Skoda Kodiaq SE L

1.4 TSI 150ps DSG

Skoda Kodiaq, dynamic
Skoda Kodiaq, profile
Skoda Kodiaq, front quarter
Skoda Kodiaq, rear quarter
Skoda Kodiaq, interior
Skoda Kodiaq, boot
Skoda Kodiaq, boot seats
Skoda Kodiaq, interior rear

THERE'S now a whole generation who have probably never heard a Skoda joke - and it's unlikely they ever will because the Czech firm just doesn't make poor cars anymore.

The latest case in point is the Kodiaq, the marque's first real foray into the increasingly congested SUV market and the first time that a Skoda has ever been available with seven seats.

This newcomer has only been on sale since March but has already been crowned Best Large SUV by both Auto Express and What Car? magazines at glitzy annual awards bashes.

It's also a major driver behind Skoda's latest global sales figures, which showed a healthy increase of 6.7 percent year-on-year for August.

Incorporating the brand's familiar clean, sharp lines into fashionable muscular SUV styling, the Kodiaq cuts an imposing figure - just like the Alaskan bear it is named after, albeit spelt differently.

It's not so big that it feels unwieldy to drive, however, and, despite its size, handles tidily. Body roll is well controlled while a supple suspension keeps the ride settled and comfortable.

The turbocharged 150ps, 1.4 litre petrol engine in this car, mated to a smooth six-speed manual transmission, proved refreshingly punchy, having no trouble shifting the Kodiaq with our family of four and a modest load on board.

It also boasted smart technology which automatically senses when less power is needed and switches from four to two cylinders to reduce fuel consumption.

The interior has a plush and classy, but at the same time durable, feel and has comfortable space for five adults plus that option, depending on model, of the two extra seats.

These come as standard in the mid-range SE L car I drove and, although really only suitable for kids, do add the versatility that many large families often need - when ferrying friends to school or taking the grandparents out for the day, for instance.

Indeed, a ringing endorsement of the Kodiaq's family-friendly credentials came when my kids, aged 12 and 13, both felt it necessary, totally unprompted, to proffer their seal of approval shortly after climbing in.

My wife was also fulsome in her praise, despite being initially flummoxed by the double glove box arrangement - repeatedly opening the top compartment when trying to get into the bottom one to insert a CD!

This extra storage space is just one of many practical features that Skoda are increasingly known for.

A clip on the windscreen to hold parking tickets and an umbrella stowed in the door panel are things we've already seen but a fascinating new addition are the door-edge protectors.

These spring into place automatically when opening any door to prevent the edge from clattering against a wall or adjacent car, and then fold back in again when closing it, preventing chips and scratches to your own as well as neighbouring vehicles.

Skoda calls this sort of thing ‘Simply Clever' but if it were that simple somebody would have done it already. It's pure genius, and prompted much wonderment among the Gibson clan.

On top of these thoughtful touches the Kodiaq comes well equipped, with all cars getting alloy wheels, air-conditioning, digital radio, touchscreen infotainment system with smartphone connectivity, keyless entry and ignition and automatic emergency braking.

Stepping up to SE L trim adds such niceties as a bigger touchscreen, satnav, cruise control, Alcantara upholstery, heated front seats and a powered tailgate.

As a footnote, the Kodiaq's trophy haul continued to grow last month when it was named Towcar of the Year by the Caravan and Motorhome Club.

FAST FACTS

Skoda Kodiaq SE L 1.4 TSI 150ps DSG

Price: £28,650

Mechanical:150ps, 1,395cc petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed automatic transmission

Max Speed:122mph

0-62mph: 9.7 seconds

Combined MPG: 44.8

Insurance Group:16

C02 emissions:143g/km

Bik rating: 25%

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