The Skoda Kodiaq has proven itself a spacious and practical SUV. This vRS model adds more performance and style to the mix, but it can be uncomfortable and it looks quite pricey
Do you want strong performance but without big fuel bills? Keen handling, but also great space and practicality? Well, the Skoda Kodiaq vRS is here to fulfil your wishes.
Based on the Skoda Kodiaq we already know to be brilliantly practical and spacious, the vRS adds a previously unavailable 2.0-litre diesel engine with two turbochargers for better response producing 240hp, yet also officially managing 44.1mpg. A seven-speed automatic gearbox and all-wheel drive are standard, which, all together, results in a spritely 0-62mph time of 7.0 seconds.
On the outside the Kodiaq vRS doesn’t look dissimilar to the already-available Sportline trim, however, setting it apart are a set of striking 20-inch alloy wheels, unique bumpers, red brake calipers, red vRS badges and plenty of gloss black trim for a more aggressive look. Inside, you’ll see lashings of carbon-effect trim, carbon-leather sports bucket-style seats, a heated flat-bottomed sports steering wheel, sports pedals and more gloss black.
You can’t help but notice Skoda’s touchscreen infotainment system in the centre of the dashboard. The 9.2-inch screen is bright and crisp and responsive to inputs such as swiping and pinching. DAB radio, Bluetooth, USB connections are all included, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to mirror your smartphone, although even Skoda’s standard menu system is very easy to navigate.
There’s an enormous amount of space in the front of the Skoda Kodiaq vRS, with enough adjustment on the seat and steering wheel for anyone to get comfy. And, regardless of your height, you’ll get a good view of the road ahead thanks to the raised driving position. The driver’s and front passenger seats also come with adjustable lumbar support, which is a nice touch.
The second row of seats will be comfortable even for six-footers, because of the acres of knee room and head room back there. There’s loads of space under the front seats for your passengers’ feet, too, and all cars get reclining middle-row seats for even more comfort. Admittedly, the central seat is a little bit raised and a little firm, so it’s not quite so comfy if you are in the middle row and you are sitting alongside two adults.
Every Skoda Kodiaq vRS seats seven people (there’s no five-seat option). The middle row of seats slide forwards once you’ve folded down the seat backs, which helps anyone jumping into the rearmost seats. For adults to fit in the rearmost seats, you’ll have to push the middle row forwards, but even then head and knee room will be cramped at best.
With all seven seats upright, the Skoda Kodiaq vRS’s boot only has as much space as a VW Polo – about 270 litres, but that’s still just enough room to squeeze a stroller and a few soft bags in the boot. When you fold down that rearmost pair, you have 630 litres to play with. That’s easily enough for three large suitcases plus some extra small soft bags.
I’m not sure about this fake engine noise. OK, so a diesel will never sound overtly sporty, but in some ways the vRS’s artificial sound is worse.
Now, about that new diesel engine. In truth, despite having 50hp more than the current fastest diesel of the range, the new vRS doesn’t feel alarmingly quick. It’s noticeably faster, yes, but it doesn’t press you back in your seat as you might have expected given the car’s sporting pretence. You won’t be using your vRS’s launch mode very often, then, but it still feels effortlessly swift up a motorway slip road or when passing slower traffic.
More frustrating, is Skoda’s Dynamic Sound Boost, which is intended to enhance the car’s exhaust note using a clever sound actuator. You can hear it inside and outside the car, but it isn’t particularly convincing. Don’t expect to fool anybody into thinking there’s a huge petrol V8 under the bonnet.
And while the Skoda Kodiaq vRS is good to drive, it isn’t markedly better than the Sportline it supersedes. Skoda has given the Skoda Kodiaq vRS unique suspension and steering settings, as well as a Sport traction control mode which allows more slip and more powerful brakes. Selecting Sport driving mode adds weight to the steering, firms the suspension and makes the accelerator and gearbox more responsive.
In reality, you won’t be grinning from ear to ear on a race track, but the car’s good grip, nicely weighted steering and decent body control does allow you to cover ground quickly and confidently given the car weighs approaching two tonnes. It’s not outright fun, though, and those 20-inch wheels mean that the vRS feels firm over some lumps and bumps in town, even in its Comfort driving mode.
If it’s outright driving thrills you’re after, then, the Skoda Kodiaq vRS isn’t the right choice. But for buyers after style, space and pace, it ticks those boxes. Just beware that at around £43,000, it’s the most expensive Kodiaq by some margin. Keep in mind that a Skoda Kodiaq Sportline is cheaper, looks nearly as aggressive on the road and comes with just as much space.
If you are set on the vRS, make sure you visit our deals pages for the best discounts.