EXPLOIT THE UNCERTAINTY
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.