Review: Skoda Kodiaq vRS (2019)
Based on award-winning Skoda Kodiaq. Combines practicality with performance.
Starts at around £43,000. Firm ride. Fake noise can get irritating. Doesn't feel that quick.
Skoda Kodiaq vRS (2019): At A Glance
If you long for an old school hot hatch but need a practical SUV for carrying the family, the Skoda Kodiaq vRS is for you. It's a £43,000 seven-seater, powered by a twin-turbocharged 2.0-litre diesel engine producing 240PS and a hefty 500Nm of torque.
While Skoda makes bold claims about the Kodiaq vRS's abilities on a race track, we're more interested in the fact that it's based on our 2019 SUV of the Year - which means it's going to be pretty good. And it is. The interior's just as practical as the standard model, and there are the same clever touches and soft-touch materials that make it feel surprisingly premium.
Sporty details unique to the vRS include Alcantara sports seats and carbon-effect trim on the inside. On the outside, meanwhile, there are 20-inch alloy wheels as standard and bespoke front and rear bumpers.
With 240PS, you'd expect it to feel pretty rapid. It's no slouch, but its bulky dimensions mean it's doesn't exactly shove you back in your seat. It's only available with a DSG gearbox, and that suits it well - changing gears quickly and dropping down readily when required.
Under normal driving, the Kodiaq vRS is noticeably firmer than other models. That's amplified if you select the sport drive mode, which also ramps up the Dynamic Sound Boost (also known as fake noise). Left in one of the multiple comfort-focused drive modes it's compliant enough, if not as relaxing as a standard Kodiaq.
The result of this is a car that's quite a keen handler for an SUV of its size. The steering is direct, and you can feel the four-wheel-drive system shifting power between the axles during hard cornering. It doesn't roll around too much, but there's no hiding the fact it's an SUV. It's never going to be as rewarding as a sports car or hot hatch.
In terms of fitting the brief, the Skoda Kodiaq vRS performs well. It's just as versatile as the regular Kodiaq, and that extra performance means it can be fun to drive. It's expensive, though, and under day-to-day driving we suspect most buyers would be happier with one of the other models in the Kodiaq range.
What does a Skoda Kodiaq vRS (2019) cost?
Skoda Kodiaq vRS (2019): What's It Like Inside?
While the regular Kodiaq is available as a five- or seven-seater, the vRS is only sold as a seven-seater in the UK. It works best if you use it as a five-seater, with the third row of seats dropped into the floor. This leaves a generous 715-litre boot, easily accessed with a large opening (although obviously higher than an estate car).
Kids will be quite happy in the third row of seats, but in truth they're best saved for occasional use. Access is tricky and there's not a great deal of headroom, while the boot is a rather paltry 230 litres with the rear-most seats in use.
The front two rows of seats are comfortable and roomy, with that high seating position giving driver and passengers a good view of the road ahead. There are loads of useful features, too, such as the umbrellas in the front doors, an electrically operated boot and a piece of rubber to protect the edge of doors.
The standard Kodiaq feels surprisingly premium and, as you'd expect, the vRS adds a number of sporting touches. The dash is covered in carbon-effect trim which may or may not to be your tastes, while the standard Alcantara sports seats look like they're out of a race car.
The brand's Virtual Cockpit system is standard on the vRS. This is a slick digital display that replaces conventional dials behind the steering wheel. Unique to the Kodiaq vRS is an additional Sport display mode, which positions the speedometer and rev counter in the centre of the screen. The radio station and navigational information are displayed alongside.
Standard equipment (at launch):
The Kodiaq vRS features 20-inch alloy wheels, headlight washers, vRS front and rear bumpers, black roof rails, dual exhaust pipes, metallic paint, alarm, keyless start/stop, rear brake discs, ISOFIX child seat fittins on outer middle seats, rear seats split 60:40, speed limiter, Alcantara sports seats, carbon finish dashboard and door inserts, three-spoke leather sports multi-function steering wheel, Virtual Cockpit, tinted windows, electric front and rear windows, heated front seats, aluminium pedals, LED interior lights, cruise control, DAB radio, Bluetooth, navigation with 9.2-inch touchscreen display, SmartLink+ (with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto), dynamic chassis control, dynamic sound booster, front parking sensors, light assist with high beam control, dual-zone climate control, rear parking sensors, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, privacy glass, umbrella in door panel, heated rear window.
Child seats that fit a Skoda Kodiaq vRS (2019)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the Skoda Kodiaq vRS (2019) like to drive?
The Kodiaq vRS is only available with one engine: a 2.0-litre twin-turbocharged diesel producing 240PS. It's the most powerful diesel engine ever used in a Skoda, but it's also used in the Volkswagen Tiguan and Tiguan Allspace.
While it feels like a step up from the 190PS model, it lags behind the Cupra Ateca in terms of thrills. It might have a 0-62mph time of 6.9 seconds, but it never feels quite so urgent. It can pull away pretty rapidly and overtakes are rarely an issue but, if you trade your Civic Type R in for a Kodiaq vRS, you're going to be disappointed.
If you treat is as a normal Kodiaq with a useful amount of extra power, it starts to make sense. The extra torque could prove useful for lugging a caravan, for example - though it's actually not rated to tow as much as the 190 model.
Not that the Dynamic Sound Boost feature will let you forget that you're driving a Kodiaq with a vRS badge. It pipes fake noise through the speakers. Even when you're bimbling at low speeds in comfort mode, there's a noticeable rumble from the speakers. This increases when you select sport (or even snow) mode.
In terms of handling, the Kodiaq vRS remains surprisingly composed for an SUV of this size. The steering is nicely weighted, while the Kodiaq doesn't lean too much in the bends - giving you plenty of confidence to make progress, if that's your thing.
On the motorway, it's just as refined as a standard Kodiaq, save for the tell-tale rumble of the larger wheels. It doesn't feel too focussed, pleasingly, meaning your family won't start to despise you on a longer journey.
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