The Skoda Kodiaq RS is the angriest Kodiaq money can buy. But you can't get one yet - it doesn't land in Australia until 2020. Luckily, Skoda smuggled one into Australia for us drive... at a race track.
Fastest seven-seater around the Nürburgring Norschileffe. Most powerful diesel engine in the Skoda armory. Umbrellas in the doors. Three rows of seats. Is there anything the new Skoda Kodiaq RS can’t do? Yes: it can’t be here in Australia right now.
That’s right, the Kodiaq RS doesn’t arrive locally until March 2020, but luckily Skoda arranged for an overseas version to be brought into the country for us to drive… at a race track.
So, while we can’t tell you what it’s like to pilot on Australian roads, we can tell you what the Kodiaq RS is like to belt around a track… and whole lot more.
Here’s what we know so far in this special preview drive of the Kodiaq RS.
Skoda KODIAQ 2020: 176 TDI RS (4x4)
Premium Unleaded Petrol
Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with? 8/10
The Skoda Kodiaq RS is expected to arrive in Australia in March 2020 and will have a list price of $65,990, before on-road costs, which is $14,500 more than the Sportline grade below it.
At the time this review was published Skoda had yet to finalise the full standard features list but it will include: a 9.2-inch screen, fully digital instrument cluster, paddle shifters, three-zone climate control, wireless charging, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, digital radio, drive mode selection, adaptive chassis control, auto tailgate (with kick open function), proximity unlocking, leather and Alcantara seats, front and rear heated seats, auto parking, adaptive cruise control, LED headlights and a 360-degree camera.
The 9.2-inch screen comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus digital radio.
The instrument cluster behind the steering wheel is fully digital.
Without even seeing the rest of the features it’s clear the Kodiaq RS is good value. There are prestige cars with half this amount of equipment at twice the price.
Is there anything interesting about its design? 8/10
I’m on the record (in my Kodiaq Sportline review) saying the Kodiaq is the best-looking Skoda, with its stance, blacked-out cheesy smile grille and paper-fold sharp creases .
And the RS toughens up the look further. There’s the same grille as the Sportline, but an RS-specific front bumper, side skirts, 20-inch alloy wheels with red brake calipers at the front, and dual exhaust.
Sitting behind the 20-inch alloy wheels are a pair of red brake calipers.
The Kodiaq RS’s interior features leather and Alcantara seats with a quilted pattern and RS badging, an RS steering wheel, and the digital instrument cluster has a carbon effect.
Inside features an RS steering whee,l plus leather and Alcantara seats with a quilted pattern.
The Kodiaq RS’s dimensions are 4699mm long, 1882mm wide (2087mm with mirrors) and 1664mm tall.
Some people may call it a large SUV but the Kodiaq RS is more than 300mm shorter than a Mazda CX-9 and only 100mm longer than a Toyota RAV4. Really, it’s in the Goldilocks zone between large and medium, which will suit many families perfectly.
The RS toughens up the Kodiaq with RS-specific side skirts, and dual exhausts.
What are the key stats for the engine and transmission? 8/10
The Kodiaq RS I tested was an overseas model and could only be driven on a race circuit. So, while I’m not able to report on the engine and transmission’s behavior in traffic I can tell you that on the track the diesel unit and dual-clutch performed seamlessly.
That said, I wouldn’t call the Kodiaq RS high performance, not compared to say a Porsche Macan, but more on that in the driving section a bit further down.
Skodas are known for their practical side and the Kodiaq, even in RS guise, is no exception. All Kodiaq RSs come standard with seven seats, but it’s squishy for me at 191cm tall in that third row, so they’re only for children or smaller adults.
Second row seating is excellent – I can sit behind my driving position with about 30mm of space between knees and the front seatback, and headroom, even with the optional sunroof, is good.
Space up front is ample as well, even for me with my two-metre wingspan.
Space up front is ample for the driver and passenger.
With all seats folded (not the front ones obviously) you’ll have 2005 litres (to the roof).
Cabin storage is also excellent with a top- and bottom-opening cooled glove box, a large centre console storage area and another hidey hole in front of the shifter.
There are six cupholders (two in each row) and bottle holders in the doors (1.5-litre in the front and 1.0-litre in the rear).
For power and media connection you’ll find a wireless charger, three 12-volt outlets, and a USB port.
The Skoda Kodiaq RS comes standard with a pop-out torch in the cargo area, umbrellas hiding in the front doors at the ready, sun blinds for the rear windows and on all doors there are edge protectors that leap out when you open them to shield them against walls and other cars.
It’s great to see these advanced safety features are standard on the RS, along with AEB.
For child seats you’ll find three top tethers and two ISOFIX points across the second row. Third row seats don’t have anchor points.
Warranty & Safety Rating
5 years / unlimited km
ANCAP Safety Rating
What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered? 8/10
The Kodiaq RS is covered by Skoda’s five-year/unlimited km warranty. While Skoda has not released a guide to the servicing costs (expect this closer to the SUV’s arrival in March 2020) the Sportline grade below the RS needs to be serviced every 15,000km/12 months, with the first visit priced at $331, the second at $421 and the third at $601.
What's it like to drive? 9/10
If you’ve just skipped straight to this bit I need to let you know that because the Kodiaq RS doesn’t arrive in Australia until about March 2020 the one that we tested was an overseas model (a New Zealand version actually).
The Kiwi Kodiaq RS brought into the country was almost identical to Aussie specification, but it did mean we couldn’t drive it on the road… but we could on a race track.
Which is fitting because the RS the sportiest of the Kodiaqs. But how sporty? Well, in May 2018 it broke the Nürburgring Norschileffe lap record for a seven-seater SUV with a time of nine minutes and 29.84 seconds. That was done in a standard Kodiaq RS, too – the same one that will be in dealerships.
The Kodiaq RS’s performance capabilities are outstanding compared to a regular family seven-seater.
So, it’s pretty darn sporty, but I wouldn’t call it high performance. The 0-100km/h time is officially 7.0sec. Look, that is fast compared to most family seven-seaters, but if Skoda could get that below five seconds we’d be getting into high performance territory.
That would involve a stack more grunt and then upgrades to suspension, tyres, brakes.
To be fair, the rear brakes on the RS have bigger and thicker discs and the adaptive suspension is calibrated to be firmer in the Sport setting. Skoda told me apart from the turbo-diesel engine, these are the only performance upgrades.
The grunt and handling will be more than adequate for a fun and engaging drive on Aussie roads.
That diesel engine sounds a bit ‘diesely’ with its clatter-clatter truck-like tune, but put the Kodiaq RS into Sport using the drive mode control, and you’ll be treated to a beefy, low exhaust note.
The sound comes from an electronic device located at the rear of the car. Skoda calls it 'Dynamic Sound Boost'. I call it fake noise. Either way it sounds delicious and Skoda is honest and up front about it.
I’m selling the Kodiaq RS’s performance capabilities a bit short here, but please don’t get me wrong – it’s outstanding compared to a garden variety family seven-seater.
On the track it handled impressively. I did about 30 laps around Luddenham Raceway (in Sydney's west) in dry, cool weather and this 2.0-tonne seven-seater turns in well with only a sniff of understeer.
The Kodiaq RS will launch from 0-100km/h in 7.0 seconds.
It washes off speed damned quick under brakes and stays composed and flat when most regular seven-seaters would be completely out of their depth and probably upside down off the track.
Steering is accurate, but a little light, and pedal feel is superb. Combine that with a very decent amount of torque for powering out of corners and the Kodiaq RS inspires confidence, encouraging you to keep pushing it harder and harder. All I wanted was more mumbo.
It’s unlikely Kodiaq RS owners be pushing it to the limit on a race track, so the grunt and handling will be more than adequate for a fun and engaging drive on Aussie roads.
If only it could be here sooner so that we can drive it on local roads - which we will. So for now, we'll reserve our judgement and just say the Kodiaq was outstanding for its class on the circuit - which is why it scores so well in the driving section.
Keep an eye out for the Australian launch review in 2020 where we'll be able to score it for its on-road, real-world performance, too.
Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with travel and meals provided.