Monthly Archives: July 2017


Skoda came late to the SUV game. But when it arrived, the Yeti rewrote the rules on how a small 4×4 should be. Now the company aims to do the same thing with the Kodiaq, a larger vehicle whose all-road ability, seven-seat practicality and sensible pricing is aimed directly at the heart of Discovery Sport territory.

Based on the latest technology used throughout the Volkswagen Group, the Kodiaq is designed to be as family-friendly as possible. Not all models have seven seats, just as not all have four-wheel drive, but with a choice of five engines, two gearboxes and four trim levels, it’s unlikely that you’ll fail to find one to suit your taste.

That’s if it’s to your taste at all, of course. The Yeti stood out by virtue of its distinctive styling, but the Kodiaq is more conservative, looking smaller than it really is and even appearing quite car-like from some angles. Apparently the nextgen Yeti will take the same approach when it arrives later this year, which you might say is a bit of a pity.

Far be it from us to talk of trivial stuff, but it did occur during the launch that this is a vehicle whose design is particularly sensitive to the colour you paint it. We drove one in signal red, which definitely deivided opinion; ours would be that unless you want to hide in the scenery, a bright colour helps.

Inside, the Kodiaq feels just like a Skoda should. It’s beautifully put together, of course, and the dash on the SE L spec model we drove was highlighted by a very elegant, very modern touch-screen media system that looked crisp, made logical sense to use and responded promptly to inputs.

This helps make it a pleasing and entirely inoffensive place to sit, as do good, comfortable seats with a commanding view of the road ahead. Behind you, the second row can be slid far enough back to let one six-footer stretch out behind another – naturally, there’ll be a push-me-pull-you sort of compromise to be made if there are people sat in the third row too, but our tester was only a fiveseater so that one’s going to have to wait for another day.

What we were able to do was drop the rear seats, which is dead easy as it’s just a question of pulling a lever and watching as the backs drop to click into place and sit near-flat on the fixed squabs. They left a step in the load floor on the Kodiaq we drove, but once you’ve played about with the seven-seat options and/or the various cargo handling accessories on offer, there’s no reason to fear being stuck with one like that.

Our Kodiaq had the 1.4 TSI engine, in 150bhp form and mated to a manual gearbox. Yes, a 4×4 with a 1.4-litre petrol engine… last time we came across one of those, it was an old-generation Dacia Duster from the early nineties.

Happily, the Kodiaq bears no resemblence to that sad shed of a thing. The engine is brisk and full of torquem the gearbox is a picture of smoothess and the overall standard of handling and, in particular, ride shows none of the harshness that’s blotted Skoda’s copybook in the past. It doesn’t exactly reflect well on how much attention we were paying, but at the end of the launch route we remarked that we had barely noticed what the Kodiaq was like to drive – a sure sign of a car with no vices.

The petrol engine is not to be feared, and if you value serenity you’ll fi nd it quieter than the 2.0 TDI diesel we had a quick spin in afterwards. Both are very acceptable, however.

What the launch route didn’t include was any off-tarmac work worthy of the name (even though we were tantalisingly close to Salisbury Plain, which was a bit frustrating). So that too will have to wait for another day – however with Off-road mode available as part of the Drive Mode Select option on 4×4 models, we fully expect the Kodiaq to be as capable as mechanically similar machines like the new VW Tiguan – which has previously impressed us in genuinely difficult conditions.

As it is, the pictures on these pages make it clear that Skoda is marketing the Kodiaq as a vehicle for people who want to keep going after the road ends. Within reason, we expect it to excel at that – it’s clearly not for hardcore mudplugging, and you wouldn’t want to cane it through clawing thorns, but on the sort of known-quantity rough tracks that make up almost all the off-roading people do in the real world, it has the makings of a true do-anything family holdall.

Land Rover Discovery

There were no surprises when pictures of the Discovery 5 surfaced. Like the Discovery Sport but taller, wider and with familiar traits from previous Discoverys like the stepped roof, the D5 is clearly the top dog in what is now Land Rover’s most rounded model family.

Crucially, however, there’s always the risk that someone will label it, ‘just a rebadged Range Rover’. There’s no denying that this Discovery looks closer to its poshest relations than before, especially at the front. What this Discovery needs to do, though, is drive like a Discovery. There needs to be segregation here compared to the Range Rover. Unlike in the old Discovery 4, you have a choice of engines ranging from the 240hp 2.0-litre Sd4 diesel to the 340hp 3.0-litre Si6 petrol unit.

We tested the one in between, a 258hp 3.0-litre Td6 version, and while that doesn’t have significantly more power than the Sd4 engine, there is around 20% more torque on tap (443lbf.ft against 369lbf.ft). Simply put, the Td6 engine is superb. Essentially the same unit as the old SDV6, it does a fine job of hauling the vehicle up to speed. Having shed 480kg in weight over the old Disco 4, it’s no wonder this new Discovery feels lighter on its feet. Naturally, it’s no featherweight still, so you can’t start thinking you’re in a sports car – but you can at least think heavyweight boxer rather than sumo wrestler.

There’s more good news too as each engine is mated to the brilliant eight-speed ZF gearbox. On the road, the Discovery 5 feels very composed. It still has that Discovery 4 glide, and it’s very easy to settle into. The steering is nicely weighted for a vehicle this size, making it easy to position in town and when entering the sort of bends you’ll find on a typical B-road.

Again, it’s easy to cover ground quickly. Yes, there will be a little body roll in the corners, but it’s minimal and to be expected when you’re pressing on in a vehicle of this stature. Big is one conclusion everyone seems to draw from their initial greeting with the Disco 5.

But no, it doesn’t feel like a Range Rover. There’s more to it than that. It feels multi-purpose. It feels versatile. It feels Discovery.

Admittedly, when you sit in the driver’s seat of the new Disco, the fact that it utilises the same steering wheel and switchgear as the Range Rover can undermine that argument. But having parts from a car that is significantly more expensive is surely a string to the Discovery’s bow.

Being the new kid on the block, the Discovery has other perks too. These include the Intelligent Seat Fold system, which allows you to raise or lower the middle and back rows of seats all at the touch of a button; the stadium seating that means the (very usable) back row gets as good a view of the road ahead as the driver; the on-board wi-fi and hundred different USB slots to help kids keep shtum for weeks. There’s even heated seats for every single row and bum.

Everyone should be safe, too, as you carry the kiddiewinks to school in a vehicle awarded with a full fivestar NCAP safety rating.

Forget the party pieces and on-road manners for a moment, though. Take the Discovery 5 offroad and you understand why Land Rover is so excited about it.

There’s no escaping that you are subject to a far more digitised experience than you had 28 years ago in a Discovery. The latest Terrain Response 2 algorithms, combined with All-Terrain Progress Control, Hill Descent Control and cameras on every panel, mean it can all feel a little disconnected.

However, all these electronic aids mean no terrain is safe from the reach of the Discovery. Even over severe rocks, it brings a level of composure, while traction control settings can adjust automatically to solve the equation the landscape poses ahead. Our impression is that the Discovery 5 will go further than a Disco 1 or 2 could manage, at least in standard spec.

A 900mm wading depth also enables the Discovery to do a good impression of a narrowboat heading down your nearest canal.

Notwithstanding this, the new Discovery looks and moves much better than a boat. The fresh exterior, while not to everyone’s taste, has sharpened it up over its predecessor. Yet it still feels like a Disco 4 – only nimbler.

The problem with the Discovery is the Range Rover. Or more accurately, the Range Rover’s problem is now the Discovery.

The version we drove was a Td6 HSE Luxury: yours for £75,965. That sounds like insane money for a Discovery, but this is a seriously high-spec machine which echoes the Range Rover with some of the touches in its cabin.

The question is that with the Discovery being such an all-rounder, with seven usable seats, brilliant storage space, luxury taken straight from the Range Rover and more capability than you’ve ever seen in a thing with four wheels, why would you spend possibly an extra £25,000 on a Rangey?

The answer is that snob value is a powerful thing. And you can expect the Range Rover to keep on moving upmarket. With what may just be the greatest ever Discovery now on its case, it might have to.


Hard as it is to believe, the Subaru Forester is two decades old this year. We’re on to the fourth-generation model, and even this is already midway through its life cycle. What started out as an Impreza on stilts is these days an SUV in its own right. It’s still at the car-derived end of the scale, but it remains instantly recognisable as the sort of vehicle Subaru has been doing so well since long before the rest of the industry figured out that by crossing cars with off-roaders, it could create something for which punters en masse would go wild.

The current Forester follows a familiar pattern. There’s an allindependent layout, a choice of flat-four engines and, at the top of the range, a turbo-nutter model. What we have here is the sensible choice – the 2.0D diesel, albeit in top-dollar XC Premium form. This has all the usual rangetopping stuff, like leather, sat-nav, memory seats and a powered tailgate. But even in standard form the Forester is a very well equipped car, and we’d question the need to spend another £2500 on it. Whichever way you go, you’ll get an SUV with a very well made interior.

It’s not all flash and clever, but the surprise and delight comes from the feeling that everything you touch is carved from rock. The controls are excellent, and well laid out to make piloting the vehicle an easy job, and a superb driver’s seat gives you loads of adjustability in every direction.

There’s plenty of stowage space around the cabin, too, and the media screen on this model is very nice – though a major irritation with the sat-nav is that having given it a postcode, it still demands a street name before it will start taking you there. In the back, the seats are set high enough to provide an excellent view. Headroom could be better, though (the sunroof, which is standard, doesn’t help), however knee room is okay even with the seat in front fully back. For cargo carrying duties, the rear seats drop with a 60:40 split to leave an almost completely flat floor. There’s a slight step, but it’s smoothed over by a flap so as to allow big items to slide into place. You can drop the seats using levers in the boot sides, too, which is nice and convenient. But the tailgate aperture isn’t the biggest, and there’s a bit of a lip to get your luggage over on the way in and out.

Overall, however, the Forester scores well for practicality. It’s a pleasing vehicle to drive, too. The diesel engine has enough power to get you about briskly, but really you’re driving it on torque – of which there’s plenty, all of it available from way down low in the rev range. Add in a gorgeously slick manual gearbox and you’ve got an SUV that takes no effort at all. It’s not wearing on the ears, either.

The engine does its stuff very quietly and, with little in the way of road or wind noise, it’s as refined as you’d expect and then some. It’s lovely and smooth, too – 225/60R17 tyres strike a good balance between agile handling and supple ride, and there’s almost nothing in the way of vibration from either the road or the drivetrain. There’s little in the way of thumping, either, with speed bumps and jagged pot holes damped out skilfully. You do hear and feel them, of course, but at a distance that’s wholly acceptable.

Body movement is well controlled, too – part of our test route is to take the idiot’s line over a series of diagonally set speed pillows which can throw a vehicle from side to side, but the Forester soaked them up well. That level of compliance is impressive when combined with a genuinely entertaining level of handling that lets you use the vehicle’s all-wheel drive platform to the full. It steers positively and holds on as well as you’d expect, allowing you to work the drivetrain to fire it out of corners for fun.

This is the stuff of all-round competence, and when you add in a sure-footed presence on rough, unmade tracks and sloppy surface mud, you have a vehicle which really is ticking all the main SUV boxes. Ground clearance is a very decent 220mm and, while Foresters with low range are a thing of the past these days, the combination of all that low-down torque with a good, deep first gear means you can ease if over uneven ground with a strong degree of confidence.

Subarus aren’t easy things to get a discount on, but even at list price the Forester looks like good value. With its build quality backed up by a long warranty, it’s the sort of vehicle you keep for way more than the standard three years. Thats’ how it’s always been with Subarus – and this Forester continues to build on its manufacturer’s hard-won reputation for making cars people keep for life.

Revised one-tonne pick-up is cheaper to run, thanks to a much smaller engine, and gains longer equipment lists to go with an amended model range


There’s been a move towards smaller engines in the car market as a whole. But in the world of pick-up trucks, where once every model had a 2.5-litre turbo-diesel, things have diverged.

Up top, the Ford Ranger offers a 3.2-litre option and the old 2.0 TDI in the VW Amarok has just been replaced with a 3.0-litre unit. But now here’s the Isuzu D-Max, fi ve years on from its arrival in the UK, heavily downsized from its old 2.5-litre engine to a new lump displacing just 1898cc.

Can such a small engine work in a mainstream one-tonner? That’s the question Isuzu needs to answer if the D-Max is to maintain the huge success it’s achieved since 2012.

There’s more to the new D-Max than just a smaller engine, however. Its styling has been freshened up, its cabin has been improved and all models now feature hill start assist and hill descent control. Audio systems are new across the range, too, and the front bumper and bonnet have been redesigned to give pedestrians a better chance should the unthinkable happen.

The D-Max tested here is the range-topping Blade double-cab, complete with the optional sixspeed automatic gearbox. This would cost £27,999 plus VAT on the road (that’s £33,599 once the tax man has taken his share). This is a lot less than you’ll pay for some double-cabs. But price apart, does the character of a topspec truck sit comfortably with that of such a small engine?


Double-cabs’ interiors can feel a bit utilitarian compared to those of similarly priced SUVs. But between its underlying design and the lavishly dressed-up treatment given to the model on test here, there’s nothing about the D-Max to make you feel like a second-class citizen.

In particular, this is a truck which highlights the fact that hard plastics don’t need to feel cheap. All too often, where they occur in everyday vehicles it’s because they’re being used as a way of saving money, and they’re scratchy and brittle as a result. Here, though, while the dash surface has no give, the plastics in which it’s trimmed feel dense, stout and there for a reason. It’s a strong truck and they belong in it.

The infotainment module, on the other hand, doesn’t feel as if it belongs. That’s not to say it’s bad, but its 9” screen sits proud of the facia in a frame so large as to totally dominate the rest of the dash. It even sticks up far enough to obscure access to the lidded tray behind it on the dash top, and beneath it is a bank of buttons that’s the opposite of intuitive – and, you’d think, of the purpose of having touch-screen controls in the first place.

With sat-nav and phone pairing functions, the unit does have plenty of power, and you’ll learn its controls quickly enough. Aside from its awkward appearance, our main concern would be that the display is hard to read in direct sunlight.

Another feature of the Blaze model is its quilted leather seats, which look fantastic and are in the main good and comfortable. We found ourselves getting achey on long journeys, however, and they could do with a little more lateral support.

The driving position is good, though, and there’s plenty of adjustment in all directions. You’re not so well provisioned for stowage, with a large cubby box doing most of the work here. And we’d have expected such upmarket seats to have come with adjustable lumbar support.

A welcome surprise, however, is that even with the front seats fully back, the rear bench can still take a couple of six-footers. The seat-backs are well sculpted to accommodate your knees; the thick cords on the map pockets do dig in somewhat, and headroom is adequate rather than generous, but there’s a good view out the side and you don’t feel at all cramped.

When you’re carrying cargo or equipment that’s too delicate or valuable to be chucked in the load bed, the rear seat-back folds down to create a totally flat platform. That’s a nifty little practicality bonus; the generally usable nature of a onetonner needs no introduction, but as far as this goes the Blade model comes with a damped, wide-opening tailgate and a choice of loadspace cover options.


With 164bhp and 265lbf.ft, the new engine is a touch higher on power than the old 2.5-litre unit – but down significantly on torque. This has no apparent bearing on its ability to shift the vehicle, but you do hear it revving considerably more in the process.

The auto box obviously has some bearing on this, requiring what sounds like a good bit of effort to keep it wound up. In particular when the engine is cold, the result is an amount of revs which can verge on the alarming; it does settle down as it begins to warm up, but even then it’s quite vocal.

There’s no shortage of pull, however, at any position in the rev range. Top torque comes in at 2000rpm and you can hold it on the brakes for a moment as you keep the engine warm in anticipation of fi ring it into a gap in the traffic – which it does with all the briskness you’d hope for. Even just stamping lazily on the loud pedal gets a result, actually, though between the relatively high engine speed for max torque and the need to bring the gearbox into life, you need to put in more work than that if you want it to really spring into action.

The box does have a manual over-ride option if you want it, and we found that it’s also very good at keeping you from running away on steep hills. Lift off the throttle and it’ll stay in a low gear to enable compression braking – the result is a gale of noise from under the bonnet until the engine matches its revs to the situation, but for sure it works.

Given the constant references we’re making to noise, you could be forgiven for assuming the D-Max didn’t impress us on the motorway. In fact, the opposite is the case – the engine settles down well at speed, with an acceptably low level of droning that can be knocked out by the stereo without having to turn it up stupidly loud. Wind noise is there, as is some thumping from down below, but you could do a lot of miles on this engine without life becoming rude.

The D-Max handles tidily for a double-cab, too. Its steering is free of vices and while body roll is there, it’s controlled and predictable. We drove the vehicle with no more than light loads in the back, certainly nothing like enough to influence the springs’ performance significantly, but the wayward bouncing that used to be a pick-up keynote was as good as negligible.

For an entertaining drive in a double-cab, we’d choose a manual every time. However even in this form the D-Max can be hustled through corners with enough zest to put a smile on your face and not enough wallowing to wipe it back off again. Its ride quality is perfectly acceptable, too, with no sign of this model’s 60-profile tyres letting through any more patter or harshness than you’d expect anyway in a one-tonner.


We certainly wouldn’t choose a 255/60R18 fitment for off-road work. If you’re serious about getting your D-Max the way you want it, however, less elevated models than this run on 245/70R16s – still not what you’d call a common idea of the perfect rubber for all-terrain efforts, but evidence that you can get a 16” rim around Isuzu’s brakes, which of course opens up a world of options in the tread pattern of your choice. Lift it a little, for example, and you could be running a D-Max on 235/85R16s.

But before you do that, make sure you know how capable it is in standard form – because unless you really do have tough stuff in mind, as it comes out of the showroom the D-Max is one of the most agile and tractable trucks there is. We’d like to see a locking rear diff at least on the options list, but even without this the vehicle is very sure-footed over uneven terrain and side slopes. With low box engaged, once again the smaller engine makes no apparent difference. Whether the 1.9-litre unit is as effective in the most torque-sapping conditions is something we can’t yet say, but long, steep hills don’t faze it so long as the traction is there.


A sound, tax-efficient ownership proposition is at the heart of the pick-up market, and the D-Max has ridden that fact to success. The new engine means lower emissions and fuel costs, so we don’t see that changing – even if it’s not quite as refined as before, even in this topspec Blade form. What you get here is a handsome truck with plenty of kit, real built-in ability and a price which, at £27,999 plus the VAT, undercuts many of its similarly equipped rivals.

You also get a hefty looking warranty covering you for five years or 125,000 miles, and if your annual mileage is 6000 or less you’ll only need to take it in for a service every couple of years. With Isuzu’s traditionally solid build quality behind it, all this points to a truck which, even if it’s not the most just-so you can buy, ought to last and last. Our one concern would be if the engine’s working as hard as it sounds at times, as it’s the unknown quantity in the equation – but if that warranty isn’t an example of a car manufacturer putting its money where its mouth is, we don’t know what is.

Ssangyong Korando

Once seen as a byword for crumminess, Ssangyong is making huge leaps forward with every new model it brings out. The 2017 Korando is a final facelift for a vehicle that’s been around for half a decade – but even this might surprise you if you still assume the Korean 4×4 specialist is stuck in the last century.

As facelifts go, it’s a mild one. The front-end styling has been revised to bring it into line with more recently introduced members of the Ssangyong family, and there are new designs for the alloys and steering wheel.

Yet the difference between this vehicle and the last Korando we drove (way back in 2011 when it had just arrived in the UK) suggests not a mild tickle-up but a quantum leap forward. There’s been some evolutionary change during that time, not to mention the arrival of a far superior diesel engine, but the improvement is still startling.

In the cabin, the dash plastics have just enough texture to feel pleasing and it doesn’t creak, groan or squirm when you lean on it. The new steering wheel feels good in your hands, and the controls it carries are clear and unfussy.

That goes for the whole of the cabin. Finding the button you want is always easy, as is operating the infotainment system – and so too is getting a comfortable driving position, thanks to a seat with a huge range of adjustment. If you’re used to sliding it as far back as possible in whatever car you drive, first time you get in one of these you might find yourself sitting too far from the wheel.

Stowage is generous, too, with a big glovebox and cubby as well as two useful bins in the centre stack and floor console. It all adds to the feeling of this being a vehicle you can use without having to fuss about anything being awkward.

In the back, you’d have to be sitting behind someone pretty immense not to have enough knee room. Again, it’s easy to get comfortable – and if you’re carrying cargo rather than people, the 60:40 rear seats fold flat with a light and easy one-shot action to create a floor that’s as long as possible and as good as completely flat. There are more recent arrivals on the SUV scene that don’t come close to being as good – especially as the lip at the back is nice and low.

The Korando we tested was the range-topping ELX model, whose already high standard kit list is augmented by leather and heated front and rear seats. For those in the back to get that luxury remains unusual even on a premium vehicle, so it’s an impressive touch – as is the fact that the leather itself feels like leather, not plastic.

Other kit on this model includes a heated steering wheel, front and rear parking sensors with a rearview camera, sat-nav, Bluetooth, a 7” touch screen and 225/55R18 tyres on diamond-cut alloys. Plenty of good stuff for your money, then.

Those big rims do bode ill for ride quality, however. And when you pilot the Korando across the sort of broken surfaces we have to endure all too often in the UK, things do at times verge on the crashy. There’s a certain amount of vibration through the drivetrain, too, so refinement is hardly its strongest point.

Overall, however, for what is ultimately a budget vehicle the Korando drives very acceptably. More than that, in fact, it can be quite enjoyable to hustle through corners – and the 2.2-litre engine has no shortage at all of shove.

Mated to the optional automatic gearbox, a six-speed Aisin unit adding £1125 to the price of the car, the engine is quite vocal but, more than that, very willing to get you moving. It doesn’t take off like a scalded cat when you floor it from the lights, but it builds speed steadily – and we found that for overtaking moves in the 30-45mph band, it’s very effective indeed. Waiting patiently for the national speed limit sign to arrive as we exited a village on the test route, we banged in the throttle and, for a moment, had to check to see that we hadn’t accidentally driven off in someone’s V8 instead.

Not all versions of the Korando have four-wheel drive, but all the versions we’re interested in do. To this end, you can add £1500 to any ‘prices from’ stuff you see about it, though the ELX model tested here comes as standard in 4×4 form.

This helps add peace of mind to a 2000kg towing limit, and while it’s no Rexton off-road the Korando does have a good degree of capability. Obviously, ground clearance will be a limiting factor, and you wouldn’t choose such low-profi le tyres for this kind of work either, but the engine’s torque supply is admirably suited to hauling it up steep hills from tickover, even without the benefit of low box.

Something else it doesn’t have is hill descent control, and even with fi rst gear selected manually on the auto box it was necessary to use cadence braking to avoid a runaway ride. For this reason, we’d say the Korando could be a viable choice if you need something to use regularly on sandy or gravelly terrain, but mud, ruts and slippery hills are less likely to suit it.

Overall, this is a very credible SUV. Without laying it on thick, it ticks almost every basic box, and while it does feel a little last-generation in places it’s certainly not last-century – and for Ssangyong, that really does represent a step forward on the path it’s taking from joke brand through also-run and left-field choice to part of the mainstream. It’s well on the way. Certainly, it’s still a left-field choice, with low prices – and a five-year, unlimited mileage warranty, don’t let’s forget – key to what it offers.

Ssangyong dealers don’t offer the sort of discounts some of its rivals’ do, however. That helps bring some excellent cars closer to the £23,500 on this car’s screen – and when you factor in the likely effect of depreciation, and of the relatively high emissions the 2.2-litre engine produces, it’s less cut and dried.

But as it was with Hyundai and Kia, Ssanygong is moving from a price-based offering to one that leads with its products.The Korando has made up ground during its time – and though this fi nal facelift is a mild one, it helps suggest that when the next model comes along, it will represent another quantum leap forward. For now, it’s a better bet than ever.

Nissan adds Parrot camera craft as £500 upgrade option

Nissan Drone

If you’re buying a Nissan X-Trail any time soon, you’ll be in line for a very modern sort of upgrade pack. That’s because a limited edition of 200 N-Vision and Tekna models are currently available for upgrading to X-Scape trim – complete with their very own drone.

For £500, X-Trail customers will get a camera-carrying Parrot Bebop 2 with First Person View functionality, ‘follow me’ GPS and visual tracking and a 14 megapixel onboard video camera – allowing you to take still or moving pictures
of your on-board adventures. Weighing in at a tidy 500g, the Nissan-branded drone has a digitally stabilised camera and comes with a headset and remote control. It can be used to deliver a live feed to the car or to immortalise your
exploits forever; a 25-minute flight time means you won’t be able to do full coverage of a trip over the Wayfarer, but for highlights of a suitable day on the trails it’s got what you need to make yourself look like a proper hero.

Of course, you don’t need to be aboard your X-Trail for the drone to film you taming the great outdoors. It can follow you autonomously in all sorts of situations – on foot, bicycle, canoe or skateboard, suggests Nissan. Or aboard an old Patrol or Terrano at your favourite quarry? We’re sure they just forgot to mention that.

Nissan dealers have 200 up for grabs, but you do need to be buying a new X-Trail N-Vision or Tekna first. Not what we’d call a hardship.

Renault’s fl agship SUV ready to hit the road this summer


Renault has opened the order book on its new Koleos, which will hit the road in the UK later this summer. Priced from £30,400 in 4×4 form (front-wheel drive models start at £27,500), the vehicle revives a name which first appeared on an X-Trail based SUV in 2008. When it was new, the original Koleos swept all before it to take the 4×4 of the Year title awarded by Planet 4×4, one of this magazine’s forebears. It failed to establish itself in the UK market, however, becoming one of the models smothered at birth when the credit crunch pulled the rug from under new vehicle sales.

Like the previous model, this Koleos is a D-segment SUV built on a shared Renault-Nissan Alliance platform. It’s powered by a 2.0dCi turbo-diesel delivering 175bhp and powering all four wheels via a choice of manual and auto boxes; as with the current X-Trail, a 1.6dCi unit it also available, however in the Koleos this will be limited to 2wd models only.

An initial range of two trim levels will feature Bluetooth, sat-nav, Apple CarPlay and 18” alloys across the board, with leather, heated seats, LED headlamps, 19” rims, an 8.7” tablet-style interface and a powered tailgate on higher-spec models. All come as standard with an appropriately high level of safety kit, though unlike the X-Trail there’s no seven-seat option – Renault says that during development, ‘exceptional interior space for five occupants was a main focus’.

As with the previous model, whose practicality was key to its success, 1690 litres of cargo space suggests it will be as roomy for kit as it is for people. Even with the seats up, the Koleos will still swallow 458 litres – and models
with the manual gearbox will be able to pull a 2000kg trailer.

With options like ventilated seats, hands-free parking, high-line Bose audio and brown or grey leather options, the Koleos will have plenty of premium features to go with its family-first utility approach. Being so closely related
to the excellent X-Trail will do it no harm, too, whether on or off-road – and with even the top-spec 4×4 model costing a relatively modest £32,700 in manual form, this time Renault’s SUV fl agship should do a far better job of establishing a foothold in the British market.


Seat has been making waves since entering the SUV market last year with the Ateca. And the Spanish manufacturer,
so well known for putting a sporty twist on everything parent company Volkswagen does, is shortly to open the order books for a new FR model – adding unique bumpers, alloys, spoilers and more to put more funk into its image.

The FR will be available with a choice of four engines, three of which will drive all four wheels as standard. These are the 2.0 TDI 150, which comes with a manual box and can return a claimed 55.4mpg, and the 2.0 TSI 190 and 2.0 TDI 190, both of which have seven-speed autos and get the car up to speed in less than eight seconds without going overboard on fuel themselves.

Inside, sports seats help cement the image created by the FR’s more aggressive looks, and a drive mode dial allows you to trim the vehicle’s handling to suit your mood – or indeed to get it ready for a journey off the beaten track.

Prices range from £28,410 for the 2.0 TDI 150 and climb to £30,930 for the 2.0 TSI 190, with orders opening on 3 July.

New name for Skoda’s small SUV • Practicality highlights retained


Skoda has unveiled the Karoq – its new five-seat SUV which will replace the Yeti this autumn. Once again based on the Volkswagen Tiguan, as is the outstanding new seven-seat Kodiaq which will sit above it in Skoda’s 4×4 range, this promises to replicate its ultrasuccessful formula by offering exceptional interior space and flexibility.

Technical specifications for UK models are yet to be confirmed, however the range-topping 2.0 TDI 190 model will feature all-wheel drive as standard. Most other versions will offer a drive mode palette including a ‘snow’ position, and as with the Yeti you’ll be able to specify 4×4 models with an ‘Off-Road’ button and Rough Road protection package.

Also similar to the Yeti is a cabin with three separate rear seats, each of which can be adjusted, slid, folded or removed – allowing a cargo capacity of up to 1810 litres. The front passenger’s seat can fold, too, to let the vehicle carry extra long items.

In these ways, Skoda will present the Karoq as an all-new car doing the same things that made the Yeti (the overall winner in our 4×4 of the 2010 awards) one of the very best vehicles of its era. Naturally, like the Kodiaq it will come with the latest in safety and connectivity, which means phone pairing and an on-board wifi hotspot to go with
features like active lane keeping and autonomous emergency braking. Front and rear lights will be LEDs, too – as will a programmable suite of mood lights inside with a choice of ten colours.

Prices for the Karoq will be announced nearer to its UK market launch, which is expected to happen in October. The Yeti continues to remain comfortably below the £30k barrier, however, even at the very top of its current range, and
with the need to keep clear space between it and the similarly good value Kodiaq it’s reasonable to assume that the company will be aiming to keep it there.