EX­PLOIT THE UN­CER­TAINTY

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - Cover Story -

the third-row seats each have a sep­a­rate tab. You’ll spend less time fum­bling with large items in the car park at Ikea et al.

For those car­ry­ing in­fants, there are two Isofix child seat mounts in the out­board po­si­tions of the mid­dle row, and three top tether points, so a non-Isofix child seat can be fit­ted in the cen­tre po­si­tion.

Mid­dle-row pas­sen­gers also get air vents, a 12V power socket and — here’s an idea to help keep kids quiet on long drives — there’s an ad­justable phone/ tablet mount­ing bracket on each front seat head­rest.

The third row seats are for kids only, as the floor is too high and the roof too low for adults on any­thing other than a trip around the block. There’s a 12V power source for the back row but no air­con­di­tion­ing vents. ON THE ROAD For now, the only en­gine is a 2.0-litre turbo (132kW/320Nm) matched to a seven-speed du­al­clutch auto and per­ma­nent all­wheel-drive. A 2.0-litre turbo diesel (140kW/400Nm) will fol­low later in the year.

The ex­am­ple we tested was equipped with a $5900 “launch pack” that in­cludes 19-inch al­loy wheels, adap­tive sus­pen­sion (with six set­tings), lane keep­ing, blind spot warn­ing, 360-de­gree cam­era, 10-speaker au­dio, rear cross-traf­fic alert, au­to­mat­i­cally folding side mir­rors and a foot­trig­gered mo­tion sen­sor to open the tail­gate, among its other mod-cons.

Add $700 for metal­lic paint and the price of the car tested is $49,950 plus on-roads, or about $53,000 drive-away. Elec­tri­cally ad­justable front seats are part of the $4900 “lux­ury pack”.

The Ko­diaq cabin is al­ready classier than what is par for the course in this price range. The stan­dard seats, with suede fab­ric, look sporty and fit snugly. The bulging, flat-bot­tomed steer­ing wheel could have come from a VW Golf GTI.

Per­for­mance from the en­gine is sur­pris­ingly perky, de­spite ask­ing a four-cylin­der to move 1.7-tonnes of metal.

The seven-speed lacks the stop-start stut­ter of ear­lier ex­am­ples be­cause it is the lat­est, wet clutch type. We’ll spare you the tech­ni­cal ex­pla­na­tion but in prac­tice there is less of a de­lay when mov­ing from rest and smoother tran­si­tion be­tween gears. Pad­dle-shifters would be a wel­come ad­di­tion but they’re not avail­able.

There are six driv­ing modes but we ex­per­i­mented mainly with com­fort, nor­mal and sport. The sus­pen­sion grad­u­ally gets stiffer, the steer­ing sharper and the en­gine and trans­mis­sion more re­spon­sive. In all modes, the sus­pen­sion ab­sorbed bumps well, though the nor­mal mode suf­fices for the daily grind.

Cor­ner­ing grip is im­pres­sive and road noise at free­way speeds was al­most eerily ab­sent.

The lane-keep­ing tech works OK when the cam­eras can clearly see the lane mark­ings but is only ef­fec­tive on straight sec­tions or gen­tle bends. A cou­ple of times it missed the mark­ings even though it gave us the green light. As the dis­claimer says, safety is al­ways the driver’s re­spon­si­bil­ity.

The radar cruise con­trol works well, though the stalk func­tions take some mas­ter­ing. AS the Skoda badge is rel­a­tively un­known, it has an un­cer­tain re­sale value — de­spite the re­cent (and wel­come) up­grade to a five-year/un­lim­ited km war­ranty. If you fi­nance the car through Skoda, the com­pany will buy it back at a guar­an­teed price but we’d ad­vise hag­gling hard up front and sell­ing be­fore the war­ranty ex­pires. The driver can ad­just it up or down in in­cre­ments of 1km/h or 10km/h in­cre­ments. VER­DICT The Ko­diaq is a fresh al­ter­na­tive in the over­crowded seven-seat SUV mar­ket. If it wore a VW badge, it would brain the com­pe­ti­tion.

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