Following the trend of ditching grunty diesels in favour of boosted petrols in sporting models, the Kodiaq RS scores the Octavia RS drivetrain along with a mild refresh
There’s something deeply alluring about Skoda’s relentless, almost wilful desire to be different. When the brand tries to be too mainstream, it seems to slightly miss the mark but when it remains on course – straddling niches with vehicles that don’t quite follow conventional categorisation – then you get something like the Kodiaq medium-to-large SUV.
Closely mirroring the Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace in size but seemingly doing a better job of putting together a persuasive package, the most intriguing variant of the mildly facelifted 2022 Skoda Kodiaq is the new RS ($74,990 driveaway). It ditches the previous 176kW 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel for the same 180kW 2.0-litre turbo-petrol that purrs away under the bonnet of the latest VW Golf GTI and Skoda Octavia RS, which sounds promising.
And when you piece together the various options packs available on the lesser Kodiaq Style ($52,990 driveaway) and Sportline ($57,990 driveaway) – both of which share a far less powerful 132kW 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four – you start to realise that the sub-$10K premium charged for the fully featured Kodiaq RS over a fully optioned Sportline isn’t really much of a hurdle.
Indeed, when 40 percent of Aussie punters already preferred the RS anyway – making it the highest-selling Kodiaq variant in this country – perhaps the power-versus-efficiency balance of the new petrol RS will expand that percentage share even further (its official combined fuel number is actually lower than for the 132kW models!).
However, not quite everything has gone to plan for Skoda Australia. The global supply shortage scuppered not only the MY22 Kodiaq’s original launch date (late-2021) but also a bunch of equipment that was originally standard.
As I write this, there’s currently a very small amount of Kodiaq RS examples fitted with every piece of fruit (such as our Race Blue test car), and the 360-degree parking camera has now returned to the standard spec list, however blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and the 12-speaker Canton premium audio remain indefinitely unavailable on any Kodiaq – be it the top-spec RS, or a Style or Sportline fitted with option packs.
What we’re really testing here, though, is the suitability of the RS’s punchy new petrol powertrain to this Kodiaq’s warmed-over mission as a family truckster with sporting flair.
With 58kg less weight over its nose than the previous diesel RS, the 2022 petrol version is off to a solid head start. It also weighs less overall (1790kg versus 1858kg), so while the engine produces only 4kW more power (180kW from 5250-6500rpm) and maximum torque (370Nm from 1600-4300rpm) is significantly less than the diesel’s 500Nm, the new turbo-petrol RS is both quicker from 0-100km/h (6.6sec versus 7.0) and faster at the top end (233km/h top speed versus 221).
While much of that performance data is potentially irrelevant to many buyers, the simple fact is the Kodiaq RS wears a sporting badge, and that athletic flavour is supported by its design and equipment. This medium-to-large, seven-seat SUV is not only a fully featured range-topper but also one with a satisfying level of driver appeal.
The 180kW turbo-petrol engine feels and sounds much smoother and sweeter than the twin-turbo diesel, despite having a synthesised engine sound that comes into play every time you start the Kodiaq RS. You can dial it out, of course (via configuring the Individual drive mode), but that goes out the window once you’ve turned the ignition off. Still, it’s not too offensive and does add some flavour to the driving experience.
As for overall performance, don’t expect a scorcher. The petrol Kodiaq RS is definitely quick – especially from a standing start, as it combines the thrust benefits of turbo torque with its all-wheel drive system. But at speeds beyond 100km/h, the MY22 RS is more about effortless movement than neck-snapping pace. That said, it’s a substantial lift over the refined but leisurely 132kW/320Nm version that persists in other Kodiaq variants (0-100km/h in 8.4sec, 204km/h top speed) – despite boasting an identical 2000kg braked towing capacity.
The RS also brings standard adaptive dampers and fast-geared ‘progressive’ steering (shared with Kodiaq Sportline) offering a GTI-like 2.1 turns lock-to-lock, though spanning a rather broad 12.2m turning circle. And like the Sportline, it wears standard 20-inch alloy wheels (with unusual clip-on plastic ‘aero’ inserts) clad in high-quality 235/45R20 Continental ContiSportContact 5 rubber.
The combination of the above is subtly rewarding. In general driving, the RS’s crisp steering response blends nicely with its relatively absorbent ride quality (apart from the occasional crash-through from the big wheels over sharp bumps) and fluent handling – making the Kodiaq RS feel keen but not too eager. When you start to plumb the depths of its handling, however, there’s a level of involvement from the rear suspension that enlivens the RS’s turn-in and dynamic feel – making this something of a wolf in wolf-ish clothing.
Indeed, without the family in tow, the Kodiaq RS delivers unexpected fun on twisty roads, despite being a softer drive than, say, an Audi SQ5.
It also offers a decent level of active-safety kit, including nine airbags, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, manoeuvre assistance, front and rear parking sensors and a 360-degree camera, though blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are currently not included due to the global semiconductor shortage affecting supply.
Based on a 2017 test, ANCAP gives the Kodiaq a five-star safety rating.
Ultimately, the Kodiaq RS’s interior isn’t really that different from a Kodiaq Sportline’s, given that they both share high-backed sports front seats, a flat-bottomed sports steering wheel, and high-quality trim (though with hard lower cabin plastics). But the RS does lift the game when it comes to featured equipment.
This includes diamond-patterned, perforated leather upholstery featuring acres of classy red stitching (the Sportline gets suede-effect trim and silver stitching), as well as stuff like front-seat ventilation and heating, a panoramic glass sunroof, three-zone climate control, full electric adjustment for both front seats with memory, rear-seat heating, and a power tailgate.
The Kodiaq RS normally also features a standard 12-speaker Canton stereo with subwoofer (as fitted to our test car), which is part of the Tech Pack option on Kodiaq Style and Sportline, however supply shortages mean it’s currently on the option list for the RS as well … without a definitive date of availability.
That aside, it’s a strong system with enough bass and audio spread to fill the Kodiaq’s capacious cabin with crips tunes, and includes a fast-acting 9.2-inch touchscreen, wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and wireless phone charging.
As for the space itself, despite the Kodiaq being essentially medium-sized (it’s less than 4.7m long), it genuinely does rival larger seven-seat SUVs for packaging space, and seems to do a better job of housing occupants than the near identically-sized VW Tiguan Allspace. Access to the third row should be mostly effortless for children and teens, while back-row comfort is entirely acceptable for adults for modest journeys.
The middle row is on runners – split 60/40 – so can be adjusted across quite a wide range, and like the third row, it shares its trim quality with the excellent sports seats up front. But the middle row is also rather shapeless, which means you tend to sit on the seat rather than in it … without detracting too much from its long-distance comfort. At least the outer second-row positions feature neat little ‘neck-pillow’ extenders from the headrests, which should prove hugely advantageous (for adults, at least) on long journeys.
The Kodiaq’s USP, however, is its plethora of storage solutions and neat ideas – from the little flaps that flip out to protect the door edges from dings when you open them to having two gloveboxes, moveable rubbish bins in the front doors, rear-door sunshades and rear underfloor storage for the retractable luggage cover.
All doors have proper grab handles and decent bottle holders (1.5L front, 1L rear), and the Kodiaq’s voluminous boot (765 litres behind the second row, 270 litres behind the third row) includes moveable plastic cargo holders, three luggage nets (two vertical, one horizontal), and four sliding hooks on their own rails – making it something of a dream for anyone who enjoys a tidy boot!
The official ADR81/02 government combined fuel consumption figure for the Kodiaq RS is 7.5L/100km, which is actually more efficient than the less powerful 132TSI variants at 8.2L/100km and isn’t too far behind diesel-engined models of rival seven-seaters such as the Hyundai Santa Fe CRDi (6.1L/100km).
Recommended service intervals for the Kodiaq are every 12 months or 15,000km, with Skoda’s five-year/75,000km capped-price servicing plan costing $2000, and a seven-year/105,000km plan costing $2900.
The seven-year service plan also adds an additional two years (and unlimited additional kilometres) to Skoda’s standard five-year/unlimited warranty – making it superb value for money in our opinion.
The thing about the niche-straddling Skoda Kodiaq RS is that it’s more than just a neatly expanded midsized SUV capable of seating seven. It’s also a handsome, refined, well-built, egalitarian family hauler with big lungs and a highly capable chassis that combines comfort with driver appeal like few other SUVs – particularly anything near its $74,990 driveaway price.
Undoubtedly the main appeal of the RS version is its considerable performance lift over the regular 132TSI Kodiaq variants, yet there’s also plenty of embedded value for money in this Czech range-topper. Option its features into a Kodiaq Style or Sportline and the price difference is surprisingly slim given the RS’s many advantages – one of which is the unlikely byproduct of superior fuel efficiency.
Yet the real sweetener here is more than just the Kodiaq’s capabilities and all-round class. It’s stuff like seven years of scheduled servicing for less than $3K, combined with an industry-best seven-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty. So not only is the Kodiaq RS an admirable piece of packaging excellence, it’s also terrific value-for-money, and that stuff really matters in 2022.
The Peugeot 5008 GT sits in a niche between medium and large SUVs, offering seven seats within a fairly compact body with lots of styling flair. It drives well too, though we reckon the diesel is the best fit
Variant tested RS (4x4)
Key specs (as tested)
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Skoda Kodiaq 2022: blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and Canton audio still affected by chip shortage
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