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2019 Skoda Kodiaq vRS review: hot seven-seat SUV driven

Skoda Kodiaq VRS

The Skoda Kodiaq was the Czech marque’s first foray into the crowded arena of the family SUV.

Three years on, it’s still selling well – and Skoda has expanded its SUV offering with the smaller Karoq, plus the Kamiq coming soon.

Skoda SUVs have so far been deserving of their success. They’re the cheapest of the Volkswagen Group cars with which they share underpinnings, yet similarly equipped and built to the same standard.

Skoda Kodiaq VRS

Both the Kodiaq and the Karoq are sharp-suited and handsome. Unlike many rivals, they don’t try to disguise their SUV silhouette, embracing its chunkiness with boxy proportions and bulbous wheelarches. 

Related: The Seat Tarraco is a Spanish Skoda Kodiaq

So, good looks, seven seats, lots of space, smart pricing, good equipment levels and an efficient engine line-up – what’s not to like?

Skoda Kodiaq VRS

Review over? Not quite. Meet the new top-of-the-line Nurburgring-conquering Kodiaq vRS. Specifically, £44,730-worth of Kodiaq VRS – we’ll get back to that later.

The vRS is Skoda’s version of Volkswagen’s GTI or Seat’s Cupra. It delivers different flavours of performance, though, with strong diesels available alongside potent petrols.

Seven-seat Nurburgring fighter

Skoda Kodiaq VRS

The Kodiaq is the latest to get the diesel vRS treatment, packing a twin-turbocharged 240hp 2.0-litre TDI with a seven-speed dual-clutch DSG transmission and four-wheel drive. It’ll get to 62mph in 7.0 seconds, plus a top speed of 136mph.

Skoda is keen to point out that this is the most powerful diesel engine in its history. It’s one of the main weapons with which the Kodiaq vRS won the title of fastest seven-seater around the Nurburgring Nordschleife circuit, with a time of nine minutes and 29 seconds. When not at the ‘Ring, it’ll achieve between 34 and 35mpg.

The vRS specification adds some aggression to the Kodiaq’s already agreeable looks. Blacked-out brightwork and 20-inch ‘Xtreme’ alloy wheels are suitably moody mods.

Sportier front and rear bumpers complete the look, with big metallic exhaust exits recessed into the back. Sharp LED lighting all-round comes as standard. Ignoring the juxtaposition of sporty styling with an SUV platform, it’s a looker.

Inside the Kodiaq vRS

Skoda Kodiaq VRS

Immediately evident inside are the Alcantara sports seats with quilted stitching, carbon-look material and strong bolstering. For all their attitude, they’re still nice and comfortable.

Flashes of red and Alcantara continue elsewhere, too. Look through the sportier steering wheel and you see the digital dials – exclusively standard on the vRS.

A nicely responsive 9.2-inch touchscreen handles sat-nav, digital media, radio and more. Climate controls sit below, along with various other physical controls in an intuitive layout. Depending on how you feel about touchscreen systems, the number of buttons will either feel refreshing or regressive. We’re in the former camp.

With all of the above, plus cruise control, climate control, adaptive lighting and more, the vRS is a very well-equipped car. Options fitted that we’d tick include the rear camera with full LED rear lights for £385, plus the Canton sound system for £405. The electric folding tow bar (£865) could appeal to others.

Driving the hot Skoda Kodiaq

Skoda Kodiaq VRS

Driving the Kodiaq vRS is a curious experience. The twin-turbo deployment of that 240hp and 369lb ft is seamless, but you definitely notice it. 

This is the first use of ‘Dynamic Sound Boost’ in a Skoda vRS – also known as ‘Mercedes-AMG G63 sound effects’. The bass and woofle it puts out just trundling around is amusing, but also quite odd. At speed, it could fool the lesser-informed into thinking there’s a V8 under the bonnet.

It feels every bit as fast as the figures suggest, but it’s not a scary or dramatic flavour of acceleration. A good job, then, that in spite of the tall driving position, the sporty seats keep you anchored where you need to be.

They have their work cut out for them when it comes to corners, though. The stiffer vRS in Sport mode covers ground at serious pace, doing well to mitigate typical SUV roll characteristics.

The steering is quite numb, which becomes a problem in the wet when the car’s significant weight pushes the low-profile tyres beyond their limits. There is next to no warning or sensation through the rim that you’re playing fast and loose with the available adhesion.

Skoda Kodiaq vRS verdict: four starsSkoda Kodiaq VRS

The Kodiaq VRS is an excellent car, but mostly because the Kodiaq is an excellent car.

Most of what it offers in vRS specification is available in a 190hp Sportline for much less. Sporty looks, amiable performance, generous equipment levels and a quality interior appointment are not exclusive to the vRS.

By no means is £38,250 – the amount that a Kodiaq 190 DSG Sportline costs – a small amount of money. Nevertheless, it is more than £6,000 less than a vRS, which costs from £42,895. The 190 Sportline offers more Kodiaq for your buck.

Skoda Kodiaq VRS

If you’re dedicated to the vRS life, we’d suggest the excellent Octavia vRS estate is more the practical performance car for far less cash. It’s more economical, better looking, faster and more fun to drive.

A full-fat Octavia Estate vRS Challenge will cost you £31,300, in fact. That’s a healthy £11,000 less than kick-off in a Kodiaq vRS. We also reckon the Kodiaq looks better in the chunky ‘Scout’ spec, but that’s your call.

Skoda Kodiaq VRS

Five 2019 Skoda Kodiaq vRS rivals

  • Skoda Kodiaq 190 Sportline
  • Skoda Octavia vRS Estate
  • Cupra Ateca
  • Audi SQ5
  • BMW X3 M

How much did our test car cost?

Skoda Kodiaq vRS 2.0 TDI 240PS 4×4 DSG: £44,730

Skoda Kodiaq GT

Skoda Kodiaq GT is the Czech China-only Lamborghini Urus

Skoda Kodiaq GTYes, you read that right. Skoda has unveiled sketches of a chopped Kodiaq named the GT. And in silhouette and window line, at least, we are indeed seeing elements of the 670hp Lamborghini Urus dune stormer.

It’s a preview of what Skoda calls an ‘SUV offensive’ intended to further fuel Skoda’s presence in China. Indeed, the ‘dynamic coupe version’ will only be available in China.

It will be part of a four-pronged Chinese SUV offering, joining the China-exclusive Kamiq and, of course, the Kodiaq and Karoq that we’re already familiar with.

Skoda Kodiaq GT

China is, in fact, the largest global market for the Czech marque – it accounts for one in every four built. As such, these two exclusive SUVs should go some way to continuing Skoda’s strong presence.

Ample investment is fuelling Skoda’s new model drive. As part of its Strategy 2025, the marque’s SUV portfolio, as well as alternative-drive vehicles, is receiving a hefty two-billion-euro investment.This follows the name reveal of Skoda’s forthcoming Golf rival, the Scala.

Skoda Kodiaq GT

Of course, bar its Volkswagen parentage, the twin-turbo V8 Lamborghini Urus and the Skoda Kodiaq GT are unlikely to share much. Think what you like of the sporty exhausts recessed up in the bumper in the rendering: underneath, it’ll probably be familiar Kodiaq. Expect very little beyond the usual range of four-cylinder engines, and the usual manuals and DSG transmissions.

Not that much of this is relevant anyway. As above, we’re probably not getting it in the UK. Looks like you’ll have to settle for the Urus after all.

Read more:

Skoda Kodiaq

Skoda Kodiaq prices start from £21,495

Skoda KodiaqHere’s a jaw-dropper for you – new Skoda Kodiaq prices will start from £21,495 when ordering opens in November 2016. For a large seven-seat SUV, that’s remarkable, no?

Just one small issue. The £21,495 Kodiaq, er, doesn’t actually have seven seats. You can only get them on SE models, and then only if you pay £1,000 more. So if you really want to get a seven-seat Skoda SUV, you have to pay from £23,945. Cheeky Skoda.

Ordering for the big new Skoda 4×4 will be for deliveries starting in April 2017: at launch, Skoda’s selling it in four trims, with several engines, creating a line-up of 24 separate models.

Skoda Kodiaq revealed at Paris Motor Show

Skoda reveals Kodiaq seven-seat SUV interior

Skoda changes town name in Kodiaq stunt

All models get standard air con, 17-inch alloys, LED running lights, DAB radio, smartphone connectivity and touchscreen infotainment. So the £21,495 ‘S’ variant is no stripped-out entry special, either.

SE models, as mentioned, cost from £22,945, and include bigger 18-inch alloys, rear parking sensors, dark rear glass, cruise control and a fancier touchscreen system. Cruise control, climate control and rain plus light sensors are standard.

We’ve covered the optional seats bit…

Want something fancier still? SE L models are priced from £28,595 and have seven seats (hurrah!), all of them trimmed in Alcantara, plus 19-inch alloys, sat nav, wifi, heated front seats and LED headlights.

You want more, don’t you. OK, how about the launch Edition? That has full leather, Lane Assist, blind spot detection, wireless charging, an alternative 19-inch alloy wheel design, metallic paint and chrome roof rails. It costs from £30,695. Which is still a whole heap of cash less than a new Land Rover Discovery.

Engines? Pick from a 1.4-litre TSI petrol with either 125hp or 150hp (the latter has ACT cylinder deactivation), or a 2.0-litre TSI with 180hp.

Diesels will sell best though: they’re all 2.0-litre TDIs with either 150hp, 190hp or, a little later, 115hp.

Base 125hp petrol and 115hp diesel Kodiaqs drive only the front wheels, but most of the others have four-wheel drive. Choose from either manual or DSG automatic gearboxes.

There’s a whole host of Skoda-first features available on the Kodiaq, but one of our favourites is one of the most practicality-focused: a door edge protection system. When you open the door, it pops out, to stop you scratching the door edge on walls. Shut the door and it slides back out of view.

It’s one of 30 ‘Simply Clever’ features on the new Kodiaq, from ice scrapers in the fuel filler flap to umbrellas in the doors – and seven of them, including those door edge protectors are new to the big Skoda SUV.

Skoda Kodiaq interior

Skoda reveals Kodiaq 7-seat large SUV interior

Skoda Kodiaq interior

Skoda has revealed the interior of its new seven-seat Kodiaq SUV ahead of its world debut in Berlin this week and public debut at the 2016 Paris Motor Show later this month.

The inside of the Nissan X-Trail rival appears to be pleasingly upmarket: something that will come as no surprise to anyone who’s sat inside the firm’s latest Superb model.

We can see a familiar VW Group infotainment screen in the centre of the dash, bordered by chunky air vents and a myriad of safety assistance buttons.

It’s practical, too – its 4.7-metre length and 1.88-metre width aiding a 720-litre boot space (increasing to 2,065-litres with the seats folded).

For the first time in a Skoda, the Kodiaq will be available with seven seats: squaring it firmly against the Kia Sorento and Hyundai Sante Fe.

Skoda Kodiaq interior

Based on the same flexible MQB platform as the latest Volkswagen Tiguan and Skoda Superb, the large SUV is expected to start at around £25,000.

Engine line-ups are yet to be confirmed, although expect a variety of familiar VW Group petrol and diesels. It’s also likely to be offered with four- and two-wheel drive.

Orders for the Skoda Kodiaq will open after September’s Paris Motor Show, with deliveries expected in the UK from early 2017.

Video: How Skoda renamed a town (for a day)

Watch Kodiak become Kodiaq for the Skoda Kodiaq