Skoda's car of the year winner given a makeover
1. IT'S GENUINELY SPORTY LOOKING
Many brands have tried to add some sporting flair to their seven-seat family chariots but this is one of the most successful executions, having started with a good-looking design in the first place - the Kodiaq is our reigning Car of the Year. In addition to the red paint, chin spoiler and 20-inch wheels, the suede sports seats help give the Kodiaq a lift inside. The Sportline tested was the 2.0-litre turbo petrol with seven-speed twin-clutch auto and all-wheel drive from $50,290 drive-away, a $4000 premium. A diesel Sportline is available from $56,790 drive-away.
2. THE ENGINE IS SURPRISINGLY EFFICIENT
In 1500km of mostly open road driving, I averaged 7.9L/100km. It insists on premium unleaded, as most modern and efficient petrol engines do, but this helps eke out the kilometres. Around town, thirst climbed to 10L-11L/100km, acceptable for an SUV of this size. For mostly city and suburban driving, with occasional open road driving, I would pick the petrol over the diesel.
3. CLEVER TOUCHES ABOUND
From the umbrellas concealed in the front doors to the plastic tab on the windscreen to display parking tickets, the Kodiaq is full of good ideas. (Volvo introduced the tab decades ago but few brands have copied this small piece of ingenuity.) Other clever touches: plastic pop-out door protectors, a removable cargo area light doubles as a torch and iPad holders behind the front head rests are standard. It also has a "foot swipe" motion sensor to open and close the tailgate hands-free. Most other SUVs don't have this.
4. IT DRIVES WELL
The larger alloy wheels and low-profile tyres handle bumps better than I expected. It still corners with confidence and the steering is particularly precise for an SUV, without being too sensitive, and acceleration is zippier than most other seven-seaters. Paddle-shifters enable drivers to select gears manually, though the transmission is smart enough to leave it in drive as it constantly monitors and then mirrors your driving behaviour.
5. I LOVE THE INTERIOR
The sports seats give a lift to the already pleasing cabin environment. The large high-resolution touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and built-in navigation - and a clear digital speed display in the instrument cluster - add to the appeal. Resale value is a query. Even dealers can't tell you what the so-called "guaranteed future buy back" price is and it may not be a price you're willing to accept. The Czech brand has been wholly owned by Volkswagen for almost 20 years and, even after 10 years here under the German giant's stewardship, it's still relatively unknown. If the Kodiaq wore a VW badge, it would be a sellout.