So, is what we have here the contemporary Octavia RS? Dynamically, not quite, but in spirit, very much. That car, Skoda’s sports wagon, has earned a popular following, but like most wagons, popularity for sedans and estates is waning toward high-riding wagons and crossovers. Thus it was only a matter of time until Skoda whacked an RS badge on an SUV, and we quite like it.
Building on the Kodiaq 140TDI, the RS pumps up output from its 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel engine to claim the position as the most powerful SUV in the Czech brand’s lineup. It’s doesn’t want much for dynamic performance either, fitted with sportier adaptive dampers and springs, bigger brakes, larger alloys with a wider 235mm footprint and tuned computer mapping that sharpens behaviour. Then on top of that, you get a lot of other extra goodies, including the unique RS bumpers front and rear and big S K O D A lettering across the tailgate, much bolder than the small winged arrow badge.
What does the Skoda Kodiaq RS cost and what do you get?
It costs $65,990 plus on-road costs/$71,990 driveaway, which is getting up there for what we normally expect from a Skoda. The short of it is that things like a head up display and automatic highbeams are about the only thing missing that you might find standard in some competitors. They would be luxury mid-size SUVs from the likes of Lexus, BMW, Audi, and Volkswagen…. Though keep in mind that the Kodiaq shoehorns an extra row in the back – so it also competes against cars like the Mazda CX-9 in top-spec Azami trim.
For the money, you do get some good gear, like a suede and leather trim interior with carbon-fibre-look elements, automatic parking assist with 360-degree birdseye view camera, heated rear and front seats with electric adjustment, large 9.2-inch infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Canton sound system, wireless phone charging, triple-zone climate control, digital driver’s display, adaptive dampers, 20-inch black alloys, LED headlights and foglamps with cornering function, automatic headlights and wipers, and an electric tailgate.
On top of this is a suite of electronic driver aids and safety systems required for a five-star ANCAP rating in 2020.
What’s the Skoda Kodiaq RS interior like?
It’s as sporty as the Octavia RS inside, the seats finished in Alcantara-like suede with a diamond-stitch pattern and leather bolstering on the sides. The steering wheel is the same, with a very sporty grip (that’s comfortable too) and paddle shifters mounted behind the three and nine o’clock positions. The presentation of the two screens is very slick, the central infotainment bright and easy to read with sharp graphics, while the driver’s display replaces traditional dials with a screen. The latter can show additional information to the infotainment like 3D maps and multimedia. It can also change the layout so that the tachometer is centred to look a bit sportier. And at night time the cabin feels nice with ambient lighting hidden around the interior’s hipline piping.
We really like the simplicity of Skoda’s infotainment system which is taken from parent company Volkswagen Group’s stock. Apple CarPlay works flawlessly and the system is just easy to use. About the only noticeable difference to that of a luxury brand is the lack of a rotary control dial for commanding the system, meaning you must use the touchscreen.
For convenience there is three-way climate control, including a humidity sensor and pollen filter. The seat heating works very well, including on the second row, and the climate control on auto mode doesn’t actually need any tweaking, unlike most.
How much space is there in the Skoda Kodiaq RS?
It’s a big cabin so you won’t be miffed for room inside, even with a hoard of kids. About the only row that doesn’t measure up to the best in the segment is the third-row, which is more an occasional-use row (or for little kids only). Otherwise, there’s plenty of knee, head and legroom in both first and second rows.
Plenty of storage pockets and trays come in useful for storing things like iPads and phones (there’s also a wireless tray that the phone doesn’t easily slip out of) and most are close to a USB port.
And as we’ve come to expect from a Skoda, there are some simply clever additions, like umbrellas in the doors when you open them, a torch with charging mount in the boot, a cargo net, and adjustable cup holders. The boot space measures 630-litres with five seats in use – nice and big – or 230L with all seven rows up, accessed via an electric opening and closing tailgate. The design of the latter lets you open it up when you’re parked close to a wall.
What engine is in the Skoda Kodiaq RS?
The meat of drivetrain is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder twin-turbo diesel engine mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and all-wheel driveline. Despite declining sales across passenger cars for diesel donks there’s no reason to be nonplussed with this unit, as it’s silky smooth and a few wouldn’t even pick it for a diesel when you turn the motor over.
Power peaks at 176kW at 4000rpm, with a grunty 500Nm of torque surging from 1750rpm to 2500rpm, though it remains lively until about 4000rpm. There’s a bit of a note form the exhaust too, though inside the cabin the sound from the ‘Sound Symposer’ system (exhaust sounds artificially produced through the speakers) leaves a bit to be desired. So we turned that off, and enjoyed the subtle but thrummy sound from outside.
Performance is strong though not blistering quick, with an official 0-100km/h time recorded at 6.9 seconds. Where it shines is in city traffic zip, country highway overtaking, and efficient cruising, recording real-world figures of under 7.0L/100km in our testing over a week.
Is the Skoda Kodiaq RS good to drive?
So the Kodiaq looks like a pretty sporty SUV, but it’s actually much more of an all-rounder to drive on the road.
That’s not to say that it isn’t fun to wrangle around corners when the opportunity arises, with the paddle shifters adding engagement and rapid downshifts from the seven-speed auto and the diesel engine admirably playing along with what you need from it. The all-wheel drive system can shuffle up to 85 per cent torque from wheel to wheel so it feels well planted around corners despite that hefty 1858kg mass wanting to roll about. The steering is pointy too and you can feel the throttle response becomes livelier in sport mode, along with firm but composed suspension response via stiffer dampening. All up, it’s good fun, but let’s keep in mind this is a seven-seat SUV more than it is a powerhouse of performance.
So to keep it enjoyable to all of the family are more relaxed driving modes, including eco and normal, but most notably comfort setting. This adds another layer of comfort to the dampers over the normal setting which can remain a touch firm on edges such as tram tracks and potholes. Comfort wallows a little at the rear but proved to be one of the better rides we’ve experienced in a large medium-large SUV on the prescribed drive route that we use. It showed good performance both unladen and with a few bodies onboard, really helping soften the thin 235/45 Continental tyres rolling on those big rims. Road noise was also well dampened, meaning a comfortable ride when cruising. In comfort mode, the engine is easy and calm too, though you can plant it to kick back a gear and overtake with a little subtle rumble from the engine.
The Skoda Kodiaq scored a five-star ANCAP safety rating in 2017.
The Kodiaq RS has nine airbags – front, driver’s knee, front and rear side, and curtain. Standard advanced safety technology includes AEB, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, blind spot monitoring, emergency assist and rear traffic alert.
The bottom line:
It’s not quite as hot to drive as its looks suggest, but as a competitor to threaten some premium rivals, the Kodiaq RS excels as a strong all-rounder.