Skoda Kodiaq vRS long-term test review
The Skoda Kodiaq vRS is the Czech brand’s first ever sports SUV. So, what’s it like to live with?...
The car Skoda Kodiaq vRS Run by Steve Huntingford, editor
Why it’s here To see if Skoda’s first attempt at a sports SUV is special enough to justify its big price tag
Needs to Offer a sporty drive and a premium feel without sacrificing the comfort and practicality that Skoda is more commonly associated with
List price £43,390 Target Price £42,483 Price as tested £45,355 Contract hire £524 Miles 6242 Official economy 35.3mpg Test economy 37.8mpg Dealer price now £34,756 Private price now £30,895 Trade-in price £32,040 Options fitted Panoramic sunroof (£1175), Canton sound system (£405) and rear-view camera including full LED rear lights (£385)
19 July – Final report
A sumo star is never going to be able to outsprint Usain Bolt or beat Sir Mo Farah over 10,000 metres, but that doesn’t mean the wrestler isn’t a sportsman. And similarly, I have to disagree with those who question the point of sporty SUVs just because these big, heavy machines aren’t as agile as the best bespoke performance cars.
Take the Kodiaq vRS that I’ve been running for the past few months. It manages to feel nicely balanced on winding roads, thanks to tight body control (when you select Sport mode), precise steering and the way the four-wheel drive system can divert extra power rearwards when necessary to stop the front end running wide.
And although I’ve no doubt Skoda’s engineers could have made it sharper still by stripping out weight and fitting very stiff suspension, it’s actually far more appealing for them not having done this, given that the result would have been a noisy and uncomfortable car – not to mention one that still wouldn’t have been at home on a race rack.
In fact, thanks to standard adaptive dampers that let you soften the suspension when you’re not in a hurry, the vRS actually rides better than plenty of cars that aren’t remotely sporty, despite it having huge, 20in alloy wheels.
Add in an engine that delivers decent performance and sounds great, yet returned almost 38mpg in my hands, and I’d argue that in most respects the Kodiaq vRS is the epitome of what a sports SUV should be: enjoyable to drive, without sacrificing the qualities that make SUVs so popular in the first place.
In the case of the Kodiaq, those qualities include a smartly finished interior with space for seven people and the family dog. Alternatively, you can fold its third-row seats away to create room for a whole family of dogs or pretty much anything else you might want to transport.
The driving position is also hard to fault, because you sit nice and high, with a good view of what’s ahead. And I found that the Alcantara-trimmed front sports seat in the vRS combined good long-distance comfort with plenty of side support for enthusiastic cornering.
True, you do lose some of the underfloor storage space that you get in the boot of lesser Kodiaqs due the battery having been relocated here, and the shortage of USB charging ports in the car (a problem all UK-spec Kodiaqs share) can be a little frustrating at times. But these are minor niggles.
So, is the vRS now the version of the Kodiaq to choose? Well, as much as I like it, I’d have to say 'no', because there is one problem that’s a lot more than a niggle, and that’s its price. With the respective discounts available through What Car?'s New Car Buying service, the vRS costs £13,124 more than the 148bhp 2.0 TDI SE model that’s currently What Car?’s best buy. And personally I think that’s too much of a jump.
You see, a lot of what makes the vRS good is found in all Kodiaqs. And while sports stars often talk about the marginal gains that turn a finalist into a champion, I want a lot more than marginal for that kind of money. If the price were in the high 30s rather than the mid-40s, my verdict would be a different one.
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