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The Skoda Kodiaq SUV has been teased so many times and for so long that we’ve almost become desensitised, but the Czech company has finally pulled the covers off. The new off-roader is the brand’s first entry to the large crossover segment, its first seven-seater vehicle and only its second SUV after the Yeti.

It’s quite striking to look at, at least from the front. Four headlights flank the three-dimensional grille – it’s said to be inspired by traditional Czech glass art and gives the car a futuristic, almost alien look. The rest of the car carries a very simple, clean-cut angular design, with squared-off wheel arches, short overhangs and standard C-shaped LED tail lights providing the Kodiaq with its own visual identity.

Step inside and you’ll find that the minimalist, razor-sharp design has been carried into the cabin as well, with four vertical air vents that dominate the dashboard. A large central display bisects the dashboard into two separate areas for the driver and passenger.

The second-row seats can be folded 60:40, are individually reclinable and can be slid forwards or backwards some 18 cm to provide more room for the optional third row. Practical touches abound, such as Ford Focus-style door edge protection strips (which extend to protect the doors when the latter are opened) and optional electric child locks and sleep headrests.

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Other options include a powered tailgate with a handsfree opening function, heated steering wheel, three-zone Climatronic air-con, heated and ventilated, power-adjustable front seats with memory, half-/full-leather or Alcantara upholstery, five trim designs and ambient lighting that is customisable in 10 colours.

Infotainment-wise, the Kodiaq comes as standard with a Swing infotainment system with a 6.5-inch capacitive touchscreen, Bluetooth and Skoda SmartLink (incorporating Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink). The optional Bolero system gets an 8.0-inch HD screen and an In-Car Communication (ICC) function that uses the handsfree microphone to project the driver’s voice to the other occupants.

On top of that, buyers can specify the Amundsen navigation system with a special display mode for driving off-road or narrow car parks, or the Columbus navigation system with 64 GB of flash memory and a DVD drive. LTE connectivity, a WiFi hotspot feature, Phonebox with Qi wireless charging, a 575 W 10-speaker Canton sound system, rear tablet holders and a 230 V power socket are optional, while Skoda Online adds Infotainment Online features and Care Connect emergency, remote access and assistance functionality.

Built on the Volkswagen Group’s MQB platform, the Kodiaq measures 4,697 mm long, 1,882 mm wide and 1,676 mm tall – making it 40 mm longer than the Octavia – with a wheelbase of 2,791 mm. Lightweight construction, including hot-stamped metal sheets for the backbone, enables the big SUV to tip the scales of just 1,527 kg in base front-wheel drive form, or 1,615 kg with a 1.4 TSI engine and all-wheel drive.

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The dimensions provide the car with an interior length of 1,793 mm and 1,527 mm of elbow room in front and 1,510 mm at the rear, as well as 1,020 mm of headroom in front and 1,014 mm at the rear; rear legroom is up to 104 mm. Luggage capacity stands at 720 litres, expandable to a whopping 2,065 litres with the rear seats folded; the optional folding front passenger seat enables the Kodiaq to transport items up to 2.8 metres long.

In terms of safety, the Kodiaq comes with Front Assist including City Emergency Brake as standard, and is available with items like Predictive Pedestrian Protection, Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Lane Assist, Traffic Jam Assist, Blind Spot Detect and Travel Assist with Traffic Sign Recognition.

Other optional active safety features include Driver Alert, Emergency Assist (brings the car to a safe halt if the driver is incapacitated), Crew Protect Assist (closes the windows and sunroof and tensions the seat belts if it senses an impending collision) and a Multi-Collision Brake (reduces movement after an accident).

There are also features meant to make it easier to manoeuvre the bulky vehicle, such as Rear Traffic Alert, Tow Assist (controls steering when reversing with a trailer), Manoeuvre Assist (which puts the brakes on if the parking sensors detect an obstacle) and a 360-degree Area View camera system.

Engine choices run the gamut of three TSI petrol and two TDI diesel engines – the 1.4 litre TSI engine features Active Cylinder Technology (ACT) and is available in either 125 PS/200 Nm or 150 PS/250 Nm variants, while the 2.0 TSI produces 180 PS and 320 Nm of torque. Meanwhile, the 2.0 TDI comes in 150 PS/340 Nm and 190 PS/400 Nm flavours.

The entry-level 1.4 TSI is only available with a six-speed manual transmission and 2WD, while the 150 PS version comes with either the manual or a six-speed DSG dual-clutch transmission and either 2WD (DSG only) or AWD with an electronically-controlled multi-plate clutch. The base 2.0 TDI mill is offered with a choice of the manual ‘box or a new seven-speed DSG, and either 2WD (again DSG only) or AWD, and both the top 2.0 TDI and TSI mills are available exclusively with the seven-speed DSG and AWD.

Underneath, the Kodiaq gets front MacPherson struts, a four-link rear axle and electro-mechanical steering, with Adaptive Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) dampers available as an option. Driving Mode Select is also optional and comes with Normal, Eco, Sport and Individual Modes, along with an extra Snow mode (and an optional Off-Road mode with Hill Descent Assist) on AWD models. There’s also XDS+ electronic differential lock on both front- and all-wheel drive models.