The familiar scent of burnt petrol fills my nostrils as I step out of the test car. Bits of freshly stained tarmac lay hot behind it and me, as birds slowly return to their nests built atop the trees nearby.
Cautiously, of course, as their quiet and tranquil morning had just been rudely interrupted by the sights and sounds of a big red mass of steel being given the beans in the hands of a
looney automotive journalist.
This is not a fire truck on a demonstration run, of course. Nor is it a flashy sports car that costs as much as a five-room flat in a mature estate.
It’s called the Kodiaq RS, the latest sports SUV from Škoda, and you know what? This could very well be a well-sorted out sports car – only more affordable, and with plenty more space to bring your family out on road trips (or track days) in.
Much like its striking shade of Velvet Red paintwork, the Kodiaq RS paints a picture of dominance to other road users. Aggressive lines and contours fill the SUV's profile, like a Brutalist structure reimagined in automobile form. One of the only angles where you can find curvatures on the Kodiaq is the front fascia, with its pointed snout and double-stacked headlight assembly.
Discreetly-positioned sensors sit just below the Škoda crest, while a set of mostly solid (and very angular) intakes and vents make up the rest of the lower section. Located at the very corners of the bumper are air curtains, there to channel air more efficiently and keep wind resistance to an all-time low.
The Czech sports SUV continues to look like a complex origami piece at the back, with even more lines and sharp contours. As though the Kodiaq RS does not look imposing enough already, the carmaker's given it metal-tip exhaust housings and a host of blacked-out badges to give it extra street cred.
It's also got what Škoda calls Sagitarius alloy wheels, complete with a burnished finish. These 20-inch wheels look somewhat polarising with the dimpled plastic elements, but they're thankfully removable for those who are looking for a more restrained look. But in all honesty, if these are functional in improving aerodynamics (which they are), I'm all for having them.
The Kodiaq RS is well-specced in the tyre department, coming with a set of 235/45 R20 Pirelli P Zeros. And should you encounter any punctures in your journey, the SUV's got you covered with a full-size spare in the boot, a feature that's becoming increasingly rare in this day and age.
Sporty Yet Sensible Cabin
As with just about every other VAG car in the market right now, the Kodiaq RS's cabin is very sensible and logically-designed. You will not be cracking your brain to figure out the controls as they're quite straightforward.
Various switchgear components are clearly taken from the VW/Audi parts bin, which is not at all a bad thing, as they're all tactile and, for lack of a better description, Germanic. The grippy dimpled steering wheel, the idiot-proof HVAC controls, and even the perfectly damped signal stalks are all very familiar for those who are used to sitting inside a VAG car.
With that said, Škoda still managed to find a way to have fun and celebrate the Kodiaq RS's sporty genes. Red piping and stitching are strewn across the cabin's upholstery, from the ventilated sports seats to the soft-touch dashboard. The carbon fibre-finish dash elements are a bit naff, if I'm being blunt, and the cabin would have looked far classier without them. However, this is by no means a deal-breaker.
As front row passengers, you get useful frills such as ventilated seats with memory function, a pair of USB Type-C ports plus a Qi wireless charging pad, and also wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity.
The quilted leather seats are very plush, and extend across all three seating rows. Hidden window blinds can be pulled up for the middle row passengers when it gets too bright outside, or if the passengers simply want more privacy. Speaking of the middle row, headroom and legroom are more than sufficient for most folks, thanks to the boxy interior dimensions.
The same cannot be said about the Kodiaq RS's last row, however. It is best left for small children, or a single adult sitting slightly diagonally due to the tight measurements. Unless you're hauling the entire family frequently, the last row is better off flattened to maximise cargo space.
Once you're on the move, the Canton sound system does a great job in replaying your favourite tunes, while the tinted moonroof provides a panoramic view of the sky above. The front end can even be tilted open to allow for fresh air and additional sunlight to enter.
With all seats upright, you get about 270 litres of storage space at the back. It's not a lot, but that changes once you flip the final row of seats down. With the pull of a lever, you instantly gain almost three times the initial amount. With the middle rows down, a grand total of 2,005 litres of space are now available.
An additional party trick comes in the form of door protectors. These nifty plastic guards are deployed in tandem with the opening motion of the doors, and are equipped in all four of them.
Perfect for protecting the metal and paintwork if your passengers have a nasty habit of swinging the door(s) open like a rugby player on the offensive.
Staying true to the company's "Simply Clever" tagline, the Kodiaq RS even comes with a Rolls-Royce-esque umbrella storage compartment on the door cards, so that the rest of your fancy cabin does not get wet. Said umbrella holders are also water resistant, and can drain the water out of the SUV.
Measuring at about 4.7 metres long, almost 1.9 metres tall, and weighing over 1.8 tonnes, you would expect the Kodiaq RS to be powered by at least a V6 engine.
But the reality is more fascinating than that. Sitting inside the engine bay is the venerable 2.0-litre four-pot EA888, the same powerplant that powers the iconic VW Golf GTI and even the Kodiaq's own Octavia RS sibling. It's also the latest Evo4 iteration of the famous workhorse, which means you get access to 241 horses and 370 Nm of torque.
Apart from some slight turbo lag when you initially floor the throttle, the Kodiaq RS launches like a much lighter SUV. And you'd be hard-pressed to feel just how fast it's travelling until you read the speedometer readings on the digital instrument cluster, thanks to the impressively low NVH levels and buttery-smooth seven-speed DSG 'box.
Nought to a hundred takes just 6.6 seconds, despite the vehicle's box-on-four-wheels profile, and it tops out eventually at 233 km/h.
The Kodiaq RS is spritely around the bends too, and takes full advantage of its Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC). With an adaptive suspension and steering system in place, the Škoda manages to execute tight corners at high speeds easily, and you can barely feel the electronic and mechanical bits-and-bobs trying their best to defy the laws of physics.
I am not a fan of the pumped-in engine soundtrack, however. The faux-V8 burble seems wholly unnecessary and cheapens the in-car experience, and Škoda should instead let its EA888 sing au naturelle instead. Thankfully, however, this can be turned off once you've enabled the Individual driving mode.
While we were unable to put the Kodiaq RS through its paces away from tarmac surfaces, there exists an "Off-Road" mode that lets the ABS governor limit the amount of slip to the wheels.
Not Just a Trackday Special
In a nutshell, the Kodiaq RS is quite a competent concoction of practical everyday drivability and enthusiastic hooning. It's got the right ingredients needed to satisfty both extreme ends of the spectrum, and manages to somehow balance each other's strengths without cancelling any one of them out.
Believe us when we say that it will put a big smile on not just your face, but on your missus and kids too. Just don't let the folks at 10 Ubi Ave 3 catch you.
|Škoda Kodiaq RS Specifications|
|Price: $294,900||VES Band: C1|
241 bhp, 370 Nm
Fuel Tank Capacity:
4,697 mm x 1,882 mm x 1,680 mm
270 - 2,005 litres
Photo Credit: Muhammad Mu'tasim (@mutasimdrives)
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