Kodiaq Moments : 2022 Skoda Kodiaq RS 2.0 TSI 4x4 First Drive Review
Kuantan, Malaysia - When I got whiff our pals at Skoda Singapore were planning a drive from Singapore to Kuantan with its fleet of vRS models, I quickly threw my name into the hat.
I’ve been meaning to spend some meaningful time with the Octavia RS (especially up North where it could really roam free and hang loose), largely because our staffer Jay has been hogging all the local Octavia RS drives!
What made this occasion more special was the fact that it was to be the first outing of the RS in Combi (Skoda-speak for wagon) guise – a huge fan fave among us petrolheads.
Best of all, it would enjoy an unfettered run on the long sweeping roads from the Second Link all the way to the Hyatt Regency Kuantan Resort end-point – the stuff of proper grand touring dreams.
Butttt… and here’s the big ‘but’ and we're not talking about the Octavia Combi RS's peachy big butt either!
With colleague Clif coming along, we had to draw straws to determine who would have the good fortune of savouring the sporty Skoda stationwagon on this sojourn up North.
Well, this short one ended up with the short straw and on the day of departure from the Skoda showroom, yours truly found himself steered firmly away from the hunky Octavia RS Combi and in the direction of the largest car in the RS fleet – the Kodiaq RS.
Unlike the ‘look-at-me’ Cupra, Formentor and what-have-you Seat equivalents, I’ve always found the sporty Skodas to be stealthy, subtle and sophisticated.
If anything, Skoda RS models are proper under-the-radar ‘Q-cars’ that never fail to deliver the goods… and in the case of the Combi, that’s literally as well as figuratively!
What does RS mean for Škoda?
In case you’re wondering, the ‘vRS’ emblem on the cars stands for Victory Rally Sport.
However, we’re told the ‘v’ is silent so it’s perfectly fine to refer to the Skoda vRS models as RS too – in fact they’re referred to as such in a lot of the sales and marketing material.
In Skoda’s case, ‘RS’ refers to its most sporty road machines, which serve up punchy performance, but are more on-road boisterous than track-ready ballistic.
Some people mistakenly think the Skoda RS models are intended to be hardcore, track-attack specials.
In reality, they are composed and balanced performance all-rounders that dish out enough fast-road engagement to keep the petrolhead entertained, yet won’t break the bank or the back in the process.
To some extent, we reckon the brand should keep the ‘v’ in vRS, because it empowers Skoda’s offerings by providing pundits with a stronger distinction from the brands that have become synonymous with the ‘RS’ emblem.
Up close and personal, I feel even smaller standing beside the hulking 1.8+-tonne kerbweight Kodiaq RS.
However, I have to admit the Kodiaq RS conceals its 4699 x 2087 x 1687mm seven-seater proportions and 1.9-tonnes kerbweight very well.
This feeling is reinforced when you’re piloting it around, regardless of whether you’re in the tight confines of the city, or bombing down the B-roads.
Compared to its Plain Vanilla Kodiaq siblings, the powerfully poised Kodiaq RS gets the go-faster trappings, such as the larger, more upright front grille and RS-specific bumper with its oversized air-dams.
All in, they do an admirable job of intimidating the slow-pokes out of your path as they see the behemoth bearing down on them in the rear-view mirror.
The 20-inch ‘Sagitarius’ alloy rims are engineered for aero-efficiency with removable ‘Aero’ trim, but features perforations on them to provide ventilation for the brakes.
We never had the last gen Kodiaq RS in Singapore, which was powered by a turbodiesel 2.0-litre with 240hp/500Nm. It made the news in 2018 when the late Queen of the ’Ring, Sabine Schmitz, made a record run in 9 minutes, 29 seconds and 84 hundredths of a second to claim the title of fastest seven-seater SUV around the Nurburgring.
More crucially, we’re told the petrol engine weighs 60kg less than the previous TDI, with the snappy new 7spd DSG transmission shaving another 5.2kg off the previous car’s kerbweight.
With this much weight-loss from the front of the car, the Kodiaq RS is surprisingly spritely when you’re tackling the ebb and flow of the long and winding roads… and the roads were most assuredly long and winding all the way to Kuantan, so there was plenty of opportunity to work both engine and chassis to one’s satisfaction.
Compared to the narrow (albeit characteristically TDI) operating rev range of its TDI predecessor, which excelled in the low- to mid-range, the turbo’d petrol four-pot in the new Kodiaq RS can be wrung to a heady 6+k rpm.
This means it’ll play the part of a performance car quite convincingly, especially as you’re punching your way through the ratios of the slick-shifting dual-clutch gearbox.
In fact, even before hitting the halfway mark to the Hyatt Regency Kuantan Resort, this author found himself getting very attached to the Kodiaq RS – short-straw at the start, but definitely not short-changed!
The cabin feels properly posh, with snug, quilted leather sports seats and a fully-digitalised Virtual Cockpit dash.
On the move, we like how the Kodiaq RS has hard buttons for important features like the Drive Mode and recirculation feature for the climate control, as opposed to having it buried within the touchscreen interface.
Although it will gladly accommodate seven comfortably on cross-country jaunts, we had at most four to five on-board at any one point.
This meant we could keep the third-row folded flat to create a voracious load area to gobble up our barang-barang for the overnight stay.
With just three DCC (Dynamic Chassis Control) settings (compared to the 15 or so available on the Octavia RS’s sliding scale), there’s little to fuss with to score a perfect ride and excellent body control on the Kodiaq RS.
It was always composed, well-damped and unruffled regardless of the diverse repertoire of roads we traversed, which spanned pockmarked-riddled tarmac, sandy beach trails and unfinished, heavily cratered surfaces.
To this author, bonding over food is one of the best forms of fellowship and a handful of us enjoyed our ‘Kodak’ moment when we snuck out on the last morning in Kuantan (in the Kodiaq, no less!) for a quick (and necessary) hit of local food.
Not only was the Kodiaq a doddle to pilot and park in the narrow roads just outside the Kedai Kopi Ah Soon kopitiam, but the curry Yong Tau Foo we popped out to eat was chock-a-block with ingredients to create an unpretentious, intensely flavourful and satisfyingly multi-sensory experience… just like the Kodiaq RS is to drive.
And that’s the crux of it all really – the Kodiaq is a flavourful, fun-to-drive crossover that isn’t just one-dimension fast, but multidimensional simply because of its ability to hit hard on so many fronts.
At about S$285k (price correct at time of writing), there aren’t many fast-road 4x4 crossover contenders that offer the same potent mix of seven-seat space and prodigious pace as the Kodiaq RS.
This smooth operator is cool, collected and never comes across as trying too hard in terms of design or drive.
Yet it will gladly devour winding roads and highways alike without breaking a sweat so you can arrive in perfect condition for the next Kodiaq moment.
PHOTOS Skoda / Cliff Chow / Lionel Kong / Leow Ju-Len
2022 Skoda Kodiaq 2.0 TSI RS 4x4
Engine 1984cc, inline4, turbo
Top Speed 233km/h
Transmission 7spd DSG dual-clutch auto
Fuel Consumption 8.6-8.9l/100km