Skoda's much-needed large SUV is simply brilliant
AS TWO massive fans of the Skoda brand, we were over the moon when the Czech company announced it was introducing a new SUV to its fleet last year.
The Volkswagen-owned group has been crying out for something to rival the big players in the large SUV market and its latest addition to the fleet, the Skoda Kodiaq, is definitely a ‘Bear Thrills’.
Up until now, the only offering from the group has been the Skoda Yeti, which, a bit like Marmite, people either love or hate.
Apart from its boxy looks, we have always had a soft spot for it since we first test drove it in the Russian wilderness a good few years back.
However, the new Kodiaq – which is named after the bear from the Kodiak Archipelago in Alaska – is much more of a cuddly offering than its abominable snowman sibling.
That’s not to say that it doesn’t have enough to scare off some of its closest rivals in this segment – Hyundai’s Santa Fe and Kia’s Sorento.
It could also put it up to some of the premium-brand animals like the BMW X3 and the Audi Q5 from its own VW family and even the likes of the Land Rover Discovery Sport.
On the outside, the new Kodiaq is very easy on the eye.
It has many sharp lines and features a wide, three-dimensional radiator grille coupled with narrow, raked headlights.
The looks were so important for the group they put their top man, Jozef Kaban – who is credited with designing the Bugatti Veyron – on the job.
The inside looks the part and there is a real premium feel.
Our test car featured a massive eight-inch infotainment system that is simple to use and features Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink.
Elsewhere around the cabin we found the new Kodiaq very spacious and the seats are extremely comfortable.
The Kodiaq is available as a fiveor seven-seater SUV, but at just €1,000 for the extra two seats in the rear it really is a no-brainer for us.
We definitely can’t see many five-seaters being sold here in Ireland.
We found the rear seats to be extremely comfortable and versatile with a 60:40 split and, they can be moved lengthways by 18cm to give that little bit of extra room in the third row.
In saying that, the third row, again like most seven-seaters in this segment, are only for small children and we wouldn’t recommend sticking two teenagers in there for a long journey, like we did during our week-long test drive.
Stick with the smallest of rugrats and you will be just fine or leave the third row down altogether for that extra boot room.
On the road, apart from the commanding view it offers, the new Kodiaq feels exactly like the Octavia or Superb when you get behind the wheel.
Our test car for the week was the range-topping 190bhp 4x4 model, which is a beast on the road.
It will shift the Kodiaq from 0-100kph in 8.6 seconds and on to a top speed of 210kph.
However, there really is no need to opt for this model as the 150bhp version has more than any Irish buyer will ever need.
If you are not planning on doing that many kilometres over a calendar year then there’s a 1.4-litre TSI petrol variant which is ample enough.
If it’s a bit more punch you are looking for, there’s a 2.0-litre TDI diesel with choice of either a six-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed DSG automatic.
The motors range from 125bhp to 190bhp, which are turbo charged with direct injection and feature a stop-start system, brake energy recovery and a thermomanagement system.
Overall, the new Kodiaq is a superb addition to the Skoda fleet. It is the affordable seven-seater that Irish buyers have been crying out for. However, a word of warning.
Although the prices for the new Kodiaq start at just below €29k, by adding a few extras here and there you could find yourself handing over a cheque to the dealer for over the €40k mark.
And there really is no need to push the boat out on this one as even the entry-level Active model comes with almost all that you are ever going to need in an SUV motor.
Trust us, this new Skoda Kodiaq has got the simple ‘Bear’ necessities for life’.
Paul Keown & Robbie Farrell