the most economical is the 1.4-litre TSI which manages an offiical fuel return of 47.1mpg with a CO2 figure of 140g.km.
Although not an off-roader as such, the new Kodiaq can be useful in adverse weather conditions and on rough tracks. If fitted, the system can be switched on at the touch of a button and the engine management and brakes adjust, and on steep slopes the hill descent assist cuts in.
I enjoyed the experience behind the wheel on a long test route which took in motorways, city driving and some pretty demanding hilly roads with dozens of hairpin bends, which despite the Kodiaq's fair size, it coped well.
On the road it is very quiet with very little road, wind or engine noise and it would be an ideal motor for long distance travel.
Deliveries will start in the UK in April and prices start at £21,495 for the S 1.4 TSI manual and on up to £34,895 for the 2.0 TDI Edition.
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