Friday February 3, 2017
By Richard Bosselman
As expected, Skoda’s first sports utility is starting small – not just in price but also the engine bay.
Regardless it will deliver an extra-rich specification – including Wi Fi connectivity – the new seven-seater comes into New Zealand in May with a price span peaking below where some cited rivals start – from $39,990 through to $54,290 (before options are considered) - and also the smallest engine in the large category, a 110kW/250Nm 1.4 turbo petrol.
This engine goes into an entry front-drive TSi and the cheapest all-wheel-drive, the first in lowest grade Ambition specification and the other in a higher level Ambition Plus fitout. There is also a flagship Style trim.
Also en route are a 132kW/320Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol and a 2.0-litre turbodiesel in a 140kW/400Nm format. It seems that Skoda has u-turned on earlier talk of also having this engine in its alternate 110kW/340Nm version.
The 110kW petrol runs through a six-speed direct shift gearbox while the others use a seven-speed DSG. The front drive model is rated to tow 1800kg braked while the dour-wheel-drives will cope with 2000kg on the hook.
The Ambition delivers with LED headlights, an electric folding tailgate, pedestrian monitor - a new autonomous safety system that prevents collisions with pedestrians and minimises the car’s speed in the event of an impact – and appears to have a wireless method of running Apple CarPlay – rich pickings for this price range. Regardless, Skoda NZ expects most interest to focus on the Ambition Plus that adds three-zone air con, sat nav, leather, heated front seats and steering wheel and multi-hued ambient interior lighting.
The Style interior, meantime, runs to a higher grade of leather, has a fancier sat nav, park assist, a full range of parking sensors and adaptive cruise control. This model also runs a dynamic body control and is on 19 inch wheels, whereas the others run 18s.
Skoda NZ boss Greg Leet believes the car’s launch timing couldn’t be better.
“New Zealand has a ravenous appetite for SUVs, and we’re seeing unprecedented levels of interest. With SUVs accounting for 52 percent of new car sales last year we’re looking forward to going head-to-head with the big volume models.”
He has previously predicted that the model can achieve 500 sales this year, a count that will equal that of the current most popular Skoda, the Octavia.
The price span strengthens suggestion that a close relation, the new-generation Volkswagen Tiguan, is also in Skoda’s sights, but Leet has previously denied this, saying that while the VW is in the market, so are many other vehicles, including the Hyundai Santa Fe and Tucson and the Ford Escape.
The announcement of a 1.4-litre might seem ambitious given that, this country, nothing else in the big boy category runs anything smaller than a 2.0-litre.
Leet, though, has always been upbeat about this engine’s potential and has not previously agreed that it’s an example of extreme down-sizing.
“That engine goes really well in other body styles we have, and Tiguan has that engine as well, so there’s no reason to think it won’t go well in Kodaiq.
“It’s 110kW coupled to an incredible transmission and it (the Kodiaq) is lighter … significantly lighter … than the competitors because it is based on the MQB architecture.”
How light? Skoda cites the 1.4 as clocking just 1452kg in front-wheel-drive format and 1540kg as an all-wheel-drive, and though those figures are thought to apply to the five-seater, the seven –pew car will still be exceptionally light by class standards.
Further technology being placed into Kodiaq includes wireless phone charging, Skoda Connect Wi-Fi hot-spot connectivity and Canton audio of up to 575-watts and 10 speakers. Active safety technology extends to lane keep assistance, traffic sign recognition and autonomous emergency braking (AEB).