NZ-bound Kodiaq breaks cover

Skoda’s first full-sized sports utility, coming to NZ next year, has been revealed.


THE vehicle that has potential to massively enhance Skoda’s standing has been unveiled.

The Kodiaq, a seven-seater large sports utility, that will rival medium-large crossovers including the crowd-favourite Toyota Highlander and Hyundai Santa Fe through to the just-landed Mazda CX-9, has previously been touted as potentially being in New Zealand around April, 2018, although indication from the maker at the model’s unveiling on September 1 suggests it might not now arrive until the third quarter.

But that’s entirely speculation – efforts to achieve comment from Skoda New Zealand were unsuccessful.

The Kodiaq is based on the Volkswagen Group’s modular transverse matrix (MQB) and so shares its platform with other Volkswagen Group models yet, despite its impressive dimension - 4697mm long, 1882mm wide and 1676mm tall, with a 2791mm wheelbase – is set to be perhaps one of the lightest entries in its category, which bodes well for performance and economy.

The entry-level versions, with a 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine and front-wheel drive, weighs just 1452kg, rising to 1540kg when offered in the alternate all-wheel drive format. Compare that with the CX-9, which clocks more than 1800kg in its lightest form.

A 1.4? Well, that’s the smallest powertrain and, though coming in two levels of output, perhaps one unlikely to be seen here. In fact, of the five powertrains - two TDI and three TSI engines, all turbocharged and direct injection – we might well to restrict to the 2.0 TDI, available in two variants, the first generating 110kW and 340Nm and the other 140kW and 400Nm, plus perhaps the 2.0-litre TSI petrol, which makes 138kW and 320Nm torque.

All engines feature a Stop-Start system, brake energy recovery and a thermo-management system, contributing to low consumption. Skoda is providing three transmission choices, these being - depending on the engine – a six-speed manual gearbox or DSG transmissions with six or seven speeds.

As is typical of modern crossovers, there are front- and four-wheel-drive versions, the latter still being primarily front-drive until slip is detected.

As an optional extra, Kodiaq has Driving Mode Select which allows the driver to adjust the operation of the engine and DSG management, power steering, air conditioning and other systems in Normal, Eco, Sport and Individual modes.

The purely front drive models have Snow mode, which adapts the operation of the ABS, ASR and ACC (if fitted) systems, as well as the engine management and electronically controlled, all-wheel, multi-plate clutch to slippery road conditions. The all-wheel-drives have an off-road function, This affects engine revs, brakes and throttle response as well as traction controls.

Adaptive Dynamic Chassis Control is an option, and is integrated into Driving Mode Select, with the usual Comfort, Normal or Sport modes.

Though it’s named after the largest kind of grizzly bear, Kodiaq won’t be the biggest SUV in its category, but it’s big enough and appears to be quite roomy. The interior length is 1793mm, elbow room is 1527mm in the front and 1510mm in the rear. Head room is 1020mm in the front and 1014mm in the rear. Rear legroom measures up to 104mm. The second row seats can be moved forwards and backwards by 18cm and are 60:40 split fold, the backrest can also be adjusted.

The boot measures 720 to 2065 litres in the five-seater with the rear seats folded down, and can transport items up to 2.80m long. An electrically operated tailgate is available.

The Skoda Kodiaq will debut a lot of new or enhanced safety systems for Skoda, including: Trailer Assist which can, when the Kodiaq is towing a trailer, take over steering when reversing slowly. Additionally, while reversing, the new Manoeuvre Assist will brake as soon as an obstacle is detected behind the vehicle. The system is controlled using an enhanced function of the rear parking sensors. 

The Area View system is a first for the brand: the surround-view cameras, which are located in the front and rear as well as the wing mirrors of the Kodiaq, come with wide-angle lenses and allow views of the area immediately surrounding the car to be displayed on the monitor. These include a virtual, top-down view and 180-degree images to the front and rear.

Front Assist including City Emergency Brake comes as standard and, using radar, can detect “dangerous situations” involving pedestrians or other vehicles in front of the car. If necessary, the system warns the driver and, when required, partially or fully applies the brakes. City Emergency Brake is active up to 34kmh. The optional Predictive Pedestrian Protection complements Front Assist. 

Radar-assisted Adaptive Cruise Control appears, so too Lane Assist, Blind Spot Detect and Rear Traffic Alert. Traffic Jam Assist comes as an additional function and maintains speed and applies the brakes in slow-moving traffic.

Driver Alert detects signs of fatigue in the driver and prompts the driver to take a break while Emergency Assist, only in combination with DSG transmission, is a further function of the ACC and Lane Assist combination. Should the danger arise that the driver is unable to drive, the system will bring Kodiaq to a standstill.

More? Crew Protect Assist, available in a choice of two variants, closes the windows and sunroof, and tensions the seat belts automatically in the event of an impending accident. The camera-based Travel Assist with Traffic Sign Recognition displays speed limits and other road signs as images on the in-car computer as well as the navigation system.

The Swing infotainment system with its 6.5-inch screen comes as standard. It can be supplemented with a smartphone Bluetooth connection and Skoda SmartLink, which supports Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLinkTM in the car.

An optional Bolero infotainment system features a high-definition 8.0-inch touchscreen, including the In-Car Communication (ICC) function. The hands-free microphone records the driver’s voice, and transfers it to the back seats via the rear speakers.

The Amundsen navigation infotainment system builds on the capabilities of the Bolero system with a navigation function as well as a special display mode for driving off-road or even in narrow car parks. The top-of-the-range infotainment system, the Columbus navigation system, adds a 64-GB flash memory and DVD drive. An optional LTE module facilitates high-speed online access; Phonebox (also a cost extra) charges a smartphone inductively using the Qi standard and connects to the car aerial – both processes occur wirelessly.

Kodiaq is just the start of a fresh Skoda foray into SUV-dom. A new generation of its smallest rockhopper, the Yeti, is out in 18 months and, beyond tsat, there’s going to be a Kodiaq coupe and what the brand describes as “other opportunities.” In all, it suggests, there might be five crossovers.