Skoda Kodiaq: Skoda's SUV a new star on horizon
I hear forecasts and expectations of sales from car makers and distributors every time a new or revised model is unveiled. I take many with a pinch of salt.
But when someone says they expect to sell 1,000 new models this year - and already have 500 sold - then prophesy becomes fact.
That's what has happened with Skoda's new Kodiaq SUV, officially unveiled here this week. I've driven it extensively abroad (from Barcelona to Cherbourg) and reported here. Don't worry, I'm not going back over old information.
What is really new is that 1,000 people can expect to own one by the end of the year. Skoda could sell more but can't get them.
Now and again a car catches the imagination. It would appear the Kodiaq is one. Skoda execs say they are dealing with a 'remarkable' and consistent level of enquiries. Which, alongside the fact they are encountering a whole new audience, is why they expect to sell 1,500 next year.
As you know, the Kodiaq is a mid-size SUV. It starts from €28,795. That's for the 5-seat version. Add €1,000 for the 7-seater. No wonder 70pc of orders are for the latter. You may not need seven seats every day but they are great to have as backup. And €1,000 extra is small change on a PCP. Their PCP deal starts at €309/month (3.9pc will rise to 5.9pc - that's what demand does).
Anyway, the Kodiaq is 4.7m long (same as rivals); and 1.9m wide. It's got a big boot at 720 litres - the KIA Sorento is nearest with 660. Skoda also claim it's tops for head and rear legroom (50mm + on the Ford Kuga). Incidentally the second-row splits 60/40 and slides; folded there are 2,065 litres in the 5-seater (2,000 in the 7-seater). With all seven seats up you get 270 litres.
The third row in any vehicle is always more compact. That's the case with this too, but Skoda say leg space is double that in the Nissan X-trail.
Look, every automaker highlights their own advantages. I'm sure Nissan, Hyundai (Santa Fe), KIA (Sorento) and Ford (Kuga 5dr only) can come up with their own USPs. But Skoda say their use of space is tops. In fairness, it is an impressively roomy cabin.
The 2-litre diesel engine (150bhp, 190bhp) is the core driver (85pc of purchases) but the 1.4-litre petrol (125bhp, 150bhp) would definitely suit urban drivers.
The Kodiaq is a new star for Skoda, no doubt, but stalwarts such as the Octavia and Superb are the ones that won buyers over the years - to such an extent the marque will top 10,000 registrations for the first time in 2017.
Surprisingly, most people are looking for a 4x4 and not 4x2 in the new arrival. And buyers are really going for high-spec models. So much so the main seller will be the 4x4 DSG (auto) Style trim (€40,995). I'd have thought the 2-litre diesel with DSG (€36,095) would have been the choice but no: spec and 4x4 are in demand. There are 6spd manual and 6spd/7spd auto transmissions. Road tax ranges from €280 to €390.
The Kodiaq weighs just 1.7 tonnes but has a 2,500kg towing capacity. It means you could tow a two-axle horsebox (920kg), two horses (total 725kg) and be well under the 2,500kg limit. With the SUV included it still comes under the combined 3,500kg limit.
You can also have infotainment online (news, weather etc). But Skoda Connect is a more important facility: it's a 24/7 resource should you need emergency services, have a breakdown or need information: there's a button for each.
I think it's fair to say it would appear the Kodiaq has 'connected' on several fronts.