Skoda Kodiaq - Three Bears

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Words: Peter Louisson
11 May 2017

Things are set to kick off about now for the VW-owned subsidiary has just launched Kodiaq, a large, well styled and tech-bedecked seven-seater priced to sell from $39,990. So it competes on price with family luggers like the X-Trail ST and Dodge Journey SXT.

For the past couple of years Skoda has sold over 1000 vehicles per annum, but it is gunning for a lot more, 2000 due by 2019, rivalling Subaru for size in New Zealand.

Things are set to kick off about now for the VW-owned subsidiary has just launched Kodiaq, a large, well styled and tech-bedecked seven-seater priced to sell from $39,990. So it competes on price with family luggers like the X-Trail ST and Dodge Journey SXT.

If there’s any real negative, that would be supply, New Zealand allocated only 380 units for 2017. Skoda could probably sell double that, if Tiguan’s success is anything to go by (YTD 650 sold).

So things are looking up for the marque here, but we should not be surprised, for Skoda is going gangbusters in the EU, the top seller in many countries. It has a 4.4 per cent market share in Europe, three-fold that of the brand here. But that’s about to change for Kodiaq will be joined by Karoq (Yeti’s replacement) next year, and a facelifted Octavia has just dotted down too.

Locally, Skoda chose a bleak day to launch its newcomer to the press, the rain unrelenting, but all models were 4WD and hung tough thanks also to Pirelli Scorpion rubber. Kodiaq arrives here with three distinct specification levels, and a trio of motor choices, the $39,990 entry point 2WD Ambition using a 1.4L TSI petrol unit, good for 250Nm and 110kW, the $44,990 Ambition+ adding spec and AWD while the top Style variants come with a 132kW/320Nm 2.0L TSI ($54,290) or 140kW/400Nm TDI ($58,290) engines.

The concern amongst the assembled press was that a 1.4L four-potter wouldn’t be enough to motivate a vehicle that’s a bigger than a Santa Fe. However, the Kodiaq utilises the VW Group’s lightweight MQB platform, also underpinning Octavia and Tiguan, so kerb weight is 1723kg or less, below the seven-seat class average.

 

We drove the Ambition+ straight after driving the 2.0L turbopetrol and I reckon the 1.4 gives the 2.0 TSI a good run for its money. Skoda claims 0-100 times of 9.7sec for the front-drive Ambition, 10.1sec for the 4WD variant, and 8.2sec for the 132kW 2.0 TSI Style model. Both ride well, and are hushed. They all run twin-clutch transmissions, but there are six cogs in the Ambition’s box, seven in the Styles’. The motors are modern Euro6 mills, the diesel running AdBlue to neutralise Nox emissions. Each of these claims average fuel use in the sixes and sevens (okay, late fives for the diesel).

Skoda execs reckon that roughly two-thirds of sales will be of the Style models, so they are therefore thinking that the base Ambition models will still be important for overall Kodiaq sales. They also reckon just 20 per cent of new owners will be existing Skoda customers. The group hopes that growth by 2020 will have Skoda level-pegging with Subaru at around 2.0-2.2 per cent of the total new vehicle market (up from 1.4 per cent currently). That also presumes SUV sales will continue at around 56 per cent of passenger sales.

Kodiaq’s big at 4.7m and tall at 1.67m but manageable, with great visibility. It’s also practical, with sliding second-row seats (180mm) and 40/20/40 split folding, the latter achieved by releases in the hold. Third-row seats can accept adults, though will mostly be occupied by children. With all seven seats in use, there’s still 270L of luggage space, but when the extra seats are resited in the floor you’re looking at 630L, and 2000L with only the front seats occupied. All models come with an electric tailgate.

Skoda introduces a lot of new tech in the Kodiaq, like the Trailer Assist auto-reversing option ($1850 including deploying towbar, braked tow rating 1800-2000kg), heated wheel, Manoeuvre Assist (similar to RCTA but includes warnings for low hanging branches), surround camera, and pedestrian monitor (emergency braking up to 30km/h). There’s also a digital voice enhancer so for the kids in the back Dad or Mum sounds like the headteacher ranting through a loudhailer at assembly.

As to models, the base Ambition comes with alloys, cruise control/speed limiter, A/C, a reversing camera, partial leather seating, full LED lighting, front and rear parking sonar, AEB, voice enhancer, seven seats of course, and the 1.4 engine. Ambition+ spec adds 18-inch alloys, 4WD, full leather upholstery, heated front seats, keyless access and pushbutton start, tri-zone air, sat nav, and internal LED ambient lighting. The biggest bear (Sport) also comes with self parking, adaptive cruise, rear tints, heated folding mirrors, powered perforated leather seats, adaptive damping and off-road button, a heated wheel, paddle shifters, and a nine-speaker Canton (German) sound system. Count also on lane assist and blind spot detection. On sale now, bear in mind Kodiaq stocks are limited.

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