Skoda Kodiaq Sportline quickly gaining appreciation
FIRST it was the learned gentleman asking questions at the coffee shop. Then a mum at footy training. The Skoda Kodiaq has proven quite the socialite.
Growing interest is testament to Skoda's expanding stature in a crowded market.
Forecast to sell more than 6000 vehicles in Australia this year, the Czech brand is on track to trump 2017's record-breaking sales by 20 per cent.
Owned by Volkswagen, the marque is quickly finding favour. Getting hold of one can often be the greatest challenge.
Cricks Skoda at Maroochydore is finding demand is often outweighing supply.
"Most are pre-sold before they come through...they are sold on the water,” Skoda brand specialist Nathan Waterhouse said.
"There are a lot of people travelling to Europe and seeing the numbers of Skodas on the road. Police cars, hire cars, taxis, and they often say 'I hired an Octavia over there and loved it to bits'.
"I sell quite a few manual Octavias off the back of that. It's really rare. Any other brand you wouldn't get that phone call.”
One of the greatest unknowns is future value. All cars depreciate in value, and with the Skoda nameplate beginning to gain momentum more vehicles will start entering the used car market.
"We get good retention of Skoda buyers,” Mr Waterhouse said.
"They are starting to hold their value really well. It's definitely changing.
"I have fleet customers switching over because of the reliability and five-year warranty. People are also coming across from Volkswagen.”
Mick Jagger may have struggled, but it seems Skoda customers are feeling satisfaction.
The marque topped a recent Roy Morgan survey which analysed how happy new car buyers were post-purchase.
Speaking with more than 40,000 consumers, the year-long survey found total Skoda satisfaction of 97.5 per cent, just ahead of Lexus, Mazda, Land Rover, Suzuki and Peugeot.
Our family of four has also become smitten.
Making use of the emergency umbrellas which are hidden in the front doors, as well as the picnic rugs, it feels sporty with a flat-bottom steering wheel and bucket seats.
Key criticisms come from the bride via the central cup holders. She wants them to be able to handle water bottles as well - not just in the doors.
The specially tapered cup holders are skewed toward a European audience, but it does allow for a slim bottle and the holders can grip it while you remove the cap with one hand. Smart.
GOT THE JUMP
Not often does the upstart trump its bigger sibling.
While the Kodiaq arrived here last year, the Volkswagen Allspace stablemate has only just reached showrooms. Sharing the same underpinnings, the VW comes with more engine options and differing specification.
Prices for the Allspace begin at $40,490 for the entry-level offering, surprisingly $2500 more than the base Kodiaq.
Skoda isn't perturbed. It's currently happy to maintain ample bells and whistles in the large size SUV where private buyers are happy to spend about $60,000 for seven-seaters.
HOW DOES IT STACK UP?
Sitting between large and medium-size SUVs, the Kodiaq has some tough opposition.
Within the seven-seater realm are some excellent offerings vying for buyer dollars, including South Korean pair Hyundai's Santa Fe and the Kia Sorento, as well as the Japanese contingent including the Nissan Pathfinder, the off-road focussed Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, as well Mazda's CX-9 and all-new CX-8.
Internally the Kodiaq feels more like a large SUV, but the dimensions have it sitting closer to Honda's CR-V that falls into the medium category. The Kodiaq sits lower to the ground than any of those key rivals, so it's easier for entry and exit but it's no hardcore off-roader despite its 4x4 credentials.
At 4697mm long, it's shorter than the CX-8 (4900mm), Sorento (4800), Santa Fe (4770), Pajero Sport (4785), CX-9 (5075) and the Pathfinder (5042). But measuring 1882mm wide, its girth is greater than the CX-8 (1840mm), CR-V (1855) and Pajero Sport (1815).
That translates to a machine easy to park.
When it comes to boot space, the Kodiaq offers a reasonable 270 litres with all three rows in use, and 630 with the back seats folded into the floor. It's got more space than the CX-8 (239, 572), Sorento (142/605), Santa Fe (130/547), CX-9 (230/810), CR-V (150/522) and Pajero Sport (131 but a larger 673 with seats down).
Price sees the Skoda hold its own at about $60,000 on the road with all option packs included. Retail price for the the range topping Santa Fe Highlander is $60,500, Sorento GT-Line AWD is $58,990, CX-8 Asaki is $61,490 while the CX-9 Aazmi is $64,790, the Pajero Sport Exceed is $53,650, Pathfinder Ti $66,190, while the smaller 2WD CR-V is $38,990 - those prices don't include on-roads.
Across varying sizes and styles, the Australian automotive industry has seen many buyers abandon diesel. Our Kodiaq flexes it's muscle with a 2.0-litre petrol engine under the bonnet.
"We've seen a massive shift toward petrol. It's mostly up-front cost, but also potential issues with DPF (diesel particulate filter) and being unfamiliar with AdBlue. We don't see issues with DPF but it's something the customer needs to be aware of, because if they only do school runs we won't sell them the car,” Mr Waterhouse said.
"Those that have had diesels are already aware and they don't care, they want diesel because they are towing or live up the mountain.”
DPF issues are experienced by some drivers who don't undertake enough kilometres, and regular long drives are needed to achieve a high engine temperature which burns off accumulated soot.
AdBlue is a water-based additive that's been developed specifically to make diesel engines more environmentally friendly.
Changing driving modes plays a key role in the petrol engine's performance, with the economy option feeling lacklustre on occasions - struggling up our steep driveway. Normal and Sport are the best options, and the Eco mode is confined to highway runs. Its internal flexibility is excellent, able to handle a couple of surfboards in the back with ease.
AT A GLANCE
SKODA KODIAQ SPORTLINE
PRICE $50,290 drive-away (our car has the two optional packs, taking the price closer to $60,000).
WARRANTY AND SERVICING 5 year/ unlimited km warranty, servicing three years for $1375 (ok).
ENGINE 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo 132kW/320Nm (Eco mode is best on the highway).
SAFETY 5 star, AEB, blind spot detection, lane assist, fatigue detection, emergency assist (everything you need).
THIRST 7.4 litres/100km (that's the official figure but we have been getting 9.9L/100km using premium unleaded).
SPARE Space saver (pretty much expected
BOOT 270 litres, 630 with third row folded (good against rivals).