- Punchy yet efficient drivetrain
- Excellent cabin quality and practicality
- Fun yet comfortable to drive
- Regular Kodiaqs are much better value
- Third row of seats isn't huge
- A petrol engine would be even more fun
The 2020 Skoda Kodiaq RS is a peculiar car. After initially being denied for Australia, the local Skoda branch was able to launch it here earlier this year. It has been touted as the fastest seven-seat vehicle around the famed Nurburgring racetrack in Germany, but how does it fare in the real world; in Aussie suburbia with some kids in the back and with a full boot of groceries?
Join us as we see whether a family focussed seven-seat diesel SUV can indeed be the perfect blend of driving thrills and practicality, and whether the most expensive Skoda ever sold in Australia can still uphold the brand’s promise of offering exemplary value.
Price and Equipment: 7/10
The Kodiaq RS sits right at the top of the Kodiaq range and is not only the most expensive Kodiaq on offer, it is also the most expensive Skoda on sale. Size wise, it’s Skoda’s largest SUV, sitting above both the pint-sized Kamiq and the mid-size Karoq. Prior to on-road costs, the Kodiaq RS will set you back $65,990 (officially $71,990 drive away), or about $12,000 more than the lesser 132TSI Sportline.
Outside, you’ll find the Kodiaq RS’s bespoke ‘XTREME’ 20-inch alloy wheels (which are complimented by adaptive dampers), red painted brake calipers attached to larger brakes, auto LED headlights/wipers and sporty looking front and rear bumpers with RS badges dotted around the car, to show the world that this is no ordinary Kodiaq.
Inside, Skoda has given the Kodiaq RS some exceptionally cosseting leather-and-Alcantara electrically powered (with memory as well) and heated front sports seats with memory, heated seats in the second row, keyless entry and start, a power tailgate with kick-to-open functionality, tri-zone climate control, a 9.2-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, satellite navigation, digital radio, a 360-degree parking camera with front and rear sensors, auto parking, wireless phone charging in the centre console, digital dials and a specially tuned Canton sound system.
Order an MY21 Kodiaq RS and you also get the panoramic sunroof that’s optional for MY20 models, as well as wireless Apple CarPlay and new steering wheel design.
Safety equipment is taken care of by nine airbags, low- and high-speed automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, rear auto braking, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, driver attention alert and more.
What is the Kodiaq RS missing? Not much really – a heads-up display would be nice, as would Matrix headlights. Only one USB port in the whole car is also meh for a family car – especially with the new Kamiq has two front and two rear USB C charging ports, as well as a 12V socket and a wireless charger.
It’s hard to find a competitor for the Kodiaq RS. In-house competition includes the Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace 162TSI, though it’s less powerful. There are higher-end versions of the Kia Sorento, Hyundai Santa Fe and Mazda CX-8, though they don’t have the sporty focus of the RS. Perhaps the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Volvo XC60 or Mercedes-Benz GLC would fit the bill, though for more money and with two less seats.
Engine and Fuel Consumption 8.5/10
Skoda shocked when they announced that the 2020 Skoda Kodiaq RS was to be powered by a diesel engine. Whilst the words “performance”, “SUV” and “diesel” seldom appear in one sentence, the drivetrain in the Kodiaq RS performs exceptionally well, offering the best performance of the entire Kodiaq range. The diesel engine produces a very healthy 176kW of power and 500Nm of torque and is the most powerful Skoda diesel ever made. It is based on the EA288 diesel found in other VW Group vehicles and been thoroughly revised to feature a clever bi-turbo series of turbochargers which work together to both decrease low end turbo lag and improve high end shove past 2,500rpm.
On the road, the engine feels punchy and sends its power to all four wheels through the Volkswagen Group’s 4-Motion AWD system and a 7-speed wet-clutch DSG gearbox. The DSG offers fast gear changes when driving spiritedly, whilst still offering smooth gearshifts and launches around town – this ‘high torque’ version is much smoother than in cheaper VAG products. As with most diesels, the torque under foot is pretty strong, with the Kodiaq RS effortlessly gaining speed. Whilst it won’t win any drag races with a 7.0 second print time from 0–100km/h sprint, its in gear performance always feels plentiful.
The engine is also pretty refined in the Comfort and Normal drive modes and comes alive in Sport where Dynamic Sound Boost enhancer amplifies the exhaust tune to something akin of a five-cylinder Audi rally car.
One of the advantages of having a diesel engine is that the 2020 Kodiaq RS easily returns sixes on the highway and managed to use a very respectable 9L per 100km in purely city driving. Given its 6.2L per 100km combined claim, it’s clear that the diesel engine is instrumental in ensuring impeccable economy and running costs.
Ride and Handling: 8/10
For a big car cable of seating seven rather comfortably, and weighing almost 2 tonnes, the Kodiaq RS handles corners very nicely. The adaptive dampers really help here, along with the quality Continental tyres, in making the Kodiaq RS feel like a smaller car. The steering is relatively sharp though it doesn’t offer the last word in feel. Few SUVs at this price point are able to match the Kodiaq RS however for on road prowess. Rivals like the Renault Koleos trail it substantially, whilst the Mazda CX-9 feels more focused on comfort and refinement.
Getting on the power through curves also shows an exceptional AWD system which is capable of shuffling power around all four wheels to reduce understeer, giving the Kodiaq a sure-footed feel. During a brief stint on a gravel road, the large Skoda accelerated cleanly, steered well and stopped much better than expected. Just don’t expect to go off the beaten track too much however as the Kodiaq RS is certainly no Jeep Wrangler or Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Interior and Practicality: 9.5/10
This is the area where the large Skoda really gets ahead of the competition, both in terms of interior quality and functionality. The level of sophistication of both fronts is truly hard to find amongst its rivals. Some manufacturers might do the occasional thing better here or there, but as a whole package, the Kodiaq’s interior is one of the best in any non-premium SUV.
Whilst the design might seem slightly plain and uninspiring at first, the interior quickly starts to shows its talents, giving a solid, well built impression. The suede and leather trim gives the Kodiaq RS a slight sporting feel to its otherwise utilitarian nature. Paddle shifters are mounted behind the three and nine o’clock positions. When night time falls, the cabin feels upmarket with tasteful ambient lighting livening up the darkness with its customisable colours.
Skoda has done an exceptional job with the Kodiaq’s two interior screens. The large and intuitive central infotainment screen comes in at 9.2-inches and is bright with sharp graphics. The digital dials look outstanding, offering full customisation and exceptional clarity.
Up front there are acres of space to stretch out on long journeys, with exceptionally well sculpted and comfortable sports seats. The driving position isn’t exactly low slung, but compared to other SUVs, it feels downright sporty. The front seats are separated by a wide centre console which is also found on the smaller Skoda Karoq. The attention to detail given some thing as simple as the front armrest is exceptional. It slides backwards and forwards, and is even height adjustable to give those up front the most comfortable position possible. It also hides a large storage underneath it from prying eyes. The door pockets can hold large bottles and are lined with felt to stop loose items from rattling around.
The second row works exceptionally well, with loads of head and knee room for even tall adults. Second row passengers are looked after with sun blinds, air conditioning controls with air vents, large bottle holders and full adjustable seats which slide fore/aft and can be reclined on longer journeys. Skoda has even thought about those who take naps in cars; the rear headrests can be shaped to keep your head upright should you doze off. Brilliant!
Other touches include umbrellas in the doors when you open them, a self-charging torch in the boot and more cargo nets than a fishing boat. A blanket for the kids is even kept tucked away in the boot.
The third row is better suited to children, with adequate room for teenagers or smaller adults. Headroom in the third row is limited and the two third row seats are not designed for turning the Kodiaq RS into a seven-seat people mover on a daily basis. Thankfully, the curtain airbags do extend the length of the car, though some air vents in the third row would very much be appreciated.
The boot is practical, and is accessed through an electrically-operated tail gate. Boot space measures in at a large 630-litres with five seats in use, or 230-litres with all seven seats in use – a Santa Fe only managed 547-litres of cargo space with five seats in use. To fit as much as possible into the Skoda Kodiaq RS, folding the second-row creates a cavernous 2,005-litres of space versus the Santa Fe’s 1,625-litres.
Warranty and Ownership: 9/10
All new Skodas locally are backed by a solid five year/unlimited kilometre warranty with servicing scheduled at 12-month/15,000km intervals.
Forever the brand with pragmatists at heart and those seeking the best value, Skoda offers three-year (45,000km) and five-year (70,000km) upfront capped price servicing plans at $900 and $1700 respectively.
2020 Skoda Kodiaq RS DiscoverAuto Rating: 8.4
It might not be the sportiest SUV on the market, but it balances its extra performance with being an exceptional 7 seat SUV for the family, much like any Skoda Kodiaq for that matter The 2020 Skoda Kodiaq RS is certainly a far cry from a fire breathing, track ready car, but it excels at blending frugality with athleticism and all round goodness.
With seven seats, plenty of equipment and just the right amount of driving thrills to keep keener drivers happy, the Kodiaq RS ticks plenty of boxes. We were however left with one burning question. Does the Kodiaq RS justify its higher price over the already excellent Kodiaq 132TSI model? We weren’t entirely sure, as the cheaper 132TSI is already excellent. Having said this, here at DiscoverAuto, we’re fans of all Skoda Kodiaq variants, and we would happily continue to recommend the Skoda Kodiaq RS as an exceptionally fun, frugal and practical family SUV.