By Dominic Parkes
Skoda has broken new ground by introducing a seven-seater to its range.
The Kodiaq may run the risk of joining in the ‘silly-sounding names club’ but that matters not a jot as it is, if you will pardon the pun, quite Superb.
It clearly borrows a lot of kerb appeal from the current Audi and Volkswagen model range and utilises and 1.4 tsi engine. Yes, 1.4 petrol. Never going to work with a heavy-bodied seven-seat SUV is the inital thought.
But I had no problem moving along at a fair pace. It is not a rocket ship and fuel consumption is not brilliant. But, at least it is not going to make you a social pariah by using the Devil’s diesel.
Even though it has the VW Group underpinnings, it is a worthy rival to the Nissan X-Trail, and if you throw in a few extras it will take the challenge to Kia Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe, although I can’t see it troubling anything with a Land Rover badge.
So it’s fair to say it is aimed at school run mummies and growing families who may occasionally park on wet grass but have no ambition of taking part in the excesses of a Camel Trophy-style adventure.
The entry-level versions of the Kodiaq come with five seats as standard, but it’s the seven-seat versions that have the most appeal and will be the sensible choice. Engine options range from a 120bhp 1.4 petrol all the way up to a 188bhp 2.0-litre diesel. You can also choose between front and four-wheel drive and manual and automatic (DSG) gearboxes.
The interior has the typical well-crafted and solid style we have become used to (something we wouldn’t have said 20 years ago). The seats are firm but comfortable and can be adjusted a zillion ways; all buttons are as satisfying to use as they are to look at.
The sat nav is one of the most informative and pleasing I have ever used. There is plenty of storage in the door pockets, front armrest – where you can wirelessly charge your smartphone too.
An optional convenience pack allows for trays under the seats, should you so desire.
My test car had an abundance of safety reminder bongs which were irritating and I gave up trying to work out what it was reminding me to do, or not do. Maybe they were just having a bad day.
For such a chunky-looking vehicle, it was rather nimble around town. However, the open road exposed rather light steering which is only improved if you move it from comfort to sport mode. It has Park Assist, Blind Spot Assist, Pedestrian monitor and Multi-Collision Assist – among many other systems – to keep you and the family safe.
For all that technology, I still love the fact it has an umbrella in each of the front doors and new fancy little black strips on the door that eject upon opening to cover the door edge from scrapes and and scuffs: two simple design features that make the Skoda Kodiaq a very practical SUV.