Skoda Kodiaq Sportline has seven-seat SUV smarts
RAIN showers which weren't forecast. Trying to sleep and your head flops side to side. Wet grass at the park. Can't find your way in the dark.
Skoda's Kodaiq has in-house solutions for all those problems. The Czech brand has the "simply clever" catch phrase and it's not a load of rubbish - they have small bins, too, in the SUV's doors.
Among the little extras are two umbrellas hidden in the doors. Small wings fold down on the rear headrests to keep the passenger's head in place. Then there's the two picnic rugs housed in satchels which hang over the the middle row seats. And the boot light can flip out to be used as a torch.
It's the small things which make a big difference to the seven-seater's appeal.
Priced from just over $50,000 drive-away, it's a sizeable outlay. But when stacked against the competition, it actually undercuts some of the big guns leading the segment yet possesses better features and more impressive on-road dynamics.
Oh, and as for the name, it's in recognition of the Alaskan bear. What's in a name? Well, it's better than the Yeti it replaces.
Brand awareness is the one of the greatest stumbling blocks for Skoda. That makes resale the greatest uncertainly.
One thing you can be assured is European build quality.
Those with any history in the UK would have sketchy recollections of the marque, but things have changed over the past two decades.
Skoda is part of the Volkswagen group, and beneath the Kodiaq skin is the same platform which is also used in many VWs and Audis ... but it's most closely aligned to the VW Tiguan.
The company lineage is plain to see from all angles. Get behind the flat-bottom steering wheel, flip through the driver's digital display and it feels Audi-esque.
Already pleasing to the eye, apart from the ungainly badge design, this Sportline variant has only just been added to the range and comes with some extra sporting showmanship. Striking 20-inch alloys, the metallic "signature" red colour scheme (which adds $1000), alcantara leather trim on the seats with contrasting silver stitching, aluminium pedals and steering wheel mounted paddle shifters ensure it lives up to the moniker.
Other standard gear includes one of the clearest 9.2-inch colour touch-screens we've seen on any vehicle, armed with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and satnav, as well as push-button start, wireless phone charging with Qi enabled devices and dual-zone air con.
Skoda does a good job of its optional packs, with the Tech collection costing $2600 for Adaptive Chassis Control with a drive mode selection, a 10-speaker Canton sound system, automatic parking, hands-free 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. A panoramic sunroof is $1900.
Ticking all those boxes takes the drive-away price just shy of $60,000.
Gaining five stars courtesy of nine airbags, autonomous emergency braking (which can help reduce or avoid a frontal accident at low speed), radar cruise control that maintains a set distance from vehicles in front, LED headlights and foglights, rear view camera, blind spot detection, while there is constant analysis of the driver and warns if fatigue is detected. To get the full suite, you have to option the luxury pack.
ON THE ROAD
Also available in diesel for an extra $6500, we'd find it hard to go past this petrol derivative.
Reasonably lithe in a straight line it can reach 100km/h from standstill in less than nine seconds. With the steering wheel-mounted paddles and a set-up which detects when you want to pick up the pace, it feels quicker.
Compared to many other seven-seaters, the Koadiaq is nimble. At 4.6m it's not small, but the likes of Mazda's CX-9 is just over 5m, a Kluger is 4.8, while the Hyundai Sante Fe and Kia Sorento are 4.7m. The Honda CR-V is slightly smaller.
Yet even with all three rows in use, there is a reasonable boot allocation of 270 litres. That's better than the Sorento and Santa Fe (142), CX-9 (230) or Honda CR-V (150).
Running on premium unleaded, so far it has averaged about eight litres per 100km.
Despite having big 20-inch wheels with low profile rubber the ride is surprisingly good, while the steering is light and accurate.
The most important perspective comes from the bride. The Kodiaq is actually on our future car shopping list.
She's been pleased with the look, performance and is smitten with many of the small features, but there have been some caveats.
When the stop-start is in operation and the engine cuts out while stationary, the steering wheel controls don't work. Same if you are sitting in the car without the engine running - the touch-screen buttons still work.
Another complaint, drink bottles don't fit in the centre console. Only cups fit in the holders, and bottles must be stored in the doors - strange when everything else is so smart.
But for the Kodiaq, it's so far so good after a couple of weeks.
The family is looking forward to testing the gadgets and giving the surprising extras a workout in the real world.
AT A GLANCE
Skoda Kodiaq Sportline
PRICE $50,290 drive-away (whole lot of kit for coin)
WARRANTY AND SERVICING 5 year/ unlimited km wty, servicing three years for $1375 (ok)
ENGINE 2.-litre 4cyl turbo 132kW/320Nm (punchy enough)
SAFETY 5 star, AEB, blind spot detection, lane assist, fatigue detection, emergency assist (everything you need)
THIRST 7.4 litres/100km (fine)
SPARE Space saver (pretty much expected)
BOOT 270 litres, 630 with third row folded (excellent)