2017 Skoda Kodiaq prototype review

We drive an early example of the Skoda Kodiaq SUV, a car that will go on sale in January 2017 and be the Czech brand’s first ever seven-seater...

2017 Skoda Kodiaq prototype review

It might have a name that makes it sound like a type of camera film, but the Skoda Kodiaq is actually the first in a new generation of Skoda SUVs.

With enough space for seven seats, it's bigger than the brand’s seven-year-old Yeti SUV, and a direct rival to the likes of the Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento and Nissan X-Trail. However, it could also steal sales from more prestigious models such as the Land Rover Discovery Sport and VW Tiguan.

The Skoda Kodiaq has been revealed - get the full story hereDepending on which engine you choose, there will be a choice of front- and four-wheel drive and manual and automatic gearboxes, while in 2019 the range will expand to include a plug-in hybrid.

The cars we drove were pre-production models that were covered in camouflage, but we've seen the finished design, and it remains very faithful to the Vision S concept that Skoda showed earlier this year at the Geneva motor show.

What is the 2017 Skoda Kodiaq like to drive?

The Skoda Kodiaq shares many of its oily bits with the Superb family car, so it’s hardly surprising the two models are fairly similar to drive. That’s a good thing, though, because it means the major controls are all positive and well weighted.

2017 Skoda Kodiaq prototype review

The Kodiaq is also like the Superb in that adaptive dampers will be available as an option, and it was these that were fitted to the cars we tried, letting the driver switch between Normal, Comfort and Sport settings.

As its name suggests, Comfort is the softest of the three, but it allows a bit too much body float, so can jostle you around.

Fortunately, the Kodiaq feels more tied down in Normal and Sport. And while you’re aware of bumps passing beneath the car, they never thump through you or your passengers.

The engine range will include a turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol unit with 123bhp or 148bhp, and a 2.0-litre diesel with 148bhp or 187bhp, and it’s the lower-powered diesel that’s expected to account for more than half of all UK sales.

It’s easy to see why, too, because it pulls strongly from as little as 1400rpm, so generally makes for relaxed progress. It sends nasty vibrations through the steering wheel if you let the revs drop lower than that, but is otherwise smooth and quiet.

Four-wheel-drive models will come with hill descent control and an off-road mode that automatically optimises the car’s electronic driver aids for rough conditions, and the Kodiaq can tow up to 2.5 tonnes.

What is the 2017 Skoda Kodiaq like inside?

The Kodiaq is the first seven-seater in Skoda’s history, but you’d think it had been making them for years, because it’s built a car that's more practical than most rivals.

There’s space for adults in all three rows, even if six-footers will feel a little cramped when sitting at the very back of the car. What’s more, all five rear seats are a doddle to fold flat, and even when they’re all in place the boot is almost as big as the one in Skoda’s Fabia hatchback.

2017 Skoda Kodiaq prototype review

The looks of the Kodiaq were previewed by this Vision S concept

True, getting to the third row could be easier, because there’s quite a narrow gap to climb through, but it’s no more difficult than it is in a Sorento or Discovery Sport.

A five-seat interior with a height-adjustable boot floor will be offered as an alternative to the seven-seat layout.

Aside from its practicality, the main thing that strikes you about the Kodiaq’s interior is how classy it feels. The materials are of excellent quality and appear well put together, plus the various switches are nicely damped, and the touchscreen infotainment system features sophisticated graphics.

For the first time in a Skoda, the shortcut keys are touch-sensitive areas of the dashboard rather than traditional buttons, which is actually a step backwards in terms of usability because it means you can no longer tell them apart just by touch. However, they do look smart, and are at least easy to distinguish at a glance thanks to clear labelling.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will be available to make it easy to connect your phone to the infotainment system. And buyers will be able to download an app to their smartphone that allows them to check the fuel level and program the sat-nav remotely, and that will even help them find their car if they forget where they parked.

2017 Skoda Kodiaq prototype review

Other clever touches include umbrellas in both front doors, and a magnetic boot light that can be removed and affixed to the car’s bodywork should you need to change a tyre at night.

Should I buy one?

Pricing is still to be confirmed, but Skoda is suggesting that the 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel model will start at less than £25,000, which would make the Kodiaq cheaper than all its seven-seat rivals – and plenty of five-seat ones, too. In the five-seat only VW Tiguan, for example, the same engine costs £25,560 when combined with the cheapest S trim.

Add in the fact that the Kodiaq is more practical than direct rivals, such as the Kia Sorento, as well as classier inside and better to drive, and it’s likely to be well worth considering.

What Car? says...

Rated 4 out of 5

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Hyundai Santa Fe

Nissan X-Trail

Skoda Kodiaq 2.0 TDI 150

Engine size 2.0-litre diesel

Price from £24,000 (est)

Power 148bhp

Torque 251lb ft

0-62mph tbc

Top speed tbc

Fuel economy (official combined) 56.5mpg (est)

CO2/BIK band 127g/km/25% (est)