The seven-seater SUV that sounds like a V8 and goes hard
When it comes to sports utility vehicles, most fail miserably to live up to the name.
As high-riding wagons, gravity and physics prove victorious, essentially rendering them anything but sporty.
Skoda has bucked the trend with an athletic version of its Kodiaq seven-seater.
The first Skoda SUV to wear the hallow ‘RS’ badge, it has a biturbo diesel engine that promises efficiency and serious punch.
Getting the feisty Kodiaq Down Under took some convincing.
The brand’s Czech Republic-based team had Australia classified as too hot and dusty. Given few of us are riding kangaroos to the shops, a condition downgrade saw a change of heart.
Although the sporting prowess comes at a cost, $71,990 drive away. That pushes the Kodiaq toward prestige territory.
From the outside the RS is distinguished by the badging, big 20-inch wheels featuring red painted brake callipers, twin tailpipes and different bumpers.
Step inside and the bucket alcantara trimmed seats with leather features and red stitching accentuate the sporting credentials alongside carbon-look finishes and the flat-bottom steering wheel with paddle shifters.
Other nice kit includes a 9.2-inch touchscreen which has the best clarity you’ll find in a car, hands-free boot opening, three-zone climate control, Audi-like digital driver instruments, wireless phone charging along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity to the 10-speaker Canton stereo.
There are only three options, colour choice (metallic paint adds $770), panoramic sunroof ($1900) and sidesteps ($1300). Inside there is no choice but to have the alcantara and leather seats in black, while externally the palette includes white, silver, blue, grey, quartz and black. If you want to go even faster, the premium red paint costs $1100.
Service packs are available, with $1700 covering five years with the first two services free. Opt for three-year cover and its $399 with one free service. Maintenance is required annually or every 15,000km.
Warranty coverage is five years and unlimited kilometres. Mitsubishi has the best coverage of 10 years or 200,000km, while Kia, MG and SsangYong are seven years.
Maintaining five stars achieved by the standard Kodiaq back in 2017, the sporting derivative doesn’t deviate with its tech.
Brakes can be automatically applied if an impending collision is detected by the various sonars — and it also works in reverse.
Other inclusions are blind spot detection that lights up an LED symbol in the side mirrors when a vehicle moves into position and then flashes if you indicate to move, and lane assist which can gently steer the car back into the middle of the lane if the driver wanders.
Towing capacity is rated at 2000kg with a downball weight of 100kg. But with gross vehicle mass of just 2551kg, the limit would be jetskis and small trailers.
Small but smart inclusions set the Skoda apart.
Plastic edge protectors pop out every time a door is opened. Fold-down headrest supports to stop head flops in the back seat. Umbrellas embedded in the doors. Velcro-based supports to keep loose items in place in the boot. It all adds up to a thoughtful family SUV which suits busy and active lifestyles.
Sporting seats are figure-hugging around the ribs and thighs without being intrusive, and the lashings of carbon-look finishes across the dash and doors maintain the athletic theme.
Ride quality remains compliant despite the athletic intentions and the family won’t need kidney belts over second grade bitumen.
Head, leg and knee room remains excellent in the first and second rows. Like most seven-seat SUVs, the third row is aimed for occasional use and while small adults can be accommodated, it’s an area best left to the kids.
With all seats in use there is a handy 230 litres of boot space. That’s impressive and better than the larger Kia Sorento, Hyundai Santa Fe or Honda CR-V. Drop the third row flat and the luggage area expands to 520L, and with all seats collapsed it can easily handle a few surfboards or flatpack furniture with 1950L of space.
This could be the best sounding diesel on the market. Many wouldn’t pick the fact it’s an oil-burner.
Armed with what Skoda calls “Dynamic Sound Boost”, it’s a device that analyses engine speed, gear, torque as well as speed and adds some serious meat to the original exhaust note. It all depends on how hard you’re pushing and what driving mode is selected … Eco mode is muted, Sport is extroverted.
From standstill the Kodiaq is responsive with all-wheel drive delivering maximum grip.
The zero to 100km/h time of seven seconds won’t shatter quarter mile records, but the hefty levels of torque provide effortless acceleration.
Combined with the artificial soundtrack, well balanced set-up and timely shifts from the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, it handles corners and changes direction flatter than any other SUV for this coin.
Tight carparks can be a challenge with a turning circle of 12.2 metres … which is more than some dual-cab utes.
Speedy performance and functionality smarts, having a family no longer means banishing driving which generates a smile.
While I long for V8 power, this diesel offers strength and sound — even if it is artificially generated — and I don’t get the massive fuel bills.
Volvo XC90 D5 Momentum $97,385 D/A
Doesn’t have the same sporting prowess, but this is seven-seat Scandinavian chic with more internal space and powered by a 173kW/480Nm 2.0-litre turbo diesel. Can achieve 0-100km/h in 7.8 seconds. Currently a $5000 cashback deal and five-year warranty.
Kia Sorento GT-Line $64,990 D/A
The latest addition to this realm. It may not corner as flat as the Kodiaq but the 148kW/440Nm 2.2-litre 4-cyl turbo diesel is honest and frugal. Impressive levels of space, refinement and technology.
VERDICT 3.5 stars
The Kodiaq boasts performance and functionality smarts which regularly make you smile. It’s expensive for a Skoda, but getting from A to B with the family has never been
so much fun.
AT A GLANCE
SKODA KODIAQ RS
PRICE $71,990 drive-away (getting expensive)
WARRANTY/SERVICING 5yrs/unlim’ km w’ty, $1700 5yrs (good)
ENGINE 2.0-litre 4-cyl biturbo diesel, 176kW/500Nm (hairy chested)
SAFETY 5 stars, 9 airbags, AEB, adaptive cruise, lane keeping assistance, 360 degree camera, auto park (solid list)
THIRST 6.2L/100km (8.0L on test)
SPARE Inflation kit (common)
BOOT 520L/1950L (fine)