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Car reviews - Skoda - Kodiaq - 132TSI 4x4

Our Opinion

We like
Refinement, space, practicality, performance, economy, comfort, ride, value, warranty, surprise-and-delight features
Room for improvement
Some road noise intrusion, LHD-bias middle-seat arrangement, 95 RON premium-unleaded tastes, not much else

Gallery

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Skoda logo13 Sep 2017

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

Overview

SKODA has played in the fringes of the Australian new-vehicle market for 10 years, but the all-new Kodiaq should change that with a combination of refinement, dynamics, space, versatility, comfort and value.

Just be sure to tick the $2500 Tech Pack option for the adaptive chassis control that provides both a soft ride to go with the agile handling.

At under $50K it ought to give leading players like the somewhat larger Mazda CX-9 a real fright, especially if you don’t need a five-metre-long SUV.

Price and equipment

Has it really been a decade since Skoda returned to Australia’s shores for the first time since well before the fall of the Iron Curtain in the 1980s?In that time the midsized Octavia has carved a small niche for itself, but otherwise a homerun smash has eluded Volkswagen’s Czech value brand. That, however, should change with the Kodiaq.

At just under 4.7 metres long it sits somewhat between a Nissan X-Trail and Mazda CX-9 in size, yet is still a seven-seater proposition nevertheless.

Right now just two four-cylinder turbo all-wheel drive models are offered – the 2.0TSI petrol as tested here and a 2.0TDI diesel. Others may follow if the Skoda fires.

Standard safety kit includes nine airbags, AEB autonomous emergency braking, front assist warning, a fatigue detection device, adaptive cruise control, tyre pressure monitors, multi-collision braking, reverse camera, front and rear parking sensors and LED fog lights with cornering capability.

On the convenience front look for light and rain sensing headlights and wipers respectively, a powered tailgate, keyless entry and start, dual-zone air-con, electric foldable side mirrors, rear window blinds, an LED torch, a luggage compartment net, and a pair of umbrellas in the driver and passenger doors.

Additionally, the base model also features an 8.0-inch touchscreen, sat-nav, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity, part-Alcantara seat trim, privacy glass, a chilled glovebox, two tablet holders, 18-inch alloys and a space-saver spare wheel.

Total price is $42,990 plus on-road costs, though our Kodiaq featured a $5900 Launch Pack that includes an off-road driving mode, automatic parking assist, adaptive chassis control with drive mode selection offering Comfort and Normal or Sport settings (though these can be purchased in the essential $2500 Tech Pack), as well as foot-waving tailgate opening, an audio upgrade, 19-inch alloys and more.

Total cost, including AWD of course, is $48,490 plus on-roads.

Interior

Bigger on the inside than the handsomely taut proportions suggest, the Kodiaq’s cabin immediately appeals as a roomy, airy and accommodating family SUV.

Key interior dimensions are 1059mm (overall length), 1527mm and 1510mm (front and second-row elbow room respectively) and 1020mm/1015mm/905mm for front, second and third-row headroom.

Being a Launch Pack, our test car boasted nearly $6000 worth of extras.

However, almost none of these add-ons are visually obvious, so whether we’re talking about this or the cheapest variant, the seven-seater newcomer rises above regular Skodas in feeling just as premium as the Volkswagen mother models. Which in this case is the Tiguan.

Let’s see. Quality materials, smooth surfaces, and even flocked door pockets (with a driver’s side bin fitted to our car) abound, while a pair of gloveboxes, excellent vision, neat multimedia system, a chunky wheel, classy instruments, heaps of storage (including several hidden drawers), and absolutely superb seats further add smiles.

Somewhat unexpected are the surprise and delight items, such as automatic parked-car savers that pop out from the door to minimise damage to other vehicles, rear-door blinds, a pair of umbrella cubbies in the front doors, a removable torch, and mobile/tablet cradles that attach to the front-seat headrest stems for rear-seat passenger entertainment. Brilliant.

Skoda’s attention to visual detailing also rates a mention. Behold the stylish ceiling light presentation, smart door spears and interesting steering wheel textures, which – along with the sound basic design of the conservative but neat dash – would not look out of place in an Audi. Classy.

Meanwhile, the middle seat is split 60:40, with both portions sliding and reclining individually, so providing a versatile solution depending on how large your occupants are. Three can fit across snugly, while the outboard cushion and backrests are well shaped for comfy accommodation.

Third-row access is aided by wide back doors, though getting there is a little hindered by the tight foot placement space, as well as the left-hand drive bias of the middle-row bench the wider of the pair is on the left, meaning that two people would have to get out to allow a kerb-side passenger to (easily) slide the seat forward to get to the third row, unless they enter from the road side.

Not so clever, Skoda.

Speaking of the third row, once there, most tall people can tolerate brief journeys. But it really is meant for smaller folk, who also can enjoy most modern amenities, including a 12-volt outlet, pinpoint lighting and side armrests with a cupholder on one side. Exiting is also a straightforward feat.

Beyond that space is the cargo area, which is well presented and offers a remote seatback folding mechanism as well as a very welcome under-floor home for the parcel shelf. More surprise and delight. The space itself is wide but not especially deep. Capacity is 270 litres with all seats erect, rising to 630 litres in five-seater mode, and up to 2005 litres with rows two and three dropped.

Overall, then, the Kodiaq seems supremely well thought out and developed for a five-seater family wagon with a plus-two seven-seater row for smaller kids or occasional adult conveyance, left-hand seating arrangement excepted. See past that, and there really is very little to fault here. Well done, Skoda.

Engine and transmission

The Kodiaq’s powertrain specification reads like any modern Volkswagen Group vehicle’s. A 132kW/320Nm 2.0-litre TSI four-pot petrol turbo mainly drives the front wheels (unless the rears require torque for additional traction) via a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission.

And, no surprises here, it is a fast, punchy, incredibly smooth and pleasingly quiet example of the species. After the usual initial turbo lag and DSG hesitation, the Skoda scoots off the line and then the speed just keeps coming on. Slow this isn’t. In fact the 8.2-second 0-100km/h claim seems pessimistic.

Bashful and refined.

Slotting the gear lever in S for sport adds a further degree of response, with the engine selecting lower ratios sooner and holding on to each gear longer.

Fast point-to-point motoring ensues, and it is pretty easy to exceed the speed limit in no time and be driving the Skoda properly fast. Being so refined and hushed, that might catch the keener driver unawares, so be careful!On the economy front we averaged about 9.2 litres per 100km/h, which is about 1.5L/100km more than the stated consumption, which isn’t bad at all for a 1.7-tonne seven-seater SUV considering how urban and hard the driving was. Note that we ran ours on 98 RON premium unleaded, which is more expensive than the recommended 95 RON stuff.

Towing capacity, by the way, is 2000kg, or 750kg on a trailer without brakes.

Ride and handling

Safe, neutral handling yet with plenty of feedback and control makes the Skoda one of the most enjoyable seven-seater SUVs on the market.

The steering is nicely communicative and reactive enough to engage the keener driver, yet also smooth and easy enough not to seem too sudden or darty for the rest of the occupants, while the AWD-assisted roadholding and grip make the Czech seem glued to the ground. Fun and refinement intertwine divinely.

That’s typically MQB VW Group dynamics, you might think, and yes, it sure is.

Yet what sets the Kodiaq apart from, say, the Tiguan we recently tested is its supple and quiet ride, even on the 235/50R19 tyres fitted to our test car. Most bumps and road irregularities fall easily within the Skoda’s dynamic repertoire, and so are smothered almost entirely.

Why can’t Germany provide such suppleness at this price point when the Czechs can? Yes, being a Launch Edition, our car did include the optional adaptive dampers that the mandatory (in our minds) $2500 Tech Pack brings, but the point is the up-spec chassis tech is available across the range, rather than as an expensive addition to higher-end Tiguans.

Unfortunately we haven’t driven a standard-chassis Kodiaq so cannot comment on whether it is actually better or worse than its VW cousin’s capabilities. But enough time in the latter suggests that the $2500 Tech Pack is money very well spent.

Ride comfort aside, the latter also allows adjustment for the engine and transmission management, as well as the power steering and air-con systems, according to whether the driver selects Normal, Eco, Sport and Individual modes.

Finally, choosing the Snow mode changes the anti-lock brake, traction and stability controls and adaptive cruise functions in line with altered engine management and AWD system for safer and surer driving over wintery road surfaces. The same also applies in Off Road mode, which also brings in the Hill Descent Control functionality.

That said, the Kodiaq is by no means a 4x4, despite what the badges say on the vehicle.

Safety and servicing

In May 2017 the Kodiaq 4x4 was awarded a five-star ANCAP crash-test rating, aided by its AEB and other safety features fitted as standard equipment.

Warranty is for a five-year, unlimited kilometre period and includes a roadside assistance program. Intervals are at 15,000km or 12 months, with capped-price standard servicing published on the company’s website for the first six years.

Skoda also offers a three-year/45,000km service pack for $1400 or $3000 for the five-year/75,000km milestone.

Verdict

In the market for a seven-seater SUV that is priced like a Kia, feels like an Audi and drives like a (more comfortable) Volkswagen? Then the charming Kodiaq 132 TSI 4x4 is it.

A can-do family runabout that punches above its size and class, the Czech-built crossover makes a huge amount of sense… and for not much coin. That’s especially so if you don’t actually need a five-metre behemoth.

Try before you buy any other three-row SUV. The Kodiaq 132 TSI AWD ranks right up there as one of our class favourites. Good one, Skoda.

Rivals

Mazda CX-9 Sport AWD from $47,890 plus on-roadsThe best seven-seater large SUV right now, the CX-9 aces the competition on a number of fronts – efficiency, comfort, driver enjoyment, design, cabin layout, refinement, quietness and performance. But a five-metre length limits its city appeal.

Kia Sorento SLi 2WD from $45,990 plus on-roadsKia’s third-gen Sorento ticks almost every box a family would want, especially for space, comfort, dynamics, performance and practicality, and then ups the ante with an industry-leading seven-year warranty. V6 is thirsty, however.

Toyota Kluger GX AWD from $47,550 plus on-roadsImproved for 2017 with marginally better performance, economy and refinement, the big gutsy American SUV is easy to live with despite its size and heft, and feels tough as nails to boot. Does like a drink, though.

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