News Corp Australia’s Motoring section – published inside the nation’s metro and regional newspapers each week – has today crowned the Skoda Kodiaq as its Car of the Year.
Over 600 cars were road-tested to narrow the field to just one vehicle:
The Skoda Kodiaq, a family seven-seater, has trumped the very best of the newcomers that arrived in Australian showrooms over the past year.
In a multicultural mix, the six judges from across News Corp newspapers named 10 finalists from six different countries: three cars were built in South Korea, one in Mexico, one in England, one in the Czech Republic, three in Japan and one in Thailand.
The judges – including motoring editor Richard Blackburn alongside Paul Gover, Joshua Dowling, Craig Duff, Paul Fraser and Tim Vaughan – have been testing cars for a combined 100 years.
This is the 21st year of the awards, with VW and Holden sharing the record for most winners. But it is the first time a Skoda has been a finalist.
More than 85,000 people voted in the People’s choice awards, which went to the Kia Stinger with 28 per cent of the vote. The Audi Q5 and Honda Civic Type-R were the next most popular.
There were no hybrids or electric vehicles in the awards and only one diesel-powered vehicle. Six of the cars were turbocharged.
The judges said the Kodiaq was built off the same underpinnings as the VW Tiguan, which took the car of the year prize in 2016, but it’s improved in many ways.
Blackburn said: “The Kodiaq was a unanimous winner of this year’s award. The judges were impressed by the quality of cabin materials, the punchy turbocharged engine and the clever seven-seat layout.
“Most impressive, though, was the attention to detail and the thoughtful, family-focused touches in the cabin. There are umbrellas stored in the front doors, iPad holders for the kids and a detachable torch in the rear load area. It even has two picnic blankets under the floor.”
“It’s the Swiss Army knife of cars. I love it,” said Dowling.
“Its cabin works as a comfy five-seater or occasional seven-seater and smile-inducing little touches include a built-in torch, a pair of umbrellas, iPad holders, a rubbish bin and pop-out rubber strips on the doors to prevent carpark dings.”
The Kodiaq, from about $46,000 on the road, comes with a five-year warranty, which makes it a winner on the value front. A rare downside is Skoda resale values, which don’t yet match the quality of its cars.
The Kodiaq had to beat one of the toughest fields in the history of the awards, with 10 contenders ranging from the baby Kia Picanto city car priced at $15,690 drive-away to the luxury Audi Q5 SUV from $72,400 on the road.
The 2017 Car of the Year contest was the first without a single contender from a local maker. Ford, Holden and Toyota failed to make the grade with any of the imported models that now fill their showrooms after the end of local manufacturing.
Holden and Volkswagen have won the award the most. The Commodore won in 1997, the Astra in 1998, the Monaro in 2001 and Calais in 2006. Volkswagen won with the Polo in 2010, the Tiguan last year and the Golf in 2009 and 2014.