Skoda is ramping up its SUV line-up, says Damien O’Carroll.
Skoda has come a long way since the days of it being a punchline to a dad-joke, with all of its current line-up being proof of that.
But with the SUV craze currently in full swing and showing absolutely no signs of slowing down anytime soon, the small Yeti – no matter how good it was – was no longer enough.
Enter the Kodiaq – Skoda’s first large SUV and, if the local distributor is to be believed, the company’s ticket into wider mainstream acceptance in the local market.
Skoda is a mainstream competitor in the global market and is, in fact, the second largest profit contributor to the Volkswagen Audi Group after Porsche. I’ll just let that sink in.
The Kodiaq is the first salvo in a barrage of SUV product from Skoda, with the Yeti-replacing Karoq due in 2018, along with an as-yet unnamed smaller SUV in 2019 and a fully electric SUV in 2020.
The Kodiaq has been greeted with high praise and many awards as it has launched across Europe and now that it is here, we can honestly say we see why.
The Kodiaq is a strikingly handsome vehicle that looks even better in the metal than it does in photographs. The Skoda styling scales up to a large, tall vehicle remarkably well and it just looks right. Something not so easy when stretching car family styling onto an SUV.
The Kodiaq lands in New Zealand in three guises – Ambition, Ambition+ and Style.
The Ambition 110kW and Ambition+ 110kW are powered by a turbocharged 1.4-litre inline four-cylinder petrol engine that produces 110kW (surprise!) of power and 250Nm of torque, hooked up to a six-speed DSG transmission driving the front wheels in the base car and all four wheels in the Ambition+.
The Style is powered by choice of a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol that produces 132kW and 320Nm, or a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel that produces 140kW and 400Nm. Both are hooked up to a seven-speed DSG transmission.
The Ambition 110kW comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, taillights, corner function fog lights and daytime running lights, electric folding and heated exterior mirrors, half leather/cloth upholstery, a reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, climate control air conditioning, autonomous emergency braking, cruise control, an electric tailgate, rain sensing wipers, a tyre pressure monitoring system, a 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system that includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Mirrorlink and, of course, seven seats.
The Ambition+ adds a different style of 18-inch alloy wheel, keyless entry and start, triple-zone climate control, interior LED ambient lighting, full leather upholstery, heated front seats, a built-in Wifi hotspot and an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with satellite navigation.
The Style models also get 19-inch alloy wheels, a park assist system, radar cruise control, lane assist, blind spot detection, a 360 degree “area view” camera, “virtual pedal” automatic tail gate opening, rear privacy glass, a heated steering wheel which shift paddles, heated and ventilated front seats with perforated leather and a memory function and an upgraded audio system with nine speakers and a subwoofer.
While the Kodiaq is impressively highly equipped in all its guises, that isn’t actually reflected in its pricing, with Skoda New Zealand negotiating some truly remarkable prices with the factory.
The entry level 2WD Ambition 110kW model lands at a startlingly good $39,990, while the AWD Ambition+ 110kW costs $44,990. The top-spec AWD Style 132kW petrol lands at $54,290 and the AWD Style 140kW diesel tops the range at $58,290.
The Kodiaq is longer, wider and has a longer wheelbase than a Hyundai Santa Fe and boasts between 270 litres and 2005 litres of cargo space, depending on the seat arrangement.
The Kodiaq is beautifully well built, with a modern and comfortable interior that easily matches a Volkswagen in terms of quality and design. It has thoroughly exceptional on-road manners and is actually rather fun to throw around a winding road.
The great looks, extreme practicality and sharp pricing only serve to make it even more compelling.