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ŠKODA Kodiaq vRS review

Jim McGill tests out the top of the range ŠKODA Kodiaq vRS.

The ŠKODA Kodiaq vRS.

The ŠKODA Kodiaq vRS.

I’ve always liked the big, seven-seater ŠKODA Kodiaq. It’s one of those cars which will comfortably swallow a family of five, stretch to seven, and still leave space for all the necessary kit required for a fortnight’s holiday, let alone the daily school run.

One of its great strengths has been its unpretentiousness. Externally the design is confidently understated, while inside the spacious cabin — honestly, you could lose someone in there — occupants can enjoy the benefits of a number of quality Volkswagen Group technological hand-me-downs. And in terms of handling, it’s reassuringly ‘fit for purpose’.

In many ways, it just sits there, looks big and gets on with its work without causing a fuss, or attracting unwanted attention. Well, that is until you skip to the top of the range and park the Kodiaq vRS.

Boy, the vRS makes a statement. It has that ‘don’t mess with me’ look, standing purposely and confidently on its 20-inch 'Extreme’ alloys and boasting its revised bumpers. There’s also a gloss black finish to window frames, wing mirrors, roof rails and, most prominently, the front grille. At the rear there’s big-bore dual exhaust tips, plus fore and aft red vRS badging lets everyone know this is a Kodiaq with attitude.

What’s tucked under the bonnet?

Powered by a 2.0-litre twin-turbocharged diesel engine, its 237bhp and hefty 500Nm of torque are transferred to all four wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox — there’s no manual option available — and will cover 0-62mph in 7.0 seconds. Equally comfortable in town or cruising the motorway, it’s a relaxed powerplant. And if you must, and can find a road on which to do it legally, it’ll top out at 136mph.

Perhaps just as well then that inside the cabin there are sports seats with grippy Alcantara fabric, a sports steering wheel, and aluminium pedals. Oh, and of course, anything remotely ‘sporty’ needs to have the obligatory carbon fibre-effect trim; and in the vRS, it looks pretty cool.

Just for good measure, the cabin also benefits from a virtual cockpit digital instrument panel — fitted as standard — plus a 9.2-inch touchscreen infotainment system. So far so good. In fact, way much better than good.

I suspect there might be a catch…

Perhaps it’s just worth slipping in the fact that the Kodiaq vRS starts at £44,065. As tested — with the addition of heated windscreen and washer nozzles (£340), rear view camera including full LED rear lights (£395) and panoramic sunroof £1,200) — you’re looking at £46,000.

No, it’s not cheap. And indeed, if you instead elected to buy the 190PS Sportline Kodiaq, you could not only save yourself thousands of pounds, but have a family SUV which, in real world conditions, would be 95% as fast. That combination has to be attractive to most people.

But, of course, the great thing is we’re not all the same. We’re not clones. We’re individuals, and there will always be a car in any manufacturers’ range which is targeted at the owner who wants to stand out from the crowd. That’s what the Kodiaq vRS does.

Don’t tell me – it fills a niche!

You’re ahead of me. Much as I hate to use the word, the Kodiaq vRS has indeed been created to fill a ‘niche’. I often interpret a car which fills a niche as the model created by the manufacturer — any manufacturer — just because it could. A case of: ‘Look what we can do!’

And once created, the marketing department then runs headlong into the marketplace with the sole mission of persuading the ever-narrowing group of people who purchase a car because they actually like and want something which reflects their own personality, to sign on the dotted line.

The Kodiaq vRS deserves such a signature. It’s a hoot!

We all have cars, and the vast majority of the time they’re used to meet the daily humdrum demands of everyday life. But just occasionally — and always within the parameters of what’s legal — you get the chance when it’s just you in the car, on one of your favourite roads, to have some fun. On those occasions on a wide, flowing A-road, the vRS will have you smiling, especially if you flick the dynamic chassis tech into Sport mode.

Tell me about its party piece…

We know all about the Kodiaq’s spaciousness and versatility. That’s well established. But the vRS does indeed have a party piece; a sound actuator fitted to the exhaust. What does it do? It’ll have you scratching your head in disbelief, that’s what.

Remember, the vRS is powered by a 2.0-litre diesel. The thing is, thanks to what ŠKODA refers to as its ‘Dynamic Sound Boost’, the engine note inside the cabin replicates the gurgle of a five-cylinder motor. I kid you not. You, and your occupants, will be convinced you’re driving a performance petrol-engined SUV.

Okay, stop at the car park barrier to collect your ticket, and you’ll be instantly reminded by the real engine sound that there’s a four-cylinder twin-turbo diesel tucked under the bonnet. But hey, close the window again quickly, blip the throttle, and you’re back in your virtual ‘petrol performance’ land. I love the fact ŠKODA has had the courage to create the Kodiaq vRS. Is it necessary? Of course not. Is it one of the most practical seven-seater SUVs, with a colossal boot, on the market? Definitely. Most importantly, will it put a smile on your face every time you drive it? You bet!

Spec Panel
Model ŠKODA Kodiaq vRS
Price £44,065 (As tested, £46,000)
Powertrain 1969cc 2.0-litre 4cyl, twin-turbo diesel
Power 237bhp
Torque 500Nm
Transmission Seven-speed dual-clutch auto, all-wheel drive
Top speed 136mph
0-62 mph 7.0 seconds
Economy (WLTP combined) 35.3-34.0mpg
CO2 emissions 167g/km

About the Author

Jim McGill

Follow award-winning journalist Jim McGill on Twitter and Instagram.