The new, second-generation Skoda Kodiaq is bigger, bolder and more advanced than its hugely successful predecessor – while introducing plug-in hybrid power for the first time.
The Czech brand's reinvented flagship has been revealed just a few weeks after sibling brand Volkswagen unwrapped the new Tiguan, with which it shares its MQB-Evo platform and much of its technical make-up.
However, the parallels are all hidden beneath the skin, with the Kodiaq adopting its own distinctive new look in line with Skoda's new-era design ethos.
Skoda boss Klaus Zellmer said: "The new Skoda Kodiaq takes the Skoda features our customers appreciate to the next level: more space, more features and more efficiency."
It is the first production car to be styled with elements from the 'Modern Solid' philosophy previewed by last year's Vision 7S concept, which gives the new Kodiaq a more overtly rugged and utilitarian billing than its predecessor.
Highlights of the refresh include squared-off wheel arches, a prominent hexagonal grille, a heavily sculpted bonnet and model badging in a new corporate font.
The makeover is capped off by Skoda's clean new logo, which makes its first appearance on a production car. Also new for the 2024 Kodiaq is the option of an LED light strip running across the front end, which brings it into line with its electric Enyaq sibling.
Skoda head of design Oliver Stefani said the second-generation SUV has been designed according to the principle of 'form follows function', adding: "The design not only emphasises practicality but also enhances the aerodynamics with its dynamic shape."
In fact, the blocky new look belies the "major aerodynamic advancements" achieved via the sloping roofline, active cooling shutters, sleek new mirrors, a chunky rear wing and cleaner-lined bumpers. Skoda claims a drag coefficient of 0.282 for the new car.
The design overhaul accompanies a "moderate but effective" increase in overall dimensions. Measuring 61mm longer than its predecessor and with a wheelbase of 2791mm, the new Kodiaq offers more space for each passenger while boosting load capacity in the boot.
Skoda claims passengers in the optional third row of seats now have an increased, 920mm of headroom, and even behind the rearmost seats, luggage capacity is pegged at 340 litres - a 70-litre increase. The five-seat car benefits from a 75-litre boost to offer 910 litres with the rear seats in place.
Meanwhile, the cockpit area – revealed last month and largely shared with the upcoming Skoda Superb – plays host to a redesigned control suite that majors on tidiness and ease of use. There is a 10.0in digital gauge cluster, an optional head-up display and a new free-standing touchscreen – measuring either 10.0in or 13.0in – for control of most vehicle functions. However, Skoda points to three new physical 'smart dials' ahead of the centre console as the headline introduction for the new Kodiaq's cabin.
The outer two rotary knobs, each housing a 32mm colour display, are used to adjust the full suite of climate controls for the driver and passenger, while the middle one can be configured to control the infotainment volume, driving modes, map zoom or air conditioning.
The interior can be specified in one of four simple 'design selection' packages – Loft, Lounge and two variations of sustainability-themed Ecosuite – and each has been conceived with an eye on reducing the Kodiaq's environmental footprint.
There is no chrome in the new SUV's interior, for example, and all textiles are said to be made from either 100% recycled polyester or 40% natural wool. Even the included ice scraper and umbrella – hallmarks of the Skoda line-up – are "made from sustainable materials".
The new Kodiaq iV plug-in hybrid pairs a 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with an electric motor for a total output of 201bhp. It has a substantial claimed EV-only range of more than 62 miles from its 25.7kWh under-boot battery, making it one of the longest-range PHEVs on sale. Being able to top up at 50kW at public chargers makes it one of the fastest-charging too.
Pure-combustion engines return in the form of two turbocharged four-cylinder diesels or petrols, with outputs ranging between 148bhp and 201bhp and each paired to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox.
The entry-level 1.5-litre petrol engine, driving the front wheels, is equipped with 48V mild-hybrid technology – another first for the Kodiaq – and cylinder-deactivation technology for reduced consumption while cruising. Skoda has yet to reveal any official MPG or emissions figures, however.
The more potent 2.0-litre petrol and 2.0-litre diesel engines drive through a seven-speed gearbox, and the most powerful of each comes as standard with four-wheel drive. There is no word yet on plans for a hot Kodiaq vRS range-topper, but notably the closely related Tiguan is available with a 261bhp 4WD PHEV powertrain, which could feasibly be deployed in the new Kodiaq.
For the time being, the Kodiaq range is topped by the performance-inspired Sportline, which is marked out by its black exterior and interior trim elements, colour-coded lower bodywork and bespoke alloy wheel designs.
It comes as standard with a raft of equipment that's optional further down the line-up, including the Kodiaq's new Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) suspension control package, which features twin-valve dampers for improved dynamics and refinement, and has a wide range of available suspension modes.
Prices for all Kodiaq models will be detailed closer to its launch in mid-2024, but no doubt the SUV will come at a slight premium compared with its predecessor, which currently starts from £34,760 and tops out at £49,335.
Skoda Kodiaq prototype first drive
Even the most iconic movie trilogies (The Godfather, The Dark Knight) tend to run out of puff by the third instalment. But it’s different with Skoda SUVs.
The Czech maker released a strong three-part series, with the Kodiaq being the equivalent of a great debut movie, followed by the highly successful Karoq and Kamiq.
Now, the firm is focusing its efforts back where it all started and a new Kodiaq will land in the first quarter of 2024. The second-generation large SUV will continue to share parts with other Volkswagen Group models, including the VW Tiguan, and it will still offer up to seven seats.
Prices, trim levels and equipment will be confirmed towards the end of this year, but the choice of a standard Kodiaq and a sportier-looking Sportline version remains.
A hotter vRS version is expected to join the range about a year later. At launch, there will be two petrol and two diesel options. And since 97% of Kodiaq buyers went for the smooth-shifting DSG gearbox, all engines will have this as standard.
The entry-level 148bhp 1.5-litre petrol uses the latest Evo2 mildhybrid tech and is more refined than before. Not only is it quieter under acceleration, but the switch to fuel-saving two-cylinder mode is also even smoother.
Performance is adequate rather than sparkling when you’re pressing on, but it’s sufficient for running all those local family errands. Besides, there’s a 201bhp 2.0-litre TSI petrol if you want more oomph.
The entry-level 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel, with its muscular low-end grunt, feels more capable for hauling a Kodiaq packed with kids and clobber. We suspect it’s a touch overkill for mostly urban use, but it’s a great cross-country choice.
The top-tier 190bhp diesel isn’t as sweet, feeling less urgent and revving more slowly, but less diesel clatter filters through into the cabin and, perhaps more importantly, it is the only Kodiaq to come with seven seats and four-wheel drive.
Arriving a little later, in summer 2024, a plug-in hybrid will be available for the first time, with a petrol engine, an electric motor and a 26kWh battery that enables an electric range of around 60 miles.
As before, you can have adaptive suspension, which Skoda calls Dynamic Chassis Control Pro. You can stiffen or soften the ride depending on the driving mode, although our test was limited to the Normal setting. Other than some thump and vertical movement in your seat over speed bumps, the ride is comfortable, remaining settled and isolating you from the road surface well.
The Progressive Steering system feels meaty and precise on the move, and the system ramps up the steering rate at low speeds to help with manoeuvring.
Although we would stop short of calling it fun, the Kodiaq’s drivability remains nicely judged for a practical family SUV, with less body lean and more fluent steering than in a Hyundai Tucson or Peugeot 5008. Refinement also remains a strong point.
The Kodiaq’s interior won’t be unveiled until October, but it will feel familiar to those who have spent time in the outgoing model.
The overhauled dash relocates the gear selector to the steering column, and Skoda is keen to point out that a cluster of physical controls will complement the larger, 12.9in touchscreen infotainment system (similar to the Enyaq’s), so it should be one of the easier set-ups to use in the class.
There is also a wireless charging pad (now large enough for two phones) that will cool your devices too, while a head-up display can be fitted for the first time. Overall then, based on this early taste, the new Kodiaq looks likely to broaden its appeal without alienating its current fans.