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