Skoda has ditched diesel for its flagship SUV.
The Kodiaq RS only arrived in Australia during 2020, but already it’s been given a heart transplant. Out is the twin-turbo diesel from launch, replaced with a more powerful (lighter) turbo petrol nicked from the Volkswagen Golf GTI.
With more power and a sportier character, it’s designed to make the Kodiaq RS less mild, and more wild… by seven-seat SUV standards, at least.
The new engine isn’t all that’s changed for 2022. Along with a massaged look, the RS has an updated interior packing the latest technology from the Volkswagen Group stable.
It also features the same array of Simply Clever touches that made the pre-update car such a perfect family car.
In other words, it sounds like Skoda has taken a good thing and made it better. In reality, that’s mostly true.
The Kodiaq RS will set you back $74,990 drive-away, although the sunroof on our tester bumped the sticker price to $76,890 drive-away. Whichever way you spin it, that’s a lot of money.
Then again, pure rivals for the Kodiaq are hard to come by. Although the less powerful Kodiaq Style and Sportline face off with the Kia Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe, no competitor offers similar performance in a seven-seat body.
Volkswagen doesn’t offer the 180kW engine in the related Tiguan Allspace in Australia, and the smaller Tiguan R is a five-seat only proposition. A Tiguan Allspace 162TSI R-Line is probably the closest rival, priced from $60,190 plus on-road costs.
2022 Skoda Kodiaq pricing
- Skoda Kodiaq Style 4×4: $52,990
- Skoda Kodiaq Sportline 4×4: $57,990
- Skoda Kodiaq RS 4×4: $74,990
All prices are drive-away
The Kodiaq has always been about space and practicality, and the update hasn’t done anything to diminish that. The 2022 model is a great way to carry five in comfort (and seven in a pinch), with a range of cleverly thought-out touches to make family life easier.
Up front, the driver and passenger sit in sporty seats with one-piece backrests. They’re heated and cooled for 2022, and offer a neat blend of bolstering and support. The driving position is commanding, and offers enough adjustment to accomodate tall or short drivers.
There are few mainstream SUVs that are more comfortable for long trips.
The driver is faced with a digital instrument binnacle, which has been updated with new graphics for 2022. Like most Volkswagen Group products, it allows you to pare things right back and show just your speed and revs, or to bombard you with information about everything from your navigation to the assist systems.
Taking pride of place in the middle of the dashboard is a 9.2-inch touchscreen. It’s the same size as before, and looks a bit small alongside the widescreen displays offered in rivals, but it’s gained wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for 2022.
Once you’re flicking through its menus, it’s also clear the smaller screen hasn’t impacted usability. It’s easy to use on the move, and responds quickly to inputs – although getting the tiles on the home screen set up takes a bit of time.
Storage spaces abound. There’s a space beneath the central armrest, and a tray in front of it that can act as cupholders, or flipped to hold coins and keys. Beneath the centre console is a wireless phone charger and USB-C ports, while the door bins are big enough to swallow 1.5-litre bottles.
Unlike everything Volkswagen, Skoda has stuck with dials and physical buttons for its climate controls. Sounds crazy, but it works. Everything falls easily to hand, and it’s easy to fiddle with the temperature or fan speed on the move.
The driver’s door also houses a bin, which is ideal if you chew gum compulsively. While we’re talking ‘Simply Clever’ touches, there’s an umbrella hidden in the driver’s door, a parking ticket holder on the windscreen, flip-down pieces on the headrests to support sleeping heads in the rear, and blankets that attach to the headrests to keep the kids warm.
Space in the second row is standout. Headroom is excellent, even with the panoramic sunroof fitted to this tester, and there’s enough legroom there for six-footers to sit behind leggy drivers.
The fold-down central armrest, air vents, sunshades, and temperature controls mean the kids will be comfortable in all conditions, although the lack of rear USB ports is a miss. I’ve spent six hours in a Kodiaq with four adults on board and no-one complained, which says a bit about how comfortable it is.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly said the Kodiaq has rear USB ports. The text has been updated to reflect the fact it doesn’t.
As for the third row? It’s not as spacious. The Kodiaq is a more of a five-plus-two than a full-time seven-seater, with seats suited to small kids on short trips.
Access is tight, but with the rear seats folded forwards little kids will be able to scamper through, and enjoy enough space for shorter trips. The cupholder on the left/storage pocket on the right are nice touches, but you don’t get USB outlets or face-level air vents back there.
This is understandable when you consider how small the Kodiaq is. At 4697mm long it’s 269mm shorter than a Toyota Kluger, but offers similarly excellent space for five and a better drive in the city.
Boot space is a claimed 270 litres with the third row in place, 765L with it folded flat, and 2005L with both the third and second rows flat.
The floor folds totally flat with the third row folded, and there’s storage beneath it for the cargo blind. This is a very smartly packaged vehicle, no matter which way you spin it.
Power in the Kodiaq RS comes from the 2.0-litre ‘EA888’ four-cylinder turbo petrol engine that features in the Volkswagen Golf GTI, among plenty of others.
It makes 180kW of power here (up 4kW on the old diesel), and 370Nm of torque (down 130Nm). A seven-speed dual-clutch transmission is standard, as is all-wheel drive.
Claimed fuel economy is 7.5 litres per 100km, and the 100km/h sprint takes a claimed 6.6 seconds.
You’ll need to put 95 RON premium unleaded in the 60L fuel tank.
The Kodiaq might wear an RS badge, but it’s still a comfortable and capable family SUV at heart.
Even though it’s riding on big wheels, and can be flicked into a sporty drive mode, in Normal it’s just a relaxed family hauler.
Vision out of the tall windows is good, and the steering is light enough that you can park it with one hand. The camera is crystal clear, and the left-hand mirror dips to show you the kerb when you’re reverse parking, so there’s no excuse to scrape those aero-styled wheels.
The days of seven-seat SUVs being thirsty, heavy trucks to drive in town are well and truly gone. Put your foot down and the 2.0-litre petrol engine feels more muscular than you’d expect of a big car with a small engine. Where the 132kW engine in the Kodiaq Sportline feels a bit strained at times, the RS has more muscle on hand.
The dual-clutch transmission is smooth off the mark, with hardly any hesitation, and the Kodiaq fares well in the traffic light drag race. It’s a bit of a sleeper, and the all-wheel drive system means there’s plenty of traction in wet conditions.
There’s no doubt it has a different character to the diesel in the previous model. Although it has enough torque to get rolling in taller gears, it does need to be worked harder if you’re in a hurry and want to really cash in on the potential promised by the RS badge.
The transmission needs to kick down one, two, three gears to lob the turbocharged engine into the meat of its torque band before it gets rolling, and needs to be worked harder than its predecessor to give you the goods.
Whether that’s a good thing will depend on your perspective. On the one hand, it’s a sporty crossover, and good sports cars need to be worked hard. On the other? It’s a big family SUV, so trading in effortless performance feels appropriate.
In its sportiest mode, the Kodiaq handles better than you’d expect of a large family crossover. The suspension stiffens up nicely, and the steering gains some weight, so you can throw the car into corners and it doesn’t fall over.
You could be fooled into thinking it’s an overgrown Golf GTI at times, although the screams from the third row are a reminder this is a different beast.
The front end has decent bite, and with the engine in its torque band slingshots nicely out of corners. Traction from the all-wheel drive system is excellent, and you’re able to keep the car singing using the plastic paddles behind the wheel.
The Volkswagen Group dual-clutch transmission is lightning quick on upshifts, and slams home downshifts better than any torque converter could hope to. It’s good day-to-day, but it really comes alive when you’re driving fast.
In Comfort mode, on the other hand, the Kodiaq just floats around. The suspension is beautifully relaxed, the steering is pinky-twirlingly light, and the fake engine sound that plagues the car in Sport is dialled back.
Even though it’s the RS, the Kodiaq is arguably at its best in Comfort. On the highway it’s incredibly comfortable, and there’s very little wind or road noise.
The driver assistance systems all work smoothly, and you don’t need to pay more in the range-topper for blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert like you do elsewhere in the range.
Kodiaq RS highlights:
- 20-inch Aero wheels
- Red brake calipers
- RS design package
- Panoramic sunroof
- Adaptive damping/chassis control
- Off-road mode
- Hands-free powered tailgate
- RS sports seats
- Front and rear heated seats
- Ventilated front seats
- Powered passenger seat w/ memory
- Carbon-style interior trim
- 360-degree camera
- Three-zone air-conditioning
- Canton 12-speaker sound system
*Some features currently unavailable due to component shortages. Read more here
That’s atop the following, which is offered elsewhere in the Kodiaq range.
Kodiaq Style highlights:
- 19-inch alloy wheels
- Space-saver spare
- Power-folding, heated mirrors
- Keyless entry and start
- Powered tailgate
- Automatic headlights and wipers
- Privacy glass, rear window sun blinds
- LED headlights with LED daytime running lights
- Silver roof rails, chrome front grille
- Door edge protectors
- Roof rails
- 9.2-inch touchscreen infotainment
- Satellite navigation
- Wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
- Wireless smartphone charging
- Virtual Cockpit digital instruments
- USB-C points x 2
- Dual-zone climate control
- Leather and leatherette upholstery
- Tablet holders on front seat backs
- Ambient interior and footwell lighting
Kodiaq Sportline adds:
- 20-inch alloy wheels
- Matrix LED headlights
- Fog lights
- Design package with black exterior trims
- Auto-dimming exterior mirrors
- Steering wheel paddles
- Alcantara/leather sports seats
- Powered, memory driver’s seat
- Alcantara door panels
- Power-adjustable driver’s seat
- Drive mode selection
- Progressive steering tune
- Aluminium pedal caps
- Performance monitor in cluster
The Kodiaq has a five-star ANCAP rating based on testing carried out in 2017.
It received an adult occupant protection score of 92 per cent, a child occupant protection score of 77 per cent, a pedestrian protection score of 62 per cent and a safety assist score of 54 per cent.
Standard safety equipment includes:
- Dual front airbags
- Front side airbags
- Rear side airbags
- Full-length side curtain airbags
- Driver’s knee airbag
- Rear knee airbag
- AEB (forward + reverse)
- Adaptive cruise control
- Driver attention monitoring
- Reversing camera
- Front and rear parking sensors
Kodiaq RS adds:
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Lane-keep assist
- Rear cross-traffic assist
- Traffic jam assist
- Emergency assist
*Some features currently unavailable due to component shortages. Read more here
The Skoda Kodiaq is backed by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, along with five years of roadside assist for those who service at their dealer.
Maintenance is required every 12 months or 15,000km, and Skoda sells prepaid service packs to keep costs down.
The first five services will set you back a combined $2000, while a seven-year package is worth $2900.
Skoda Australia sells maintenance subscription plans with prices calculated using your typical mileage. You can buy these plans to only cover servicing essentials, or a complete plan that packages all running costs (bar petrol) into a single monthly payment.
Nowhere is Skoda’s long-running Simply Clever tagline more relevant than in the Kodiaq.
It’s a practical, comfortable way to carry around a family, and wants for nothing in RS guise.
Given opting for the RS is the only way to get a properly muscular engine (rather than the serviceable, not standout option offered on the Style and Sportline) in your Kodiaq, it’s the member of the range we’d recommend.
I’m not sure the switch to petrol is a step forward relative to the previous model; it feels like more of a lateral move.
There’s no doubt it’s a more characterful engine than the diesel, and the 2022 RS feels sportier than its predecessor when you’re pushing hard… but the torquier nature of the old engine was arguably better in day-to-day driving.
Regardless of which pump you prefer your fuel from, the Kodiaq RS is big on practicality and light on rivals. It’s a winner.
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MORE: Everything Skoda Kodiaq