The much anticipated launch of the new Škoda Kodiaq marks a major milestone of the Czech brand as it dips its toe in the world of the SUV market. Some brands would make a gradual transition into such a vibrant sector but Škoda seem to have pulled out all the stops to ensure that this SUV will tick so many boxes.

Škoda as a brand have gone from strength to strength in the past number of years. This is evident even throughout their Irish dealer network as they have now completed a full overhaul of their 27 Škoda sales and aftersales dealers around the country giving them a new contemporary and modern look. This is in keeping with the range of new models which are being launched by the brand as they continue to command a strong foot hold in the overall Irish car market. To put this into figures, in 2016 Škoda accounted for 6.5% of overall national new car sales with sales of 9,509 units. This also represented an increase in sales for the brand of 21% on 2015.

As the SUV market expands and demand increases, customer’s needs and desires constantly increase also. More space, stylish looks both inside and out and reliable performance from a powerful engine range. What Škoda have achieved with the Kodiaq is all the above and then some. Even before it arrived on Irish shores, the talk was all positive from potential buyers and if the word from Škoda is anything to go by this has transferred through to cold hard sales. According to Škoda Ireland they have already received pre-orders for 50% of their projected sales for 2017 already.

The new Škoda Kodiaq is available in five or seven seats with pricing starting from €28,795. It is available in three trim levels; Active, Ambition and Style along with five engine options and manual or DSG transmission as well as the 4×4 option in the diesel models. Standard spec on the entry Active trim includes 17-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, Bluetooth, climatronic air conditioning and Smartlink+ technology for smart phone integration. Step up to the Ambition trim for an additional €1,900 and you get 18-inch alloy wheels, keyless engine start, silver roof rails and front and rear parking sensors while the top spec Style trim for an additional €3,900 includes 19-inch alloys, keyless entry and start, full LED headlights, Alcantara upholstery, interior ambient lighting, a rear-view camera and an 8 inch Columbus navigation system. It should be noted that the diesel models are only available in Ambition and Style trim and pricing is in relation to the five seat versions. If you want to add the third row bringing it up to a seven seater it will cost an additional €1,000.

So, what is the new Škoda Kodiaq like in the flesh. From the outside I would have to say that given its overall size it is one of the most aesthetically pleasing models in its segment. It is no easy task to make something that is almost 4.7 metres long, almost 1.7 metres high and almost 1.9 metres wide look as good as they have. There are striking lines that just continue to draw your eye towards them no matter what angle you look at it from. It possesses a strong muscular stance which is complimented by the wider front grille yet there still appears to be an athletic and sporty appearance.

What Škoda have always done well is make the most of the interior space and the interior of the new Kodiaq is no different. As far as seven seat SUV’s go, the Kodiaq offers class leading rear legroom and headroom and even back in the third row of seats it isn’t in any way uncomfortable back there. Sitting into the driver’s seat you are greeted by an uncluttered dash with an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment display on Ambition and Style trims. Smartlink smartphone integration is standard across the range as is the “E-Call” emergency call system and Škoda connect; care connect. The Škoda Connect system offers a multitude of services such as SOS, live driving data, exact parking position, area and speed notifications, breakdown call service and the clever “Honk & Flash” for when you arrive back in the airport carpark after a week in the sun and you can’t remember exactly where you parked!

Once again, the new Škoda Kodiaq leads the field when it comes to boot capacity in the five-seater format which stands at 720 litres and expands up to a massive 2,065 litres with the second row of seats folded down. Even in the seven-seat guise, boot capacity comes in at 270 litres with all seats in place, expanding up to 660 litres with the third row down and 2,005 litres with the second row down also.

So, what can you expect from the engine line up. While the 150hp 2.0 TDI is expected to be the volume seller of the Kodiaq, Škoda also expect the 1.4 TSI petrol engine to account for 15% of their overall sales. Our engine of choice for the launch event was the 190hp 2.0 TDI engine with 4×4 and paired with a DSG transmission. This engine offers an abundance of power for a vehicle of its size with 400Nm of torque delivered between 1,750 and 3,250 rpm. Gear changes in the seven speed DSG are seamless and getting from 0-100km/ hr with this model will take you 8.9 seconds along with a top speed of 210 km/ hr. The Kodiaq also has a towing capacity of 2,500kg with trailer assist also available as an optional extra.

Comfort levels over the majority surfaces are never compromised. The feeling inside the cabin is one of executive comfort. Given the overall size of the Kodiaq it corners very well ensuring that you always know how hard and far it can be pushed while the steering provides ample feedback.

One thing that is abundantly clear based on first impressions is that the new Škoda Kodiaq will shake up the competition such as the Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento and the Nissan X-Trail and rightly so. The Kodiaq ticks almost every box from practicality and space to refined interior and exterior design. Given the pricing structure which has been developed by Škoda it is sure to further the position of the Kodiaq up the pecking order.

We look forward to having an extended test drive of the new Škoda Kodiaq over the coming months where we can bring you a more in depth review.

Pricing on the new Kodiaq starts from €28,795 plus delivery related charges.