David Motton

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Škoda's on a run of building excellent tow cars, so expectations of its Kodiaq SUV are high, even before it's revealed – David Motton finds out more

Škoda will officially reveal the Kodiaq SUV at the Paris Motor Show this September, with UK sales starting in early 2017.

The launch of a proper SUV will fill an obvious gap in the brand’s product line-up, and given Škoda’s strong following among caravanners and the suitability of SUVs for towing, the Kodiaq should be one of the most exciting new tow cars of next year.

What do we know about the new Kodiaq? Well, first of all it seems Land Rover’s irritating tendency to use the letter ‘q’ instead of a ‘k’ is catching. Kodiaq surely ought to be spelt Kodiak like the Alaskan bear, just as the Range Rover Evoque ought to be the Evoke. But some marketing guru somewhere seems to have decided that ‘q’ is much more sophisticated than the humble letter ‘k’. Frankly it gets on my wicq.

The silly name isn’t the only nod in Land Rover’s direction. Viewed from the side there’s a hint of the Evoque in the styling of the VisionS concept, which points towards the production version’s design. There are elements of BMW X car here and there, too. If the concept isn’t watered down too heavily by the time the Kodiaq reaches production, it should be quite an imposing car.

Škoda insiders suggest that while the exterior will look very similar to that of the VisionS, which was unveiled at the recent Geneva Motor Show, the interior will alter more noticeably before the first cars roll off the line. According to reports from our colleagues on Autocar magazine, the centre console will be more simple and the production car will have seven seats.

That pitches the Kodiaq squarely against other seven-seat SUVs like the Hyundai Santa Fe and the Kia Sorento. These cars both have kerbweights of around 1900kg or more. Given that most of today’s Škoda models have relatively low kerbweights compared with the competition, I wouldn't be surprised if the Kodiaq weighs in lighter than many of its key rivals. That won’t help with outfit matching ratios, but should help the Kodiaq compete strongly on economy and emissions.

Unsurprisingly, technical details are thin on the ground when the production car won’t appear on a motor show stand for another six months. However, expect the engine range to be taken from the more powerful engine options in the Superb range. The 190PS (187bhp) engine should be a good match for a seven-seat SUV of this size, even though it has less torque than the engines fitted to the Santa Fe and Sorento. It would be great to see Škoda borrowing the 240PS (237bhp) bi-turbo engine from the Volkswagen Passat for the Kodiaq, too. A plug-in hybrid model is also planned, although this won’t be part of the range initially.

Autocar reports that the Kodiaq is just the first in a family of SUV models. Expect a more coupe-like model, as well as a high-performance SUV which could carry the vRS badging familiar from Škoda’s hot hatches and rapid estate cars.

Škoda is also working on a replacement for the popular but ageing Yeti crossover. It’s likely to be bigger than today’s car, with improved interior space and a hybrid version. It will be interesting to see if Škoda will continue to sell the Yeti replacement in standard and Outdoor versions, or whether all cars will have the chunkier, more SUV-like styling of the Outdoor.

Whatever Škoda decides about the future direction of the Yeti, it’s clear that SUVs are to become an important part of the brand’s future. Škoda’s boss, Bernhard Maier, told Autocar: “We’ve seen for some time that the SUV segment has experienced the strongest growth in the market. That was the reason for Škoda to decide to invest in this segment. There is already major demand for the Yeti and we hear from existing customers and from those that want to be customers that they would like to see a Škoda SUV.”

Will the Kodiaq be a hit with caravanners? Time will tell, but I wouldn't be surprised if buyers form an orderly ‘q’…

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