Skoda is making much of the engineering integrity of its new Kodiaq SUV, saying it weighs around 400kg less than many rivals, offers more cabin space into the bargain, and gets even more nifty gadgets under its ‘Simply Clever’ banner, a trademark collection of conveniences for both car and occupants.
The Kodiaq – named after Alaska’s Kodiak brown bear, the largest of the species – will land in New Zealand later next year. It won’t be as physically imposing as the bear, which can stand more than 3m tall on its hind legs and have paws the diameter of a 16-inch wheel, but it nevertheless will muscle its way into the country’s dominant new vehicle segment.
Skoda’s first big SUV is available as a five- or seven-seater and underpinned by the largest version of the Volkswagen Group’s MQB chassis. It is 4697mm long, 1882mm wide and 1676mm tall, dimensions slightly smaller than the Hyundai Santa Fe, for example. But the Kodiaq’s 2791mm wheelbase is a significant 91mm longer than the South Korean’s.
The Czech Republic’s carmaker has made effective use of the flexible chassis architecture to pull down the weight of the SUV. It says the entry-level two-wheel-drive Kodiaq with its 1.4-litre petrol engine has a kerb weight – without occupants or luggage – of 1452kg and that four-wheel-drive variants will weigh around 1540kg. Seven-seaters will weigh marginally more.
The kerb weight of the Santa Fe is between 1750kg and 1950kg, depending on model. The Land Rover Discovery Sport’s is between 1750 and 1850kg; the much larger Mazda CX-9’s is up around 2000kg; same with the Toyota Highlander.
Skoda is also trumpeting the Kodiaq’s interior dimensions, saying it is “larger then average” for the segment, with more head and elbow room. Boot space is a hefty 720 litres, but fold the second and third row seats flat and a whopping 2000 litres becomes available. That’s up to 400 litres more than some rivals.
Five VW Group petrol and diesel engines will be available for the global market, but Skoda NZ is likely to go with a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel and DSG gearbox. The engine is available in two states of tune – 110kW/340Nm and 140kW/400Nm, but only the latter unit has the maximum braked towing capacity of 2500kg. A 2.0-litre petrol is also in the mix, delivering 132kW/320Nm.
Whether Skoda NZ will have both front- and four-wheel drive models remains to be seen. Both offer Driving Mode Select, which allows the driver to alter the engine response, gearbox software, and power steering to suit conditions. Four-wheel drive models add a Snow mode, which alters the behaviour of gearbox and anti-lock brakes. There is also hill descent control and adaptive suspension.
One of the 30 (seven are new) Simply Clever features on Kodiaq is a spring-loaded rubber strip inside the edge of the doors. It folds out when the door is opened – to protect the edge from hitting a wall or nearby parked car – and folds in when the door is closed.
Kodiaq will come with the VW Group’s array of active and passive safety equipment, including autonomous emergency braking. Infotainment includes Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and Wi-Fi connectivity. Technology runs to wireless phone charging. Wheels are expected to be 17-inch as standard with 19-inch options.