SKODA has proved itself thoroughly capable of building sensible and spacious high-riding family haulers with the Kodiaq and Karoq. But, the new Kodiaq vRS marks the Czech brand’s first attempt at making a truly sporty SUV.
First impressions are good. This souped-up version comes with a more aggressive bodykit than the standard Kodiaq Sportline and adds a few signature vRS hallmarks in the form of gloss-black inserts, red brake callipers and a set of whopping 20in alloy wheels.
Inside, you get a digital driver’s display instead of the more usual analogue dials, some faux carbon fibre on the dashboard and doors, and some heavily contoured sports seats with Alcantara upholstery.
Other Kodiaqs can be specced with five or seven seats but from launch, the vRS only comes with the third row in place. There’s enough room in the middle row for three six-footers to stretch out and two teenagers will have plenty of space to get comfortable in the rearmost seats.
The Kodiaq vRS’s load capacity is identical to the standard car’s too, so it’ll have no trouble swallowing a family’s luggage for a few weeks away – providing you fold the third row of seats down.
Those looking for something a little more exciting than a practical box on wheels will be happy to hear Skoda’s made plenty of changes under the Kodiaq vRS’s skin. Instead of the standard 1.5-litre petrol or 2-litre turbo diesel engines, you get a biturbo 2.0 TDI unit producing 237bhp. That’s around 50bhp more than you’ll get in the next-fastest Kodiaq, but still not quite enough to make it feel properly quick.
It’s still spritely enough to blast up a motorway slip road and breeze past other equally practical seven-seaters, though. And it comes with a sportscar-style launch control feature to help it leap off the line; reaching 62mph from rest in seven seconds flat. When you’re not contesting a traffic-light grand prix, however, you’ll find the Kodiaq vRS returns a claimed 44.1mpg – not bad for a high-riding SUV with seven seats, although attaining that figure in the real world might be a challenge.
Ironically, the Dynamic Sound Boost feature gives the Kodiaq vRS less to shout about. Designed to amplify the diesel engine’s more favourable rumbles, this “sound actuator” pipes a synthesised engine noise into the cabin (and outside to unsuspecting pedestrians). But, the subtle drone it produces won’t be enough to convince your passengers there’s a fire-breathing V8 under the bonnet.
You can lessen its intrusion by putting the Kodiaq vRS into one of its more relaxed driving modes – of which there are six. These adjust the throttle response, the settings for the four-wheel-drive system, the gear changes made by the seven-speed automatic gearbox and the stiffness of the adaptive suspension.
Unfortunately, even in its most comfortable setting the suspension still feels a little firm, especially on rough road surfaces. You’d imagine this would make the Kodiaq vRS feel more nimble than the standard car on a twisty country road, but the difference is subtle, to say the least. It’s no Porsche Cayenne, but it’s still impressively agile for such a tall SUV.
All this makes the Skoda Kodiaq vRS something of an unusual choice for a practical family car, but one that points the way to a bright future of fast Skoda SUVs.
Skoda Kodiaq vRS rivals
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