Skoda Ko­diaq Am­bi­tion

The en­try level Ko­diaq shines par­tic­u­larly bright, opines Damien O’car­roll.

New Zealand Company Vehicle - - CONTENTS -

The Skoda Ko­diaq has been some­thing of a wake up call for man­u­fac­tur­ers who have a large SUV in their line-up (which is pretty much all of them) – you re­ally don’t need a mas­sive en­gine pow­er­ing them, just a pow­er­ful one. While the Mazda CX-9 im­presses in the seg­ment by get­ting a lot out of its 2.5-litre petrol en­gine when most of the op­po­si­tion have big diesels of petrol V6s, the Ko­diaq goes even fur­ther with a choice of ei­ther a 2.0-litre petrol or diesel in up­per spec mod­els, while the en­try level car comes with a com­par­a­tively tiny 1.4-litre in­line four­cylin­der petrol turbo. The Ko­diaq Am­bi­tion you see be­fore you is that very en­try level ve­hi­cle and packs that 110kw/250nm 1.4-litre en­gine, driv­ing the front wheels through a six-speed dual clutch trans­mis­sion. And it is that torque that is the key to Skoda get­ting the most out of the small en­gine, hit­ting its peak, as it does, at just 1,500rpm. The healthy chunk of torque plays a big part in the way the Ko­diaq drives, pow­er­ing it off the line with lit­tle ef­fort and even a lit­tle drama; if you are heavy-footed you can eas­ily evoke a sur­prised squawk from the front tyres. Ac­cel­er­a­tion is smooth and strong through­out the torque curve, which tops out at 3,500rpm, by which time the 110kw of power is ap­proach­ing its peak (5,000 to 6,000rpm), and the six-speed dual clutch trans­mis­sion is nim­ble and quick-wit­ted enough to keep the revs ex­actly where they need to be. There is the tra­di­tional down­side with the DSG trans­mis­sion, how­ever, and that is; while it is su­per slick and fast when you are up to speed, it they can get a bit con­fused and slug­gish at very low speeds, such as park­ing or tak­ing off from a stand­ing start. This, al­lied with the ever-present stop/ start func­tions of mod­ern VAG prod­uct, does trans­late into the oc­ca­sional slow re­sponse from a stand­ing start. Not ideal, but cer­tainly not down to any short­com­ing on the en­gine’s part. Min­i­mal body roll and fan­tas­ti­cally re­spon­sive steer­ing (although it doesn’t of­fer much in the way of feel) also help to make the Ko­diaq en­ter­tain­ing and sur­pris­ingly sat­is­fy­ing on a wind­ing back road, while its ride is deeply im­pres­sive as well – beau­ti­fully re­solved and su­perbly con­fi­dent in all con­di­tions, the Ko­diaq rides like a large ve­hi­cle, but han­dles like a far smaller one. Then you get to the price and that, along with the en­gine, is one of the Ko­diaq’s most im­pres­sive feats – the FWD Am­bi­tion costs just $39,990. And this isn’t a stripped out base model ei­ther, as the Am­bi­tion comes stan­dard with 18-inch al­loy wheels, LED head­lights, tail­lights, corner func­tion fog lights and day­time run­ning lights, elec­tric fold­ing and heated ex­te­rior mir­rors, half leather/ cloth up­hol­stery, a re­vers­ing cam­era, front and rear park­ing sen­sors, cli­mate con­trol air con­di­tion­ing, au­ton­o­mous emer­gency brak­ing, cruise con­trol, an elec­tric tail­gate, rain sens­ing wipers, a tyre pres­sure mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem, a 6.5-inch touch­screen in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem that in­cludes Ap­ple Carplay, An­droid Auto and Mir­rorlink and seven seats. Deeply im­pres­sive, re­mark­ably well equipped and damn hand­some to boot, the Skoda Ko­diaq shines par­tic­u­larly bright in its en­try level Am­bi­tion guise.

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