Skoda Kodiaq vRS
I am completely hopeless when it comes to the latest technology, whether it’s on my Mac, smartphone or in the car. Swiping through reels of touchscreen functions and twiddling various buttons before I hit the road can be fun but also extremely frustrating. Therefore, vehicles that focus on driving dynamics and are equipped with simple, easy-to-use interfaces are often among my favourites.
A no-nonsense Skoda should do the job then, right? Not so fast. There is so much to love about the Kodiaq vRS, and in my opinion it is a fantastic car that deserves much praise, but I’m going to start by complaining.
Hidden away in the depths of the touchscreen options is a system called Dynamic Sound Boost. According to the Czech carmaker this allows the Kodiaq, which was the first model to feature the system, to produce a “particularly emotive engine note.” Its purpose is to make the twin-turbocharged 2.0-litre diesel engine, which is the most powerful production diesel engine in Skoda’s history, more exciting.
I know diesel engines don’t produce the same grunt as their petrol equivalents, but we’re talking about the most powerful production diesel engine in Skoda’s history. THE most powerful. Why must the sound it creates be synthetically enhanced in order to deliver a thrill? It’s like blindfolding someone and trying to convince them that they are listening to a live brass band when actually it’s just a Casio keyboard. Something’s amiss.
Admittedly I had a few passengers that, on entering the car, were immediately intoxicated by the fake purr as I toyed with the accelerator. And I did actually forget that the sound was simulated after a while. But when I remembered to explain how the noise is made I was met with baffled looks.
This being said, the Kodiaq vRS does not lack for fun. The diesel engine produces 240PS (enough power to go from 0-62mph in seven seconds); the gearbox loves to linger on higher revs particularly when in sport mode, and its handling is pretty delightful. It is more agile than it first lets on, gliding through corners despite its bulky frame and the fact it weighs a whopping 1880kg.
Cruising along the motorway is also enjoyable. We took it for a spin from London to Dorset’s Jurassic coast for the weekend (I’d highly recommend a trip to Durdle Door, but go early in the morning or after sunset to avoid the crowds). The driver is treated to a wonderfully high view of the road, while comfy seats and various climate controls make for a relaxing ride. There is room to spare in the back, and the boot is enormous.
Skoda has blurred the lines with the Kodiaq vRS. It’s certainly not the most powerful SUV out there, but it packs a big enough punch to warrant a slight eyebrow raise. It’s also practical, as are most Skodas, so would make for a fine family car with its size and functionality. There is ample tech to make life easier, like adaptive cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, and advanced emergency braking. But none of it feels too intrusive - it is merely there to make driving less stressful, rather than taking away from the driving experience.
As a 28 year old professional that may soon be looking to ditch the chaos and settle outside of the big smoke, I could certainly be persuaded to consider the Kodiaq vRS as a spacious, family-friendly car that provides a dollop of driving fun too. I could also end up keeling over after seeing the price tag. The Kodiaq vRS starts at £43,390. We're in BMW X3 territory here, but that doesn't put me off one bit. The Skoda does more than enough to warrant its position in a space that is otherwise dominated by the so-called premium brands.