Earlier this month WE REVIEWED THE ŠKODA OCTAVIA, which I was so bold as to proclaim “the skier’s car for Europe.” Now it’s time to take a look at its bigger brother: the Škoda Kodiaq.
While I was giving the Octavia a trial run, my colleague Christian Stadler tested the 2021 Kodiaq RS. Since Christian’s daily routine involves sunrise touring missions, climbing trips and hikes throughout the Austrian Alps, he’s just the right man to gauge the Kodiaq’s compatibility with the mountain lifestyle.
First things first, let’s get those two letters, “RS,” out of the way. RS stands for “rally sport” and signifies, in essence, a more tuned-up version of the base model. That includes sport seats and steering wheel, a modified chassis and a beefed-up 2.0 TSI/180 kW engine. In other words—it’s fast. The Kodiaq RS is the first SUV from Škoda to carry the designation.
Needless to say, that makes it a fun car to drive in the mountains, Christian says: “It feels like a really sporty car, even though it’s an SUV.” But even more than the horsepower, he enjoyed the all-wheel drive, which, combined with generous clearance and robust suspension, makes the Kodiaq an able platform for all kinds of rugged mountain adventures.
On the highway, Christian enjoyed the advantages of Škoda’s driver assistance features, like Lane Assist and Cruise Control. “You have to keep your hands on the steering wheel, but it can basically drive itself,” he says. “In the beginning it’s hard to trust, but after a while you get comfortable with it—especially for long drives.”
Christian also found the Kodiaq’s interior details convincing. “The sound system is sick!” he says. On cold winter mornings, he also enjoyed the steering wheel heating, as well as the heating on every seat in the car—even the backseat.
We put the Kodiaq to work hauling athletes during the Gaptastic Voyage. Needless to say, there was plenty of room for everyone.
Everywhere you look, there’s plenty of little details that make the Kodiaq stand out. One not-so-common feature that Christian was impressed with: the unique door protector system. Whenever you open any of the four side doors, a small plastic piece slides out of the door frame to shield the edge of the door. This prevents you from dinging up the car next to you in the parking lot, or putting a dent in your own car.
So is the Kodiaq Christian’s dream car? Not exactly. While it’s a fun drive, he says that it’s simply “too much car” for many people. “It has a ton of horsepower—more than most people need,” he says. While that can make for an adrenaline-fueled driving experience, that power only really becomes necessary if you’re hauling a lot of gear. “If you have a trailer or a boat, then it makes more sense.”
The biggest downside for Christian was the fuel economy. “If you’re driving sporty on mountain roads, you’re going to burn a lot of gas,” he points out. In today’s climate, that’s not something to forget about—not in terms of your wallet, or in terms of the planet.
In sum, the Kodiaq RS is a big, bold, sporty SUV that’ll go everywhere you need it go, and get you there in comfort, with copious room for any gear you want to bring with you. Whether or not you actually need all that space and all that power? That’s another question.