SKODA’S LARGE SUV IS A CRACKER

The Skoda Kodiaq is the first large SUV to be pro­duced by the Czech man­u­fac­turer. Jack Evans gets be­hind the wheel to see if it’s any good.

Belfast Telegraph - NI Carfinder - - Front Page - BY JACK EVANS

WHAT’S NEW?

This is a huge car for Skoda. Tap­ping into the ever-flour­ish­ing SUV mar­ket, the Kodiaq aims to give con­sumers a large, spa­cious and com­fort­able ve­hi­cle – but for a much lower price than those found with more pre­mium ri­vals. Equipped with one of three en­gines – a 1.4-litre petrol, 2.0-litre petrol or 2.0-litre diesel – the Kodiaq is aiming squarely at larger fam­i­lies who still want to keep run­ning costs low.

That means that even base-spec­i­fi­ca­tion cars get a huge amount of stan­dard equip­ment, while buy­ers of higher-grade mod­els won’t feel short­changed ei­ther, given the in­crease in the amount of tech on pricier ver­sions.

This is a com­pletely new seg­ment for Skoda, and shows a lot of in­tent from the Czech brand. Well-known now for mak­ing re­li­able and well-priced cars, the Kodiaq comes as an ex­ten­sion of that ethos. With the de­cline of MPV and rise of SUV, the Kodiaq is a nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion for the com­pany – but it has to get it right first time if it hopes to suc­ceed.

LOOKS AND IM­AGE

We think Skoda has hit the nail on the head with the Kodiaq. It looks pur­pose- ful enough, but not too in­tim­i­dat­ing. The brand is do­ing well to shake off the ‘ bor­ing’ im­age it was as­so­ci­ated with for many years, with the Kodiaq help­ing this en­deav­our. Even base-spec­i­fi­ca­tion cars ride on 17-inch al­loy wheels, while top-of-the-range ‘Edi­tion’ cars are fit­ted with large 19-inch­ers. Ev­ery­thing about the car feels solid and well put to­gether – though there’s no mis­tak­ing that the Kodiaq is a Volk­swa­gen group car, with plenty of tech in­cluded.

SPACE AND PRAC­TI­CAL­ITY

If you’re look­ing to trans­port a large fam­ily, space is es­sen­tial. Thank­fully, this is where the Kodiaq does ex­cep­tion­ally well. The five-seat car af­fords its users a colos­sal 2,065 litres of boot space with the rear seats folded flat – the largest load area in the class.

The boot’s lip isn’t too high ei­ther, which makes load­ing larger items in and out a lit­tle eas­ier, while the com­pletely flat bed with the seats low­ered adds to the ex­cel­lent us­abil­ity of the boot.

For those look­ing to take two more peo­ple, there’s a seven-seat ver­sion, giv­ing another string to the Kodiaq’s al­ready well-strung bow. You’re not go­ing to in­cur much of a penalty in the prac­ti­cal­ity stakes for pick­ing the seven-seater ei­ther, as its seats-flat load area is re­duced to a still re­spectable 2,005 litres – which isn’t bad at all.

How­ever, with that fi­nal row raised, the boot space is some­what tight – some­thing worth re­mem­ber­ing if you’re plan­ning on us­ing the Kodiaq as a seven-seater most of the time.

WHAT’S UN­DER THE BON­NET?

The Kodiaq is of­fered from launch with two petrol en­gines, a 1.4-litre tur­bocharged unit pro­duc­ing 123bhp, and a 2.0-litre tur­bocharged one putting out 178bhp. There’s also a 2.0-litre tur­bocharged diesel, which pro­duces ei­ther 148bhp or 187bhp – the for­mer of which is un­doubt­edly set to become the best seller.

Of course, the petrol units will suit those look­ing to drive the Kodiaq mainly around town, though the diesels will be the bet­ter op­tion for peo­ple who plan on un­der­tak­ing more miles. In short, there’s a good range of en­gines that of­fer some­thing for ev­ery­one.

You’ve also got the op­tion of ei­ther a six-speed man­ual, six-speed DSG or seven-speed DSG gear­box. Of course, four-wheel drive can be spec­i­fied on all pow­er­trains, though you’ll see a slight pre­mium for this op­tion. For ex­am­ple, while the base 1.4-petrol with a man­ual gear­box and two-wheel drive comes in at £21,495, the four-wheel-drive ver­sion – al­beit only avail­able in higher grade SE trim – re­tails for £25,445.

BE­HIND THE WHEEL

When you first get into the Kodiaq, it can feel a lit­tle in­tim­i­dat­ing. Make no bones about it, it’s a big car. How­ever, once you’re up and run­ning, these reser­va­tions quickly dis­ap­pear, as it’s sur­pris­ingly ag­ile through the bends.

The steer­ing is quite light, which can make it feel a lit­tle ner­vous at high speeds, but you quickly get used to this.

The ad­van­tage of such light steer­ing is that the Kodiaq is a breeze to drive around town – although its size can some­times be a hin­drance.

Our car was equipped with the base 2.0-litre en­gine, which pro­duces 148bhp and 240Nm torque. It’s this that is likely to be the most pop­u­lar – it of­fers the best com­bi­na­tion of power and ef­fi­ciency, with a claimed 51.4mpg com­bined fig­ure down­right im­pres­sive.

The en­gine can feel a lit­tle lethar­gic at times, but we’re be­ing par­tic­u­larly harsh here, as for the most part it whisks along rather nicely and doesn’t suf­fer too much with the car’s bulk.

It’s ac­tu­ally sur­pris­ingly easy to park, too. Large wing mir­rors give you a de­cent view of the area be­hind you as well. Se-spec­i­fi­ca­tion cars – due to be the most pop­u­lar – get a re­vers­ing cam­era, which is some­thing we’d highly rec­om­mend.

VALUE FOR MONEY

Skoda cars have al­ways ex­celled at of­fer­ing con­sumers quite a lot for their money, and the Kodiaq is no dif­fer­ent. Base-level S cars get 17-inch al­loy wheels, air con­di­tion­ing and a leather mul­ti­func­tion steer­ing wheel. There’s also DAB ra­dio and smart­phone con­nec­tiv­ity. The S, how­ever, is only avail­able with the 1.4-litre petrol en­gine, with prices start­ing at £21,495.

Mid­dle-grade SE cars get 18-inch al­loy wheels, cruise control and rear park­ing sen­sors. There’s also an in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem con­trolled via an eight-inch dis­play – and this comes with a car priced at £22,495.

Move up the spec­i­fi­ca­tion ta­ble and you’ll start adding el­e­ments such as 19-inch al­loys, Al­can­tara upholstery and full LED head­lights. In short, in any spec the Kodiaq fea­tures a lot of tech­nol­ogy, which will be pop­u­lar with those look­ing to get a lit­tle bit more for their money.

WHO WOULD BUY ONE?

The Kodiaq is ideal for fam­i­lies look­ing for a smart and spa­cious way to get around. With a seven-seat op­tion, as well as an im­pres­sively large boot, the Kodiaq af­fords its own­ers a de­cent amount of prac­ti­cal­ity that is cru­cial in this seg­ment.

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