The Kodiaq gets the RS treatment. But is it worthy of this badge that it proudly flaunts?
The Skoda Kodiaq is a full-size SUV with a high dose of practicality and clever features. And, despite its size and proportions, it drives surprisingly well. The 2.0-litre diesel that it comes with has a good mid-range and is just right for daily use. It even handles well for a car that is big and heavy. But, still, sometimes you wish that the engine could be a bit more energetic. It leaves you wanting more. And if all this sounds familiar, then don’t worry, Skoda has come up with the answer – and it’s called the Kodiaq RS.
This one isn’t just a rebadged, sportier looking variant of the Kodiaq though. This is the real deal! The Kodiaq RS lapped the 20.8km Nurburgring Nordschleife circuit in just 9:29.84 minutes – making it the fastest production 7-seat SUV around the circuit. It’s a family car with enthusiastic aspirations. But can it perform equally well on both fronts?
Devil’s in the details
The Kodiaq RS doesn’t look very different from the standard model, at least in its overall design. Skoda has managed to give it a sporty appearance by adding some new elements, like the new 20-inch alloy wheels, red brake callipers, sportier looking bumpers and gloss black bits all around. The RS badges on the front grille and on the tailgate make its performance aspirations clear. Just like the Octavia RS, Skoda has done well to ensure that the Kodiaq RS exudes sportiness and aggressiveness, but without undergoing too many changes in its overall design.
Sporty & spacious
Much of the interior remains unchanged. The layout of the dash is identical to the standard version, with the vertically stacked air-con vents, climate control knobs and touchscreen taking centre stage. It’s the choice of materials used that sets the Kodiaq RS apart.
In comparison to the standard model, the RS gets an all-black interior. The face of the dashboard, including the upper glove box, gets a faux carbon fibre finish, and the flat-bottom steering wheel gets perforated leather with contrasting stitching.
To suit the nature of the car, there are sport seats up front that proudly wear the RS badge. The Alcantara seats look dapper and are equally snug and supportive. All the changes made to the interior add an air of sportiness and exclusivity to the RS’s cabin. What’s interesting is that the Kodiaq RS continues to have the same space and practicality in the cabin as before.
In terms of features and equipment, the RS gets all the clever bits that we’ve seen on the Kodiaq, including the door protectors, detachable boot light and snooze pillows for the second-row passengers. Just like the Kodiaq L&K, it too comes with an all-digital instrument cluster.
Two to Tango
At its heart, the RS still comes with the same 2.0-litre diesel motor. But now the motor makes 236 horses and 500Nm. That’s nearly 90bhp and 160Nm more than the standard car. Skoda has managed to extract all of this additional power and torque by fitting the engine with two turbochargers. This certainly ups the performance of the Kodiaq RS, but, still, it isn’t exceedingly fast. It’s certainly not as fast as a V6 powered SUV.
With its max torque kicking in as low as 1,750rpm, the car pulls ahead with an eagerness that easily masks the size of the car. The acceleration won’t push you back into the seat, but the ease with which it gains momentum will require you to keep an eye on the speedo – full credit to the refinement of the motor and the slick shifting DSG transmission.
The Kodiaq RS comes with different driving modes – Eco, Comfort, Normal, Sport, Individual and Snow. In Eco and Comfort modes, the engine remains rather quiet. Switch to Sport or Individual, and you’ll hear a sweet burble like that of a V8. Skoda calls this the Dynamic Boost System. This system is more or less like what you’ve got in some sportscars where the sound from the exhaust is amplified into the cabin using the car’s speaker system. The primary difference here, however, is that the sound is pretty much manufactured. Nevertheless, it is quite addictive and will lure you into digging your right foot deeper.
The real highlight of the Kodiaq RS is the way it attacks corners. All the technological wizardry, like the Dynamic Chassis Control and the progressive steering, play their part in offering supreme confidence around corners. In fact, during our test drive, the car remained stable and turned-in sharply without much drama at high speeds – even as the rain came down.
The steering weighs up as you go faster. Body roll is well contained, especially for a car this big and tall. The standard Kodiaq is already impressive in terms of handling, but the RS takes it a notch further. The near-perfect roads around Prague weren’t the ideal conditions to judge the car’s ride quality, but, given the stiff suspension setup, we expect it to be a little harsh for passengers.
Worth the RS badge?
Well, honestly, the Kodiaq RS is unlike any other offering Skoda has had on sale in the past. It’s their first SUV to wear the RS insignia, and it comes with a diesel heart. In the Kodiaq RS, Skoda has managed to add that crucial fun factor to a practical SUV – a formula that’s sure to be appreciated by a lot of enthusiasts. The only problem is that Skoda is uncertain about bringing it to India, especially because it will demand a premium over the Kodiaq L&K and that will make it quite an expensive offering. But we can always hope, can’t we?
- Skoda Kodiaq RS
Engine: 1,968cc / 4-cylinder / twin-turbo
Transmission: 7-Speed Automatic / All-wheel Drive
Power: 236bhp @ 4,000rpm
Torque: 500Nm @ 1,750-2,500rpm
X-Factor: Practical and quick, the Kodiaq RS will certainly find appreciation from a lot of Indian buyers – if Skoda decides to bring it here, that is.