First Impressions Review: 2019 Skoda Kodiaq RS; or Does this Bear Need a Bigger Bite?

Skoda - First Impressions Review: 2019 Skoda Kodiaq RS; or Does this Bear Need a Bigger Bite? - Readers' Reviews

In today’s First Impressions Review I am going to tell you a bit about the flagship fast Skoda, which I got a chance to check out and take for a test drive at this year’s Budapest Auto Show. I couldn’t spend much time with the car, hence this is a first impressions review. Also, since I didn’t have much time, I couldn’t do much documenting work with my camera.

Exterior

In any case, let’s start with the looks. As you can see by looking at the Scout model parked next to it, the RS has some blacked out bits, 20-inch rims, and slightly updated bumper and side skirt design. Apart from the badges, it is a very discreet conversion job. By the way, it is RS, not vRS, that name is only official apparently in the U.K., according to the Skoda guy, yet I still hear half the petrolhead community calling fast Skodas vRSs in my country. I guess they shouldn’t print the letter “V” on the badges if they don’t expect people to say it, whether it is capitalized or not. Imagine an aMG badge with a lower case “a”, and people telling you to pronounce it “MG”. Then why is it even there in the first place, huh, Tomáš?! Anyway, I am getting distracted. The Kodiaq never was a head turner in terms of styling, now that it’s been around a while, it especially isn’t. The RS looks nicer, it is by no means ugly, but it blends in well in a parking lot typically packed with SUVs and crossovers. I would still only expect it to attract the gaze or gearheads, who are “in the know” of what this vehicle is.

Skoda - First Impressions Review: 2019 Skoda Kodiaq RS; or Does this Bear Need a Bigger Bite? - Readers' Reviews

Interior

The interior is a nice blend of sporty and comfy. The motif of red stitching on black surfaces carries over the whole interior, it is of course most noticeable on the steering wheel, and is a really cool look, because it is sporty, but not too in-your-face to take away from its classiness. The seats have a sports seat look to them, but they are actually well bolstered and comfortable. There are unfortunately some fake carbon fibre surfaces, like around the gauge cluster, above the glove box, and even the digital background in the rev counter imitates the stuff. I did’t even like these on my old 2000 Mondeo ST200, and I thought the industry left these behind by now, but alas, no.

Skoda - First Impressions Review: 2019 Skoda Kodiaq RS; or Does this Bear Need a Bigger Bite? - Readers' Reviews

Driving

Anyway, it was time to hit the start button and go on an adventure! The car was in sport mode already, nice, I was mainly interested in that anyway. The brake pedal operated very high and intensely, and I had to get used to it. Maybe it is just a sign that I should drive more new cars. Next thing you know I will be surprised at a clutch not slipping! Back on topic, the RS has a 2.0 diesel engine, with two turbochargers! At 240HP, it is the most powerful engine ever produced by Skoda, but even more importantly, it also has an impressive 500Nm of torque, which I could feel even under low RPM accelerations in the city, and uphill, as it pulled very nicely. 0-100kph is done in a respectable 7 seconds, and the car can launch rather quickly with four wheel drive and launch control, as I was delighted to experience. The engine note sounded very muscular, and a bit fake, to be honest. As I learned later, my feelings were right. Even though there is a trick valve in the exhaust system to make it louder in sport mode, some amplified sound is still coming in through speakers, another trend I am not very fond of. Still, you can claim it is just like an i8, and I can say that the sound was in character with the car, even if a bit cheaty.

Part of me really wants this vehicle to be available with a big petrol engine or two, but given the size, recreational and occasionally off-roading, many-people-and-luggage-hauling nature of the Kodiaq, even I have to realise that the diesel is the fitting choice. It also sounds like an economical choice when you are not absolutely hooning it, on paper it should get 7.5l/100km (48 MPG UK) in the city, yet an average consumption figure of 17.4l/100km (16.2 MPG UK) greeted me from the instrument cluster as I looked at it. What the hell? Can you even achieve this in a modern 2.0 diesel? I know I can’t get my 5.0 V8 S-Class to drink that much, even when I am rather heavy on the right foot! Crazy! Must be because it was a test vehicle and everyone absolutely hammered it all the time? I don’t know.

So the world’s thirstiest diesel is linked to a 7 speed DSG transmission, which you can shift manually with paddle shifters. I personally did not notice the DSG on this car to be noticeably faster or smoother than a regular automatic, it worked just fine, although it sometimes needed an extra blink of time to decide which gear to use when I unexpectedly put my foot down at city speeds, although throttle response was sharp after this.

Suspension felt uncharacteristically firm for an SUV, even the smallest speed bumps and potholes terrorized me like I was in a low hot hatchback. Now granted, this might have had to do with the sport mode, but I would have needed more time to find out. Steering is very heavily assisted, and during my city drive I found it to be aimed at comfort.

On the topic of performance I also have to add that as per usual with modern turbo diesel setups from the factory, even if they already look quite fast and powerful, there is still unclaimed potential, if you don’t mind rolling coal, voiding your warranty, and harming the environment for your personal amusement. ABT has already pushed the limits of this unit by pumping it up to 270HP and 540Nm, all while keeping it street legal, of course. I suspect that as the factory warranty runs out, we might just see some 300+HP Kodiaq RS models disappearing into a cloud of black fumes as they speed away from a set of traffic lights.

Skoda - First Impressions Review: 2019 Skoda Kodiaq RS; or Does this Bear Need a Bigger Bite? - Readers' Reviews

Conclusion

All right, so who is this car aimed at, and is it any good? We can begin deducing the answer by looking at the regular Kodiaq models. Being 7 seaters, having a 4X4 option and tons of luggage space, it is no surprise that this mid-size SUV is a family/recreational car. It is functional and practical. The RS model, with its enhanced appearance and power, gives it an extra layer of sportiness, which….I don’t think it needs, honestly. At around 44-49.000 Euros it is also seriously expensive, especially considering it is a Skoda, which is still a bit of a downmarket badge in my opinion, despite the brand’s recent efforts. So, to sum up, I like the Kodiaq, I think it makes sense, but the RS won’t blow your mind with looks or performance, is rather expensive, and I would also question whether the target demographic of this car really needs a sporty version at all. Overall, if someone gave me one tomorrow, I would be very happy, but if it was my own money, I would just buy an older Mercedes R-Class with the 5.5 V8 to have a fast, fun, yet practical family car.

Thanks for reading, CTzens, I hope you enjoyed! I drove one more car on this event, a short piece might be coming about that too in the future.

Bence Matuz