Admittedly, the vRS goes against that grain in several ways. It starts with the 20in 'Extreme’ alloys, which with an anthracite finish wouldn’t look amiss on the SVJ. The front grille, window frames, wing mirrors and roof rails are then finished in gloss black, and along with big-bore dual exhaust tips, there's red vRS badging on the nose and rump. In Velvet Red metallic paint, the overall effect isn’t subtle.
There’s also the small matter of price: £42,870, rising with our test car’s vast panoramic sunroof (£1175), Canton sound system (£405) and rear-view camera plus full LED lights (£385). That's rather a lot, but if the Kodiaq vRS turns out to be a cut-price Audi SQ7, perhaps there’s justification.
Synthesised exhaust notes, piped inside to disguise an engine lacking in much natural character, are a dubious modern phenomenon, but Skoda makes no attempt to conceal the Dynamic Sound Boost system in the Kodiaq vRS.
Whichever driving mode you’re in, but especially so in Sport, there’s a deep, wide, throbbing warble. Along with the lazy throttle response and big bi-turbo torque (369lb ft from 1750rpm), getting the Kodiaq vRS off the mark and into its stride feels a bit like nursing a stock car out of the pits. You might like that, and in fairness it can be quite fun, if also quite ridiculous.
How does the Kodiaq vRS handle on the road?
But this is a good engine for a big SUV, even if such a highly tuned, twin-turbocharged 2.0-litre diesel engine does cut a strained figure in the upper portion of its rev range. The dual-clutch gearbox wants to hit top as soon as possible, which is fine for everyday driving, but you can also take control by using the paddles. Do so and upshifts are effortlessly quick and downshifts almost flawlessly smooth, but most satisfying is actually to hook one of the intermediate gears and lean on all the torque.
Do so and the Kodiaq vRS will muster quite shocking cross-country pace without much in the way of fanfare. This isn’t a particularly fast car, and perhaps the vRS badge would have been better served with the Volkswagen Group’s 296bhp EA888 petrol engine under the bonnet, but its grip and body control are such that momentum is easily conserved.
There’s a bit of guesswork involved with the front axle, because the artificially weighted steering is so numb, but once into a corner, the Kodiaq tracks precisely and securely, with torque flowing to the rear axle as required. It's a romping, 1880kg SUV with heavily bolstered Alcantara seats, but it's also neat and benign in its handling, and it's not hard to see the appeal of that.
That said, to get the best out of the Kodiaq vRS as a performance car, you need to have the adaptive dampers in their firmest setting, but this robs the car of some pliancy and, on occasion, control. Decently surfaced A-roads are never a cause for concern, and the vRS flows through wide sweepers in fluid fashion, but more pronounced road imperfections and camber changes on smaller roads can momentarily trip up a car with such a high centre of gravity.
So you don't ask too much of it, accepting that the Octavia vRS Estate is more agile, with greater composure and more finesse to its suspension. It's the better vRS, in short, but that's obvious. Admittedly, there's less in it for motorway driving, not least because of the Kodiaq vRS's excellent visilibty and impressive aural refinement given the frontal area and the size of the turntable wheels.
Does the vRS prove a hot seven-seater can work?
Like any Kodiaq, the vRS will slip into your life with barely a ripple. As a family SUV, it should ride more placidly than it does, but this is true for any other model in the line-up, and you still get cavernous interior dimensions along with arguably the least demanding driving experience of any car in this class.