The new Skoda Kodiaq aims to of­fer both per­for­mance and prac­ti­cal­ity. Jack Evans finds out if it mea­sures up.

Belfast Telegraph - NI Carfinder - - Front Page - FIRST DRIVE BY JACK EVANS

WHAT IS IT? Think of Skoda and what springs to mind? Prac­ti­cal es­tates per­haps, or maybe even a se­ries of rugged SUVS. Well, the Czech com­pany also has a bit of form with mak­ing in­cred­i­bly low-key yet punchy per­for­mance ver­sions of its pro­duc­tion cars and this – the Kodiaq VRS – is a sporty take on the brand’s pop­u­lar seven-seater.

De­spite be­ing re­vealed some time ago, this is the first chance that we’ve had to get be­hind the wheel and we headed to Spain to see if this sportier Kodiaq can ac­tu­ally de­liver.

It’ll also re­turn a claimed 35.3mpg com­bined (gen­er­ated un­der new WLTP test­ing cy­cles), while emit­ting 167g/km CO2.

WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE? Pre­vi­ous VRS mod­els had a de­cep­tive way of de­liv­er­ing their power, and the Kodiaq is no dif­fer­ent. Ac­cel­er­at­ing hard from a stand­still doesn’t feel all that quick ini­tially, un­til you look down at the speedome­ter and re­alise you’re trav­el­ling a fair bit faster than you ex­pected. This is con­tin­ued by the im­pres­sive mid-gear punch – the Kodiaq pulls re­ally strongly and there’s more than enough go for over­tak­ing safely and se­curely.

The ride is firm at low speeds – although that’s to be ex­pected as Skoda has specif­i­cally adapted the car’s chas­sis con­trol sys­tem for the VRS – but the by-prod­uct is ex­cel­lent body con­trol in the bends. Add to that the added trac­tion af­forded to it by the all-wheel-drive sys­tem, and the Kodiaq VRS feels like a much smaller car to drive quickly than it ac­tu­ally is, and that’s no bad thing at all.

VER­DICT The Kodiaq VRS has been a bit of a push for Skoda. The reg­u­lar Kodiaq is do­ing well, so why of­fer a per­for­mance ver­sion? In truth, it makes sense. This VRS takes all the best bits of the Kodiaq – prac­ti­cal­ity, build qual­ity, spa­cious­ness – and adds the abil­ity to en­joy a quiet, twisty road should the chance arise.

The price is a lit­tle on the beefy side, but this is a car that’s there for peo­ple who want to be able to get five kids, their gear and the dog all in the car but still want to have a lit­tle time for them­selves be­hind the wheel.

The Kodiaq VRS is on sale now at Skoda deal­ers, with first de­liv­er­ies in the spring.

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