A production version of the ŠKODA KODIAQ RS, ŠKODA’s large SUV, set off to conquer the almost 21 kilometres of this legendary racetrack in the west of Germany. As the car has yet to make its world première, its design details were camouflaged in white film emblazoned with the legend “ŠKODA Record Day” to tell one and all why the car was at the Nürburgring.

The Nordschleife is normally reserved for sports cars and super sports cars, agile hatchbacks and cars with various special modifications. Why not give an SUV a run on the legendary circuit, though? Sounds like a crazy idea. But ŠKODA went for it.

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In order to clock up the fastest possible time, the ŠKODA team left nothing to chance. A nimble car needs a nimble driver, which is why a woman intrinsically linked to the Nürburgring got behind the wheel of this sporty SUV. Few people can boast as deep a knowledge of this circuit as racing driver Sabine Schmitz, still the only woman to have won the 24 Hours Nürburgring, who has completed more than 30,000 laps of the track in all manner of cars.

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“The Nordschleife has so many stories to tell. It’s an unbelievable racetrack. Everybody has heard of it. It’s so famous. So many dramatic things have happened here – both bad and good. To drive a car here is such a great feeling. You are battling with the track and the weather. Sometimes it’s sunny, but with heavy rain five kilometres ahead. I've even raced in the snow here. The circuit is very long and unpredictable. It’s a challenge,” says Schmitz as she describes the track.

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The seven-seater all-wheel drive SUV had no special engineering ahead of its record attempt. It was precisely the same version that will be unveiled to the public in October and then go on sale.

“The car looks sporty and the drive is sporty. I thought a seven-seater would not be so easy to handle, especially on a demanding circuit like the Nordschleife, but I have great feelings about it. It drives well. I’m really impressed. This car is absolutely stock, so we didn’t change anything. I think that if we break the lap record, it should be in a car that is available for sale. Otherwise it doesn’t make any sense. I want to show people how good a car they can buy,” explained Sabine Schmitz, complimenting the KODIAQ RS.

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The car’s quality is confirmed by František Drábek, who, as Head of Product Line Compact, knows every inch of the ŠKODA KODIAQ RS, the car prepared for the record run. František Drábek will sit next to Sabine Schmitz, as there is surely no one more qualified to ride in the front passenger seat for this record attempt.

“The RS denotes rally sport and reflects the ŠKODA brand’s motorsport history. People who pursue an active lifestyle will love the KODIAQ RS. A single car enables them to ferry their family around safely and yet also race on a circuit like this one,” says Drábek as he briefly characterises the vehicle.

“The Nordschleife is the hardest race track in the world. So much work goes into making a car fast here. The engineers did a very good job to make a stock car go fast here. I felt very comfortable from the beginning, which I really hadn’t expected,” said Schmitz ahead of her record drive. “The KODIAQ RS has been tested on several circuits in Europe during its development. I have no worries,” says Drábek, showing his unconcealed confidence in the car.

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The place that sets every motoring fan’s heart racing welcomed Sabine Schmitz, František Drábek and the ŠKODA KODIAQ RS with weather rather out of the ordinary for the Nordschleife – it was bright and sunny all day long.

At around two o’clock in the afternoon, it was time to pump up the ŠKODA KODIAQ RS’s own heart – a new 2.0 BiTDI engine delivering 176 kW, or 239 PS, its sporty growl compounded by the Dynamic Sound Boost system – as it got ready to battle the Nordschleife record.

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Kodiaq-RS-front-view-drive

On the Nordschleife’s starting line, where adrenaline junkies who have paid to drive round the track in their own – often tuned – cars usually make their entry, is the definitive version of the ŠKODA KODIAQ RS SUV, with Sabine Schmitz at the wheel and František Drábek in the passenger seat. There are five more seats in the two rows behind them. “My style? I always try to be as quick as possible,” says Schmitz with a smile as she betrays her plan. “Why not? I like to do something extra,” she says as she explains why she sat behind the wheel for the record attempt. “The plan to set the record? Full throttle and stay on the track,” she laughs as she goes into more detail about how to set the record. “Brake as late as possible before the turn and then accelerate as soon as possible,” she adds a little more seriously.

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Sabine Schmitz enables sport mode, the start flag flies up from the bonnet, and the ŠKODA KODIAQ RS starts haring off around the track. Sabine Schmitz has no intention of going easy on the car. She’s driving at full throttle, always braking only at the last possible moment. She follows the ideal geometric line as she takes the turns, ensuring that the car loses no speed. The KODIAQ RS twists, climbs and descends with ease. At the start line, doubling as the finish line, the seconds edge upwards on the timer.

Sabine Schmitz’s confidently drives the car through challenging sections of the iconic circuit at high speed. The KODIAQ RS zooms through the Fuchsröhre, Schwedenkreuz, Laudas Corner and the legendary Karussel. This sporty SUV is truly athletic. At the wheel, Sabine Schmitz harnesses its powers to the full as she races against time. The white-camouflaged seven-seater SUV flies over the track towards the finish. It comes into view at the beginning of the home stretch. Everyone is desperate to know if it can beat the clock. After all, that’s why the KODIAQ RS is here.

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The team at the finish line looks impatiently on, waiting for the KODIAQ RS to loom into sight. The tension mounts as they gaze from the horizon to the timer and back again. At last! The SUV appears on the horizon and approaches fast. The car swishes past the line at way more than 200 km/h.

The chequered flag signals the end of the lap. All team members’ eyes spontaneously follow the car as it passes. Then they stare at the timer. It’s stopped at 9 minutes, 29 seconds and 84 hundredths of a second. The ŠKODA KODIAQ RS is a record-breaker! It’s the fastest seven-seater SUV to complete the Nordschleife!

“Wow, I had fun,” smiles Sabine Schmitz. “It was fast,” acknowledged Drábek. “The car was very stable, the brakes worked perfectly. We had a lot of fun,” added the driver. “I felt safe the whole time,” said Drábek, singing her praises. “I should hope so,” laughed Schmitz.

The new ŠKODA SUV has risen to the occasion at this legendary racetrack with flying colours, proved how sporty it is, and shown that there are many reasons to look forward to the ŠKODA KODIAQ RS at its world première in the autumn.

Sabine Schmitz

Sabine Schmitz is a professional racing driver and an expert when it comes to the Nordschleife. Not only did she grow up and live near the track, but has also been the only woman so far to win the 24 Hours Nürburgring. She has become a presenter of motoring shows on German TV, and has also featured on the BBC’s Top Gear.

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Nürburgring – Nordschleife

The legendary racetrack was built between 1925 and 1927 by roughly three thousand workers near the Eifel mountain range in the west of Germany. The track, 20.832 kilometres long, incorporates 73 turns, 33 of which are left turns and 40 are right turns. The difference in elevation between the lowest and highest points on the track is approximately 300 metres. Formula One Champion Sir Jackie Stewart dubbed it the “Green Hell”. The circuit is used by carmakers for tests, and is also open to the general public and their cars.

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