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Driven: Skoda resets with Kodiaq seven-seat SUV

One for the money: The Kodiaq is being launched with just one model grade, but a diesel-powered variant is heading Down Under before the end of the year.

Company coy on targets, but Kodiaq is expected to lift Skoda’s fortunes in Australia

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Skoda logo1 Jun 2017

By TIM NICHOLSON

THE launch of the Kodiaq seven-seat SUV marks a turning point for Skoda Australia as it enters one of the biggest volume segments for the first time and seeks to improve its brand awareness beyond the inner city-dwellers that have been the company’s base.

Arriving in Australian showrooms this weekend, just a few months after being launched in Europe, the Kodiaq is the latest effort in Skoda’s plans for global expansion that includes more offerings in the booming SUV segment.

The Kodiaq will be closely followed by the related Karoq five-seat SUV, most likely in the first half of next year.

Skoda Australia director Michael Irmer refused to reveal local sales targets for the Kodiaq, but suggested it would quickly become one of the brand’s top selling models.

“In the end we don’t have a crystal ball and the customers are the ultimate decision makers on how many cars we are going to sell,” he told GoAuto at the Kodiaq launch in the new South Wales Hunter Valley this week.

“Of course we have a plan but we don’t discuss our plans. What I can say is that we anticipate it to be one of the main sellers in the range, that is safe to say, and we have an unprecedented demand of interest in the product line we have never seen before.”

Skoda says that it has captured more than 4100 expressions of interest from potential buyers on its dedicated ‘register your interest’ website.

Mr Irmer said the global interest in the Kodiaq has been so strong that a number of European markets had already sold their entire 2017 allocation just months after launch.

As previously reported, the Kodiaq will initially be offered in one model grade, the 4x4 132TSI priced from $42,990 plus on-road costs.

Another variant, powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine pumping out 140kW/400Nm, will hit Australian shores later this year, likely with similar specification to the petrol.

Skoda has promised that, at least in the early part of the Kodiaq’s roll out, all variants will have four-wheel drive and turbocharging as standard.

Mr Irmer said he did not think offering just one variant from launch would harm the Kodiaq’s sales potential, adding that Skoda Australia’s status as a key market for the Czech brand globally has helped get the car into showrooms sooner than expected.

“Thanks to being acknowledged as a focus market, we have been able to work very hard to arrange the release much sooner than originally anticipated. We pulled it forward by more than nine months. Technically it is really only a couple of months where we only have the petrol, we are still in the ramp-up phase and we are not missing out on any sales.”

Mr Irmer also said he “wouldn’t rule out” introducing more variants to the line-up from the global pool, but added: “I would not say that it is something that we would put emphasis on in the next two years.”

While Skoda has suggested that the Kodiaq would compete with a diverse range of rivals, including the Mazda CX-9, Hyundai Santa Fe and even the Land Rover Discovery Sport, its size and positioning places it somewhere between the large SUV segment and seven-seat offerings in the mid-size market.

That means it could be shopped against other seven-seat mid-size SUVs, including the Nissan X-Trail ST-L that starts at $38,090, the Mitsubishi Outlander Exceed from $44,000 and Honda’s incoming CR-V VTi-L that will be offered from $38,990 when it goes in sale in July.

Underpinning the Kodiaq is Volkswagen Group’s MQB platform that also forms the basis of the Skoda Octavia and Superb, VW Golf and Tiguan, as well as Skoda’s forthcoming Karoq.

The Kodiaq is 4697mm long and has a wheelbase of 2791mm, compared to 4382mm and 2638mm for the more compact Karoq, while the incoming seven-seat VW Tiguan Allspace measures 4707mm long with a wheelbase that exactly matches the new Skoda model.

Under the bonnet of the Kodiaq is a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine delivering 132kW at 3900-6000rpm and 320Nm at 1400-3940rpm, paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch (DSG) automatic transmission and driving all four wheels.

It weighs 1677kg and has a braked towing capacity of 2000kg. The official combined fuel consumption for the Kodiaq is 7.6 litres per 100km, CO2 emissions are rated at 176g/km and it can complete the zero to 100km/h sprint in 8.2 seconds on its way to a 205km/h top speed.

The Kodiaq uses a partially aluminium MacPherson front suspension and a steel four-link rear setup. It has an electro-mechanical power steering system as well as an electronic differential lock XDL+ as part of the electronic stability control that, according to Skoda, makes handling “smoother and safer”.

With all three rows in place, the Kodiaq can carry 270 litres of cargo, rising to 630 litres with the third row lowered, and up to 2005 litres when the second and third rows are stowed.

Standard safety gear includes Front Assist with City Emergency Brake, fatigue detection, nine airbags, Passenger Protect Assist, adaptive cruise control, a tyre pressure monitoring system, multi-collision braking and electronically activated child safety lock for the rear doors.

It also has a reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, automatic flashing lights in an emergency braking situation, warning lights on impact if a collision occurs, LED fog lights with a cornering function, LED rear fog and brake lights, a rain sensor, a seatbelt reminder and Isofix child seat anchors.

Further to the safety gear, the Kodiaq is also offered with an automatic tailgate, keyless entry and start, dual-zone air-conditioning, foldable side mirrors, adjustable second-row seating for easy third-row entry, rear window sun blinds, an LED torch integrated into the luggage compartment, a luggage compartment net, and a pair of umbrellas in the driver and passenger doors.

It also features an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Columbus satellite navigation, an eight-speaker audio system with Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Alcantara seats and a multi-function flat-bottomed steering wheel.

Privacy glass, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, front and rear LED reading lights, 60:40 split fold second-row and 50:50 split fold third-row seating, a space-saver spare wheel, an air-conditioned glovebox, front and rear carpet mats, an electric park brake and two tablet holders for rear passengers are also standard fare in the Kodiaq.

Individual options include $700 metallic/pearl effect paint, a $1900 panoramic sunroof and 19-inch Anthracite alloy wheels from $1650.

Skoda is offering the Kodiaq with three options packs, including a Tech Pack that adds a hands-free tailgate opening, a premium stereo, an off-road driving mode, park assist, Adaptive Chassis Control with Drive Mode Selection (with Comfort, Normal or Sport modes) and other features for $2500.

At $4900, the Luxury Pack adds lane assist, blind spot detection, electrically adjustable front seats, black or beige leather-appointed seats, front and rear heated seats and more.

A $5900 Launch Pack includes everything listed in the Tech Pack, several options from the Luxury pack as well as 19-inch Anthracite wheels.

The Kodiaq will be offered with a three-year, 45,000km service pack from $1399 or a five-year, 75,000 pack from $2999.

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