Ko­diaq mo­ment

A new name among seven-seat SUVs, the new-from-the-ground-up Skoda has no di­rect ri­val

The Advertiser - Motoring - - COVER STORY - JOSHUA DOWL­ING NATIONAL MO­TOR­ING EDI­TOR

STILL try­ing to fig­ure out what this is? You’re not alone.

At first, peo­ple squint to get a bet­ter look at the un­usual de­sign. Then they squint to find the badge.

The Skoda logo may be to most Aus­tralians but it is one of the world’s old­est au­to­mo­tive name­plates, dat­ing back to 1905.

The Czech brand, taken over by Ger­man gi­ant VW in 2000 and rein­tro­duced here in 2007, is still try­ing to get a foothold in Aus­tralia, one of the world’s most com­pet­i­tive mar­kets.

The just-ar­rived seven-seat Ko­diaq is its best chance yet, given our in­sa­tiable ap­petite for SUVs. Pre­vi­ous Sko­das have largely been hand-me-down Volk­swa­gen tech in roomier body styles with marginally cheaper prices than their Ger­man coun­ter­parts.

The Ko­diaq, how­ever, is new from the ground up — and in­side-out — and uses the lat­est gen­er­a­tion VW-Audi Group un­der­pin­nings.

It still bor­rows VW com­po­nents and dig­i­tal screens but the in­for­ma­tion is dis­played in a Skoda font. The in­te­rior de­sign is a more daring take on Ger­man styling.

Apart from the love-it-or-hate-it ex­te­rior, the Ko­diaq stands out from the crowd for one other rea­son. It’s a seven-un­fa­mil­iar seat SUV that, for now at least, has no di­rect ri­val.

Just when you thought there were no more SUV niches to be filled, the Ko­diaq fits in the 10mm gap be­tween the Nis­san X-Trail and Hyundai Santa Fe.

Priced from $42,990 plus on­roads (although the ex­am­ple we tested ex­ceeded $50,000 drive­away), it is our cheap­est Euro­pean seven-seat SUV.

A caveat: ser­vic­ing is dear af­ter three years. The fouryear/60,000km visit costs $993.

A glance at the stan­dard equip­ment list re­veals how it dif­fers from the Ja­panese and Korean al­ter­na­tives.

The Ko­diaq comes with nine airbags, radar cruise con­trol, city-speed au­to­matic emer­gency brak­ing, seat belt re­minders for all seats, power tail­gate, front and rear park­ing sen­sors and rear-view cam­era (a 360-de­gree cam­era is op­tional).

Other stan­dard fare in­cludes built-in nav­i­ga­tion, Ap­ple Car Play/An­droid Auto, a “glassstyle” touch­screen, dual-zone air­con­di­tion­ing and LED head­lights with turn­ing lamps (to il­lu­mi­nate cor­ners at night).

Neat Skoda touches: an um­brella stashed in each front door panel, a small plas­tic bin for the front door pocket and a dis­creet plas­tic tab on the wind­screen to stop pay-and-dis­play park­ing tick­ets blowing away. An in­ge­nious rub­ber strip pops out of the door on open­ing so you don’t dent the car next to you in the car park.

The sleek roofline may be a lit­tle lower than other SUVs but the in­te­rior lay­out is clever. The mid­dle row seats (which slide and tilt) can be low­ered by pulling a tab in the cargo hold;

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