SKODA is full of surprises.

Whether it is slightly being leftfield, for example with the Roomster or Yeti, providing a luxurious big car ride – that will be the aptly named Superb - or delivering thrills with the Octavia vRS or simple excellence with the Fabia and Citygo hatchbacks it has matured into a desirable brand.

You can now add to the list the Kodiaq, which is not only the best all-rounder ever to wear the Skoda badge but also a hot contender for the best new car of 2017.

It is Skoda’s first seven-seater SUV and what a magnificent seven it is, combining dramatic looks with trademark practicality, space and innovation.

Built on the Volkswagen Group’s modular transverse matrix platform, the Kodiaq is 4,697mm long, 1,882mm wide and 1,676mm tall and has a wheelbase of 2,791mm.

Putting these statistics aside, one of the key features of the Kodiaq is that it offers a larger-than-average interior for the SUV segment, providing bags of headroom, elbow room and space to stretch your legs. In addition, the middle seat row can be folded 60:40, features individually adjustable backrests and can slide lengthways by 180mm.

The third row of seats can be folded neatly into the floor space to create a larger load area. And with a volume of 720 to 2,065 litres, you get the largest boot in its class.

Now for the clever bits that make life on board even easier…

These include a new door-edge protection system that deploys automatically when opening the door. When shutting the door, the trim folds itself back in. In total, more than 30 of what Skoda calls its Simply Clever features have been integrated, seven of which are new.

The Kodiaq is also available with the broadest range of driver assistance systems ever offered in a Skoda, including trailer assist and surround-view cameras.

There’s a choice of five engines; three petrol and two diesel. Power outputs range from 125PS to 190PS, with customers able to choose between two or four-wheel drive and manual or DSG transmissions.

The petrol line-up consists of two 1.4 TSI units, one with an output of 125PS and another with 150PS and active cylinder technology.

I tested the 150PS version and found it to be an excellent unit in all but more challenging situations, such as steep hills. You will not get the same sort of performance offered by some rivals but you will get a comfortable and quiet ride.

The 125PS unit is available in two-wheel drive manual form only, while the 150PS version can be specified with a manual 4x4 transmission, two-wheel drive DSG and 4x4 DSG. My advice would be to avoid the smaller engine.

The range-topping 2.0 TSI petrol unit delivers 180PS and drives through a seven-speed DSG 4x4 transmission. The diesel line-up features a pair of 2.0 TDI units with outputs of 150PS and 190PS. The 150PS version can be specified with a manual 4x4 transmission, two-wheel drive DSG and 4x4 DSG, while the 190PS unit is fitted with a seven-speed DSG 4x4 transmission only.

All models are equipped with LED daytime running lights, alloy wheels, leather multifunction steering wheel, air-conditioning, DAB digital radio and touchscreen infotainment systems.

The high-quality workmanship and easy-to-use operation are typical Skoda touches, as are the large circular instruments and dials.

The clever motorist looking for a large SUV would do well to put the Kodiaq at the top of a shopping list.