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MotorBar - New Car Reviews
Skoda Kodiaq vRS 2.0 BiTDI 4x4 DSG

Click to view picture gallery“If a friend told you theyd just
  bought a Skoda you
d probably nod
  politely before getting in the next
  round; if they said it was a vRS
  model you
d forget the drinks and
  be angling for a ride
...”


SUCH IS THE LURE of a fast car… And where Skodas are concerned, vRS is as fast and furious as it gets. Until very recently, vRS badges were reserved for go-faster, all-wheel drive hatch and estate versions of the brand's Octavia range.

But now it gets much more interesting because the coveted vRS badges are being attached to the SUV bodies of Skoda's award-winning and highly-praised Kodiaq range. Thankfully Skoda's blueprint for its vRS badge-carriers is all about ability and not at all about in-your-face bodykitting.

Better yet, there's nothing contrived about the Kodiaq vRS — looks-wise, it's more flawlessly-tailored James Bond than fresh-from-the-fight John McClane (Bruce Willis's Die Hard character). More aggressive vRS-specific bumpers along with plenty of gloss black garnishing, including to the vertically-slatted grille, door mirror skins and surround-trim defining the long sloping glasshouse.

Thumb the starter
button and the Kodiaq’s
vRS-ness makes itself
known: beneath the
bonnet lives a 2.0-litre
four-cylinder diesel but
fire it up and the soundtrack is more burbly V8 —
the vRS’s bassy aural
signature is all down to a
dynamic sound booster.
While it’s something
many owners will enjoy
hearing, it can easily be
silenced should you
prefer to keep your
profile more Q-car...”
At the tail there's a rear spoiler, triangular C-shaped crystalline LED rear light units and a diffuser flanked by big bore tailpipes seamlessly integrated into each corner and which hint at the herd of prancing ponies corralled under the vRS's clamshell bonnet. The side profile is enhanced by a sharply creased waistline and flat cut wheelarches filled with eye-catching black 20-inch five-'hole'-style alloy wheels with red brake callipers.

So far, so discreet. However, thumb the starter button and the Kodiaq's vRS-ness makes itself known: officially, beneath the bonnet lives a 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel but fire it up and the soundtrack is more burbly V8 — the vRS's bassy aural signature is all down to a dynamic sound booster. While it's something that many owners will enjoy hearing, it can easily be silenced should you prefer to keep your profile more Q-car.

Putting out a pretty potent 235bhp, the vRS Kodiaq's powerplant is Skoda's most powerful diesel unit to date. And it's got back-up: a muscular 368lb ft of torque. Press down hard with your right foot and, courtesy of the intelligent four-wheel drive system, you'll enjoy a squeal-free take-off that'll see you surge past the benchmark 62mph in seven seconds. Road permitting, the top speed is 137mph.

Talking of speed, should you need reassuring that this vRS Kodiaq can truly 'ace the pace' then know that it has recently recorded the fastest lap time for a seven-seater SUV around the treacherous 'Green Hell' of the Nürburgring circuit.

For most of the time, real-life traffic conditions enforce 'steady' driving but that's something the vRS is equally good at — while the impressive torque ensures that real get-up-and-go is on call whenever it's needed, the sequential turbos serve up a satisfyingly linear power delivery for that 'surfing the wave' feeling even when left to its own devices in Drive. Snick the selector into Sport and the vRS feels slickly eager; in fact, whatever your driving mood, the 2.0-litre's BiTDI-DSG 'team' will wrap around it seamlessly. And for drivers who demand absolute control, paddle-shifters have been obligingly provided on the wheel's horizontal spokes.

So does all that poke come at a hefty hit to economy? Not really. The official Combined Cycle figure for the vRS is 35.3mpg but our hard-driven week's testing saw an overall average of a smidgen under 40mpg recorded without ever trying to conserve fuel. Few owners will quibble with that given the seven-seat versatility, automatic transmission, and four-wheel drive all-weather and off-road capability.

With it's 'king of the castle' standing in the Kodiaq line-up the vRS boasts a cabin to match. Swing open the driver's door and you'll find shapely, strongly-bolstered sports seats tastefully upholstered in a mix of diamond-stitched black suede with red contrast stitching, leather, and carbon weave sections in the bolstering. The driver's chair is electrically-adjustable (with a three-memory seat-and-mirror recall) and like the passenger's, it's as supportive as it looks and remains comfortable however long you sit in it. Three-stage heating for both front seats is a given.

With it’s ‘king of the
castle’ standing in the
Kodiaq line-up the vRS
boasts a cabin to match.
Swing open the driver’s
door and you
ll find
shapely, strongly-
bolstered sports seats
tastefully upholstered
in a mix of diamond-
stitched black suede with
red contrast stitching,
leather, and carbon
weave sections in the
bolstering
...”
Hop in and settle behind the sporty flat-bottomed wheel with its grippy perforated leather rim and you'll love the commanding driving position; the view down the bonnet is first-rate, as too is visibility in all directions — something as important on the blacktop as it is off-road. Overall there's a satisfying plushness to the logically laid-out cabin enhanced by plenty of smart detailing that includes carbon-finish trim inserts to the dash and seat-matching Alcantara door panels.

With seven seats you might think roominess would have been marginalised but no, there's enough to swing the proverbial cat (not that one ever would!); and as well as plenty of personal space surrounding each front seat there's decent headroom (a full fist-and-a-half of it) while at the other extreme there's enough room in the footwell to drive while wearing the chunkiest of trekking boots.

You don't need to use a key to enter or fire up the engine — you'll find a convenient Start button on the side of the steering column in the spot where you'd usually insert a blade-key. Of course there are plenty of other labour-saving features, from all one-shot up/down power windows and a fingertip-operated electric parking brake (with a really useful auto-hold function that's just the job in stop-start traffic) to voice control for the phone, navigation, media, and radio, and efficient dual-zone climate control that's adjustable either manually or via the touchscreen.

The vRS model also gets Skoda's new Virtual Cockpit with a 10.25-inch digital display replacing the traditional instrument panel. Along with active mapping, the expected driving data and digitised dials, there's also a Sports view that places a 'rifle-sight' rev-counter dead-centre of the display with the selected gear and indispensable digital speed readout in its innermost ring. Driver information is comprehensive and called up via a dedicated button on the steering wheel.

The brand's flagship Columbus infotainment package includes a refreshingly foolproof SatNav system that's a doddle to use, with timely spoken directions and pin-sharp 3D maps and graphics on the large 9.2-inch dash-centred screen. Particularly useful, the system can pinpoint the best places to park when you arrive at your destination as well as providing traffic reports en route, weather forecasts, and highlighting nearby petrol stations, etc.

There's also a boosted signal from the integrated WiFi and no-hassle smartphone connectivity. A DVD drive, Bluetooth and DAB provide more entertainment options (for those who love their sounds, an upgrade to a 575-watt Canton high-clarity HiFi is just £405). Additionally, the infotainment system also does calendar updates and can arrange a service with your local Skoda dealer for you and, in the unfortunate event of an accident, will alert the emergency services.

Row three holds an
irresistible appeal for
kids and teens
(as well as four-legged
family members!)
and even adults can
travel there for shorter
trips. The good news is
that, unlike some other
seven-seaters, the
Kodiaq
s back row pair of
seats don
t require
Everest-conquering skills
to reach — simply tilt
and slide either side
s
second-row outer seat
for access...”
Stowing your personal 'stuff' is easy thanks to two large gloveboxes (one cooled), bottle-holding door pockets (1.5-litre front; 1.0-litre rear), a drop-down sunglasses holder, a spacious drawer-cum-coin box in the fascia, a net pouch on the central tunnel, a really big storage compartment capped by a wide, sliding and height- adjustable central armrest, a sizeable pull-out drawer under the front passenger seat plus nifty net pockets on the inside edges of the front backrests.

More well-considered touches include an umbrella holstered in each front door, a parking ticket holder, an ice scraper (sensibly located behind the fuel filler flap), protective strips that curl around the door edges as the doors open to protect your own and other people's doors, and door bottoms designed to keep your legs clean entering or exiting in messy weather.

For families, a seven-seater SUV has to be the no-brainer choice: the Kodiaq accommodates those aboard in three rows. Large door openings make easy work of getting up into the rear compartment. Like the front cabin, there's plenty of space with virtually no restrictions on headroom (it's as generous as up front) or leg, knee and foot room. Well shaped and accommodating, the nicely contoured seats are comfortable for limo-grade lounging, particularly for two amicably sharing the central padded armrest.

Boosting comfort are the multi-adjustable backrests and the ability to slide the seats up to eight inches forwards or back for bespoke passenger space. Three side-by-side in the middle row is perfectly civilised. Civilised too are the dedicated air vents and deep one-litre bottle-holding door bins, cupholders, and unrestricted views out. Along with privacy glass there's a second defence against both the sun and the paparazzi — housed in the door cappings are pull-up mesh sunblinds for the side windows. And parents ferrying youngsters will be pleased to be able to lock the back doors from the helm at the touch of a button.

Row three holds an irresistible appeal for kids and teens (as well as four-legged family members!) and even adults can travel there for shorter trips. The good news is that, unlike some other seven-seaters, the Kodiaq's back row pair of seats don't require Everest-conquering skills to reach — simply tilt and slide either side's second-row outer seat for access. When more luggage needs to be carried the two individual rearmost seats fold into the boot floor.

When it comes to kit it's fair to say that the vRS has everything you might ever need. In addition to many items mentioned throughout the review, other highlights include a full LED adaptive front light system with LED cornering front fogs, power-operated tailgate, front and rear parking sensors and rearview camera, keyless entry with push button start, auto- dimming rearview mirror, one-shot windows, powerfolding (on-demand and automatically on leaving) heated and auto-dimming door mirrors, and tinted and privacy glass.

You would expect
the hard-charging vRS
version to handle better
than any other model
in the Kodiaq stable —
and it does. Boosting its
handling repertoire
is Dynamic Chassis
Control, adaptive
suspension and Driving
Mode Select; between
them they optimise the
electronically-adjusted
suspension to match the
terrain and your driving
style. Choose between
six modes: Eco, Comfort,
Normal, Sport, Snow,
and Individual, which lets
you cherry-pick
everything from the
engine sound to the
drive dynamics...”
Also standard is digital voice enhancement (built-in microphones pick up the driver's and passengers' chat and relay them through the speakers so front and rear occupants can converse and be better heard), a two-tone horn (so those outside can also hear you clearly when they need to!), cruise control and speed limiter, aluminium pedals, tyre pressure monitoring, a full suite of airbags including one for the driver's knee, and plenty of safety and driver 'assists' such as autonomous city braking with pedestrian monitoring.

The vRS's all-wheel drive system is an 'intelligent' kind that constantly calculates the perfect power distribution — with a light load it sends driving torque only to the front wheels but the instant you need four-wheel drive you've got it; it can also transfer up to 85 per cent of the torque to one individual wheel — especially useful when driving off-road. Whatever is underfoot and whatever the weather, you can be sure that the vRS's all-wheel drive system will deliver optimum traction.

You would expect the hard-charging vRS version to handle better than any other model in the Kodiaq stable — and it does. Boosting its handling repertoire is Dynamic Chassis Control, adaptive suspension and Driving Mode Select; between them they optimise the electronically-adjusted suspension to match the terrain and your driving style. Choose between six modes: Eco, Comfort, Normal, Sport, Snow, and Individual, which lets you cherry-pick everything from the engine sound to the drive dynamics.

The vRS's steering is both responsive and accurate and it benefits from a 'progressive steering' enhancement that electronically modifies the steering ratio to best suit the car's current speed: for increased assistance and comfort at lower speeds; and when you ramp up the pace, more precision for quicker, sportier driving.

The roadholding is capable and the vRS feels satisfyingly 'hunkered-down', with cornering powers to match, resulting in a confidence-inspiring drive that's underscored by the fact that behind the scenes there's all-wheel drive and stability control systems to ensure everything stays shipshape. And to keep things tidy when descending tricky off-road slopes there's Downhill Assist — just press the 'Off Road' button by the selector lever and you'll be good to go without any slip-ups.

Given it rolls on 20-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 235/45 profile Pirellis, the vRS's compliant ride feels as comfortable as what you'll find on less sporting Kodiaq models which is more good news for those needing to cater to families.

Stand back and let the powered tailgate self-open (it struts its stuff agreeably quickly) and it will reveal a generous hold: even with seven people seated there's still a useful 231 litres available; with five sprawled across the first and second rows, the boot offers up an impressive 560-765 litres; and with just the driver and front passenger on board there's a massive 2,005-litre, seamlessly level-floored loadbay available.

Underscoring its cargo-carrying versatility is a braked towing capacity of 1,750kg. Nice touches include a sturdy divider to partition the cargo space widthways, a removable self-charging LED flashlight, and a luggage blind cassette that can be stored out of the way beneath the boot floor.

While you might, understandably, covet a £75K Audi SQ7, realistically the Kodiaq vRS will satisfy almost as much for just £43K. For the money, the Kodiaq offers a winning blend of gutsy sports performance, a roomy, comfortable and comprehensively-equipped seven-seating SUV cabin, and strong but subtle kerb appeal. What's not to like! ~ MotorBar
.
Skoda Kodiaq vRS 2.0 TDI 4x4 DSG | £42,895
Maximum speed: 137mph | 0-62mph: 7 seconds | Test Average: 39.8mpg
Power: 235bhp | Torque: 368lb ft | CO2: 167g/km

.