Skoda Kodiaq Sportline a close friend of the family
DOMESTIC life is a constant whirlwind of inconvenience. School, sporting commitments and entertaining activities are constant for increasingly busy lives.
That's why SUVs like the Skoda Kodiaq have evolved. Sedans, wagons and hatches are suffering popularity decline almost faster than the Liberal Party, and SUVs are hitting the market in unprecedented numbers.
Skoda is a brand on the move and the Kodiaq has been pivotal in the surge.
We've had one for three months and it's the Swiss Army knife of modern high-riders. Canny thinking and cool features make you smile and question why few others aren't doing the same. Equate Kodiaq to the smartphone of SUVs - it seems to have an answer to life's challenges while you're on the move.
Constant reminders are barked at our two boys when flinging doors open in tight car parks against concrete walls, poles and other vehicles.
Dad can breath easy, Skoda has that one covered. Plastic covers protect the door edges when open, and then pop back into a recess when closing. No matter how fast you go, it never misses a beat (we tried to catch it out).
When you finally wear the cherubs out, the flip-flopping heads in the back seat may provide amusement to the parents but corners are the enemy for sleepers. Small leather-clad supports can fold down from the head rest like an aeroplane seat.
The elements are also no match. Two compact umbrellas are embedded in the front doors - we've seen that feature before...in a Rolls-Royce.
Our test car also had a pair of picnic rugs fit snuggly into bags that hang over rear headrests in the boot. Handy on one occasion to keep the eldest warm after taking an impromptu swim post footy training.
Proving useful was the seven-seat option - perfect for when friends or extra family come along for the ride. The rear two chairs are primarily kids territory due to limited leg room, although shorter adults could handle the terrain for short distances.
Accessing the third row can be fiddly, although lifting and stowing the seats is fast and simple.
Once you've used smartphone mirroring apps Apple CarPlay or Android Auto you'll never go back.
They emulate the key features of your phone, enabling you to easily make phone calls or send texts via voice control. Even some of the leading luxury brand systems struggle with voice recognition, and these apps are a lengthy stride ahead.
The Skoda 9.2-inch colour touchscreen offers impressive clarity and ease of use through the various menus, while the driver can also configure the instruments with various trip computer information.
Safety kit is solid, with nine airbags, emergency braking which can help avoid or mitigate frontal crashes, lane keep assist, blind spot alert and rear cross traffic alert.
Feeling light and agile, the Kodiaq is a nimble performer.
Being the Sportline grade it gains the flat-bottom steering wheel, and make use of the various drive modes as well as the paddles for manual-style cog-swapping and it becomes engaging. Steering is light, yet sharp, and the all-wheel drive offers ample grip in varying conditions.
The better half found the 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine lacklustre on occasions, especially when summonsed to quickly punch into traffic. Coming from diesel power she has become accustomed to hefty torque on tap from low speeds to slingshot away from standstill.
Higher fuel usage than an oil-burner also meant more trips to the servo, and the Kodiaq does require premium unleaded which meant full tanks were costing about $100.
Using about nine litres for every 100km for a lot of short trips it proved slightly more thirsty than the official average figure of 7.4L.
With a warranty of five years it's a strong backing and shows confidence in the product. It's additional peace of mind...Europeans have always been regarded as good driving cars but some of the big guns have questionable longevity post short warranty periods.
This month Skoda upped the ante on servicing.
There are now service packages covering three years/45,000km for $950. That's even less expensive than the Toyota Kluger or company cousins in the Kia Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe.
It does jump significantly for the five year/75,000km pack, rising to $2100. Still a handy deal, and Skoda Australia director Michael Irmer said the packs "dispel the outdated perception that cars from Europe are necessarily more expensive to own than those from Japan or Korea”.
Our test car had all the optional packs, and this is one occasion where we'd advocate the lot. The Tech collection cost $2600 for Adaptive Chassis Control with a drive mode selection, 10-speaker Canton sound system, automatic parking, power tailgate operation which just requires a kick under the boot to activate, as well as off-road mode.
Luxury Pack adds $3400 and includes blind spot detection, traffic jam assist which can control acceleration and steering if you are in gridlock, three-zone aircon, rear traffic alert, as well as heated front and rear seats.
You're getting a top notch premium offering for just shy of $60,000 drive-away.
Impressive technology and impressive interior space rightfully has the Kodiaq among the top echelon of SUVs.
Family life and regular longer travel would make the diesel the better choice, but those undertaking constant short journeys are better suited to the petrol.
This is one of the best SUVs on the market brimming with convenience and domestic smarts.
Supply is tight across Australia, so if you want a seven-seater and a Kodiaq comes up, grab one.
AT A GLANCE
SKODA KODIAQ SPORTLINE
PRICE $50,290 drive-away (solid value)
WARRANTY AND SERVICING 5yr unlim km w'ty (good), 5yr services $2100 (excellent)
ENGINE 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo petrol 132kW/320Nm AWD (sprightly)
SAFETY 5 star, 9 airbags, AEB, blind spot detection, lane assist, fatigue detection (Tech pack adds the best gear)
CONSUMPTION 7.4 litres/100km (about 9 on test)
SPARE Space saver (becoming commonplace)
BOOT 270 litres, 630 with third row folded (excellent)