Nissan X-Trail VS Skoda Kodiaq
- No price penalty for new model
- Among the most versatile offerings in its segment
- Safety updates add plenty of appeal
- CVT auto a loud and intrusive annoyance
- No Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
- Not as dynamic as segment leaders
- Great handling (on the track)
- Excellent value for money
- Practical for storage and people
- More grunt please
- Diesel only
- Doesn't get here until 2020
If you're a fan of the old Nissan X-Trail - and plenty of you are, it was the brand's best-selling model here last year - then we've got good news for you: this 2017 Series II update is absolutely unchanged under the skin.
Better still, it costs the same as the old one. Or less. So is more of pretty much the same a good thing?
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
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.
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
It might not be an X-Trail blazer, but this nip-and-tuck has added some critical technology and safety extras to an already competent package. It's improved in the areas that matter and, CVT aside, is an easy-breezy drive from behind the wheel. For ours, the petrol-powered ST-L makes the most sense, no matter which configuration you opt for, scoring the best of the new stuff without breaking the bank.
Has this refresh put the Nissan X-Trail on your SUV shopping list? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
The Skoda Kodiaq RS is as practical and clever as a regular Kodaiq only faster, safer and tougher looking. The price also just undercuts the luxury tax threshold making it superb value, too.
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.
It was and still is rather handsome, the X-Trail. It's not pushing any design boundaries, sure, but neither is it controversial or polarising - plus, it's bound to age well, given it hasn't really changed much since 2014, and it still doesn't look old.
This time around, though, Nissan has redesigned the grille, with a new shield that forms part of a now-jutting jawline. There's a new design for the alloy wheels, too, along with new rear lights and a flat-bottomed steering wheel.
Inside, you get what you pay for, with the cheap plastics that lower the tone in the entry-level model replaced with soft-touch and premium-feeling materials (along with a bigger multimedia screen) in the more expensive models.
In the entry-level ST, for example, the 5.0-inch screen is surrounded by a sea of rock-hard plastics, while the top-spec TI offers up a leather-wrapped and raised centre console, and a stitched leather panel lines the dash.
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.
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.
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.
Nissan refers to its X-Trail as the "Swiss-army knife of our range - the one-size-fits-all, family proof car", and so expect a useable, versatile cabin irrespective of whether you opt for a five or seven seater.
All trim levels offer two up-front cupholders and room for bottles in the doors, along with a USB connection and a 12 volt charge point in the centre console, and a second power source in the centre bin. The dials in the driver's binnacle are analogue, but they're separated by a digital screen that displays all the usual trip data.
The backseat (or second row) is hugely spacious for human-sized riders, even if you opt to go three across. But the aircon vents have no temperature controls and there's no power or USB connections points on offer. There is, however, room in the doors for bottles, and two extra cupholders hidden in the pull down divider that separates the rear seats.
Things do feel a bit squished in third row for the seven seat models, though, with the back row definitely reserved for children. It's tight in head and legroom, and adults (with the possible exception of Tattoo from Fantasy Island) will find the going tough.
Five seat models offer 565 litres of storage with the second row of seats in place, swelling to 945 litres with the second row folded flat. Opt for a seven seater, and you'll get a paltry 135 litres with all seating rows in place, growing to 445 litres with the third row folded flat, and maxing out at 825 litres with everything flattened.
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.
Boot capacity with the third row in place is 270 litres, and with those rear seats folded flat you have 630 litres to fill up to the cargo cover.
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.
Price and features
Good news for X-Trail shoppers: Series II prices, right across the board, are either identical to, or down slightly on, the 2016 sticker prices.
The range still kicks off with the petrol-powered ST - $27,990-$30,490, depending on your engine choice, $31,990 for the seven seater and $32,490 as a five seat, four-wheel drive (4WD), before climbing to the ST-L ($36,590 for the five-seater, $38,090 for the seven-seater, and $38,590 for the five seat-only 4WD version) before topping out with the 4WD-only Ti ($44,290).
There are still two diesel-powered options on offer (both of which are pencilled in for a mid-year or later arrival), the $35,490 TS, and $47,290 TL.
The ST and TS trims arrive with 17-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights and taillights, along with powered mirrors, automatic headlights and some splashes of chrome, including the door handles. Inside, expect cloth seats, a flat-bottomed steering wheel, push-button start and climate control. A tiny-looking 5.0-inch touchscreen is mounted in the dash, which is paired with a six-speaker stereo, but there's no Apple CarPlay/Android Auto on offer anywhere in the range.
Stepping up to the ST-L trim and you'll add fog lights, roof rails and heated mirrors outside, while your seats are now leather-trimmed, and heated in the front. You'll also score dual-zone climate control and a powered driver's seat. Your entertainment options are now controlled through a bigger 7.0-inch touchscreen, which is sat nav equipped.
The top-spec Ti (or TL, if you've opted for a diesel), gains 19-inch alloys, adaptive headlights and a sunroof outside, along with a boot that opens automatically when you wave your foot under it. Inside, you'll find a heated steering wheel, along with heated seats in the second row. You get a better stereo, too, now an eight-speaker Bose unit.
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.
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.
Keep in mind, too, that the Skoda Kodiaq is closely related to its Volkswagen AllSpace cousin – the 162TSI is a petrol variant, but look at it, too.
There are only three options available to the Kodiaq RS: metallic paint ($770), panoramic sunroof ($1900), and side steps ($1300).
Engine & trans
There are two petrol engines on offer in the X-Trail range, with a revamped (and, on paper at least, significantly better) diesel engine scheduled to arrive closer to the middle of the year.
The smallest petrol - a 2.0-litre unit good for 106kW at 6000rpm and 200Nm at 4400rpm - is available only in the base model ST, and can only be partnered with a six-speed manual sending its power to the front wheels. Which is bound to make it as popular as curdled milk.
The big seller, then, will be a solid 2.5-litre petrol unit that will produce 126kW at 6000rpm and 226Nm at 4400rpm. It's partnered exclusively with a CVT auto, and can be had in two- or 4WD.
Finally, the late-to-the-party diesel is a fine-sounding 2.0-litre that will produce 130kW at 3750rpm and 380Nm at 2000rpm (significant increases on the outgoing 1.6-litre engine). It's also CVT only, and will only be offered in the 4WD configuration.
Nissan's holding out some hope for the diesel, too. Somewhere around 95 per cent of diesel sales in the segment are 4WDs partnered with an automatic transmission - a configuration missing from the current range.
Power output is 176kW (at 4000rpm) and torque is 500Nm (1740rpm-2500rpm).
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.
The 2.0-litre petrol engine sips 8.2L/100km on the claimed/combined cycle, while emitting 190 grams per kilometre of C02. The bigger, 2.5-litre petrol is actually more efficient, needing 7.9 litres (8.1 in seven-seat models) to go the same distance, emitting 183 grams (188 grams if you opt for the third row) per kilometre. Predictably, ticking the 4WD box hurts economy a little, increasing that number to 8.3 litres and 192 grams per kilometre.
The incoming diesel sips a mere 6.0 or 6.1L/100km, depending on the trim level, and emits 158g/km of C02.
Skoda says the Kodiaq RS should only sip diesel at 6.4L/100km during a combination of open and urban roads.
Given our testing took place on a racetrack there’s no way for us to verify that figure until we do our own testing when we drive it on Australian roads.
What we do know is that diesel engines are known for their frugalness and you can expect the 2.0-litre engine and seven-speed dual clutch automatic to form an impressively fuel-efficient team.
Nissan clearly reckons it's onto a good thing with its X-Trail, and so hasn't messed with the formula too much. Or at all, for that matter.
In fact, except for the new diesel engine that's yet to hit our shores, nothing's changed under the skin at all.
But that's maybe not such a bad thing. We spent the majority of our time in the top-spec Ti model, equipped with the bigger 2.5-litre petrol engine and 4WD, and it's a hugely likeable set-up, delivering its power in a constant stream, while its confident suspension irons out all but the worst bumps in the road, and manages to dispose of most corners without transforming the X-Trail into a rollicking high-seas tall ship.
It's confident off-road, too, tackling gravel tracks with ease, while the steering, though weirdly light, is nicely predictable. Nothing there that needed too much updating, then.
But the CVT auto, for us at least, is harrowingly close to a deal-breaker: a whining, whirring disruption that makes smooth progress difficult, instead making you feel like you're constantly ebbing and flowing, surging forward with every light prod of the accelerator.
Elsewhere, though, the X-Trail is spacious and comfortable, and always easy to manoeuvre. And, in the top-spec models at least, it feels polished and premium in the cabin, though some cheaper plastics have crept in below the passengers' line of sight.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Every X-Trail arrives with a commendable standard safety package, including six airbags (dual front, front-side and curtain bags), along with a reversing camera and forward collision warning with AEB.
Spring for the ST-L trim, and you'll add blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert and a surround-view camera that detects motion, while the Ti or TL top-spec models score lane departure warning and pedestrian detection, while for reasons known only to Nissan, only the Ti gets Intelligent Lane Intervention, which will counter-steer if it senses you drifting out of the lane, along with active cruise control.
The X-Trail range scored the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating when tested in 2014.
The Skoda Kodiaq was awarded the maximum five-star ANCAP rating in 2017. In my review of the Skoda Kodiaq Sportline I mentioned that while nine airbags cover all three rows, there was some advanced safety equipment such as rear cross traffic alert, lane keeping assistance, blind spot warning and adaptive cruise control which wasn’t standard.
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.
The X-Trail is covered by a three-year/100,000km warranty, and will require a trip to the service centre every 12 months or 10,000km.
X-Trail falls under Nissan's menu-based servicing program, with owners able to verify what needs to be done and cost estimated ahead of each service.
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.