After years of rumours, motor show previews and our first taster at its international launch, we’ve finally got behind the wheel of a right-hand drive Skoda Kodiaq on British roads. Why the excitement? Well, the idea of a full-size Skoda SUV has been compelling ever since the Yeti proved such a hit, and that was way back in 2009.

Customers clearly agree, because Skoda told us more than 30,000 people have expressed interest in the Kodiaq on its UK website, and that the first three months of production are already sold out. The fact is, SUV sales have shot up by 255 per cent since 2006, so the Kodiaq could be about to ride the crest of a wave. Its 2.0-litre TDI engine will be familiar to readers, offered here with 148 or 187bhp, with front- or four-wheel-drive and a manual six-speed or automatic seven-speed DSG gearbox in the lower-powered model and standard four-wheel-drive with DSG for the 187bhp version. We tried the 148bhp engine with four-wheel-drive and twinclutch automatic transmission and think it will be a winning combination for many customers. Skoda’s claimed 0-62mph time of 10.2 seconds feels conservative, and we were never left wanting for performance. This feels like a sophisticated powertrain, with smooth and fast gear changes and impressive refinement until the revs climb. In fact, its sporty response had us reaching for non-existent paddle shifters a few times, so they are a £245 optional extra worth considering shelling out for.

Despite being fitted with 19-inch alloy wheels, the Kodiaq also tackled UK roads with relish, smoothing out bumps, yet providing just the right amount of steering weight when attacking bends with more conviction. Our car was equipped with Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC), with adaptive dampers offering Comfort, Normal and Sport modes, so we look forward to trying a Kodiaq with a standard setup, but on this evidence, it’s a relaxing car to drive and be a passenger in.

Based on the same MQB platform as the upcoming Tiguan Allspace, the Kodiaq is a big vehicle, measuring almost 4.7 metres from tip to tail, 320 millimetres longer than a Nissan Qashqai, 98 larger than the surprisingly compact Discovery Sport and 57 millimetres greater than an X-Trail, with a 630-litre boot in five-seat mode. This pays big dividends inside, where the front and middle rows can offer very impressive legroom, close to that of the Superb. We say ‘can’, because the second row is on runners, and you’ll need to slide them forward if you want to carry passengers in the third row. Do this and two adults can sit back there, but a firm squab will make it uncomfortable after half an hour or so.

We tested the range-topping Edition trim, and the interior was the best we’ve ever seen in a Skoda, easily beating the X-Trail and Santa Fe for cabin quality. With 85 per cent of customers so far going for the top SE L or Edition trims, it seems buyers aren’t choosing the Kodiaq as a budget option, although significant savings over the equivalent Tiguan Allspace are expected. Equipment levels are strong, and the Columbus infotainment system from SE L trim upwards provides a genuinely impressive glass-like 9.2-inch touchscreen with internet connectivity. There are a few odd exceptions though, with the lack of a standard reversing camera the most striking on such a long car. It’s a £375 option even on the Edition range-topper, while Area View – providing a bird’s eye camera perspective – costs £875. Rear parking sensors are thankfully standard on all diesel versions.

Prices £27,115 to £34,050
Bodystyles 5-door SUV
Engines 2.0 (148bhp), 2.0 (187bhp)
Trim levels SE, SE L, Edition
Also consider Hyundai Santa Fe, Nissan X-Trail
Model tested Edition 2.0 TDI 4X4 Automatic
Price £34,050
Made in Kvasiny, Czech Republic
Bodystyle 5-door SUV, 7-seats
Engine 1968cc, 4-cylinder, 16-valve, turbo diesel with stop-start and selective catalyst reduction
Transmission 7-speed twin-clutch automatic
Layout Four-wheel-drive
Maximum power 148bhp @ 3,500-4,000rpm
Maximum torque 251lb ft @ 1,750-3,000rpm
Top speed 120mph 0-62mph 10.2secs
CO2 emissions 149g/km
Official fuel economy (urban/extra urban/combined) 41.5/54.3/49.6mpg
Fuel tank size 60 litres Range 655 miles
Insurance group 18 BIK rate 31%
Size (length/width with mirrors) 4,697/2,087mm
Boot space (7/5/2-seats) 270/630/2,005 llitres
Kerb/maximum towing weight 1,783/2,300kg
Euro NCAP crash test rating Not yet tested
Verdict The Kodiaq is the large SUV we wanted Skoda to make, with a great interior, practical layout and impressive refinement.