PROTOTYPE TAKES A TURN IN THE TOUR DE FRANCE, WRITES COLIN SMITH
Skoda teased its all-new SUV contender last weekend, leveraging its official vehicle partner status to position a camouflaged prototype as one of the lead vehicles on the final stage of the Tour de France.
The disguised prototype led the peloton on the final Tour stage run along the Champs-Elysees boulevard to the finish line in Paris, providing an early glimpse of the new model that Skoda has confirmed will be called Kodiaq.
Behind the wheel was Irish former professional road racing cyclist Stephen Roche, winner of the Tour from 1987 and a Skoda brand ambassador.
Skoda has confirmed the Kodiaq will be launched in Berlin on September 1 and will headline its display at the Paris Motor Show later in October before going on sale in Europe in early 2017.
The Kodiaq is a significantly larger vehicle than the Skoda Yeti compact SUV and will be available in five- and seven-seat configurations. The latest generation Volkswagen Group turbocharged petrol and diesel engines and DSG transmissions will be offered, and the line-up is set to include both front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive models.
A plug-in hybrid model — likely to share technology already available in the Audi A3 e-tron — is expected in 2018.
Beneath the skin of the Kodiaq is the Volkswagen Group MQB architecture, the modular vehicle platform for transverse engine models which is also used for the Audi A3 and TT, the Volkswagen Golf, Passat and soon-to-be-launched second generation Tiguan as well as the current generation Skoda Octavia and Superb.
The Kodiaq has already been previewed in concept guise, when Skoda revealed the Vision S concept at the Geneva Auto Show in March this year.
The concept also previewed the plug-in hybrid capability of the new car, while many of the styling themes from the concept are expected to transition to the production vehicle and other future models, introducing a new styling language for Skoda.
The dimensions of the Skoda Vision S concept — a 4.7-metre overall length, 1.9m width and 1.68m body height — are also a strong signal of the size of the Kodiaq and its status as a large SUV. The measurements roughly approximate those of the Hyundai Santa Fe.
The name of the new Skoda SUV is a derivation from the Kodiak brown bear that inhabits the Kodiak archipelago region on the south coast of Alaska.