New car review

Skoda Kodiaq vRS test drive

Skoda’s first attempt at a performance SUV isn’t all that sporty, but that’s not bad

What’s the Skoda Kodiaq vRS like inside?

As with the outside, the styling team’s been kept on a tight leash in here. While there’s a little red stitching and carbon-fibre trim, it’s quite subtle – the biggest changes come in the form of Alcantara door cards and beefy sports seats.

Material quality is excellent and, as with all Skodas, the cabin layout and controls are a model of common sense. The central touchscreen infotainment system is great to use, while the car’s standard digital gauges are bespoke to Skoda and can be configured in several different ways.

There’s also plenty of space – although the third row is more suited to children than full-grown adults, the middle row is very spacious and there’s lots of room in the boot. The seats also fold totally flat.

What’s under the bonnet?

Diesel isn’t necessarily the obvious choice for a performance car, but given the sacrifices in fuel economy and running costs it would have meant to fit a petrol engine into this heavy seven-seater, it’s the best choice. The 2.0-litre twin-turbocharged unit pushes out 240hp and 500Nm of torque – healthy outputs, if not exactly the biggest.

Four-wheel drive and a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox come as standard, and 0-60mph is dealt with in 6.8 seconds – only around 0.6 seconds slower than a Volkswagen Golf GTI.

As for fuel economy, a claimed 35.3mpg on the WLTP testing cycle is, in our experience, optimistic. Driving carefully a 30mpg average is possible.

What’s the Skoda Kodiaq vRS like to drive?

Diesel, 4WD and an automatic gearbox isn’t the ideal recipe for an involving drive, but Skoda’s done well in keeping the big Kodiaq vRS tidy in the bends. It controls its body really well, and thanks to that four-wheel drive traction it doesn’t step out of line easily.

It’s not all that much fun, though – certainly not in the way a Porsche Macan is – but the payoff is that the Kodiaq’s a truly excellent cruiser. The ample in-gear shove makes light work of overtakes, and while the ride is firm at low speeds it’s very comfortable on faster roads – aided by supportive sports seats.

As a fast family bus, then, there are few vehicles that will do the job this effectively. Those looking for hot hatchback thrills, go elsewhere.

Verdict

Skoda hasn’t made the ultimate performance SUV here, but it wasn’t trying to – instead, it’s come up with a car that’s great to cruise in, has more than enough performance for most and can still hustle down a back road at hot-hatch pace, all in an unflustered, unflappable kind of way.

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It’s not the last word in driver thrills but there’s a lot to recommend this car as a bahnstorming family bus, provided you don’t have any issues with its high price tag.

Similar cars

Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Audi SQ5, Porsche Macan

Key specifications

Model as tested: Skoda Kodiaq vRS
Price (on-road): £43,000
Engine: 2.0-litre bi-turbo diesel
Gearbox: Seven-speed automatic
Power: 240 hp
Torque: 500 m
Top speed: 136 mph
0-60mph: 6.8 seconds
Fuel economy (combined): 35.3 mpg (WLTP)
CO2 emissions: 167 g/km

Tom Wiltshire
Tom Wiltshire
Articles by Tom Wiltshire are provided for The Car Expert by PA Media (formerly the Press Association). They include test drives of the latest new cars and features on various aspects of automotive life.

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