AND LO, the age of the performance SUV did descend upon us like a plague, and we will do well to come out the other side. And people buy them, even if there’s no especially compelling reason to do so.
To wit, Skoda’s Kodiaq RS. On face value, it’s a perfectly well-sorted mid-size seven-seat SUV, based on the bones of the VW Group’s MQB underpinnings and rammed full of valid spec.
The model’s new range-topper breaks the mould by dint of its dieseldrinking powerplant, with its 2.0-litre twin-turbo four-pot oiler grunting out 176kW and a healthy 500Nm. It’ll push the Kodiaq’s 1858kg to 100km/h from rest in a claimed 6.9sec, and sip 6.2L/100km of the devil’s brew on the combined fuel-consumption cycle.
All four wheels benefit from the engine’s output, its torque marshalled via a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox and an electronically modulated front diff, hitting the road through 235/45 R20 ContiSportContact 5s. Suspension is steel-sprung with adaptive dampers, and there are serious-spec disc brakes front and rear.
The $65,990 Kodiaq RS has all the gear, too, from LED lighting all round, advanced driver aids, a model-specific digital dash, sliding second-row seats and wireless charging. Inside is a nice place to be, too, with terrific-looking (and feeling) front buckets and a sombre, stylish feel throughout.
The RS sits in an interesting position segment-wise – Skoda’s assertion that it’ll be cross-shopped with seven-seaters like the Ford Everest is probably wide of the mark, but it’s cheaper than offerings from Volvo and Audi.
On road, the Kodiaq is composed and quick rather than rorty and fun, even though an overly augmented exhaust noise tries desperately to convince you otherwise. It’s odd, actually – the diesel clatter from the front doesn’t really match the macho note from the rear, but thankfully the latter can be muted.
The MQB platform provides the Kodiaq with its usual sturdy composure and precise yet numb steering, but the engine spec is a strange ’un. Fulsome rather than feelsome, it’s like there’s not enough throttle travel to tap into its charms. Once you’re rolling, it’s got plenty of loping pace … but is it sufficiently ‘RS’?
The Kodiaq RS will also have to live in the shadow of its smaller, older (five-seat) sibling, the Octavia RS wagon, which, for mine, is the pick of the Skoda range; it’s cheaper ($46,990), faster, carries almost as much stuff and wears the RS badge more convincingly.
Still, if you need seven seats and kilometre-eating comfort in a handsome jigger that sways to a different beat, Skoda’s Kodiaq RS is a worthy alternative to similarly specced diesel rivals – if the pricing equation works out in your favour, of course.
Model Skoda Kodiaq RS
Engine 1968cc 4cyl, dohc, 16v, twin-turbo diesel
Max power 176kW @ 4000rpm
Max torque 500Nm @ 1750-2500rpm
Transmission 7-speed dual-clutch
0-100km/h 6.9sec (claimed)
On sale Q3 2020
Holds a (curious) USP; loads of spec; economy of diesel
Steep pricing; existence of the Octavia RS