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Skoda’s Kodiaq vRS sets new seven-seater SUV Nürburgring lap record

Will Beaumont
14 Jun 2018

A disguised version of Skoda’s new performance SUV has lapped the Nordschleife in 9min 29.84sec

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Skoda hasn’t officially unveiled the Kodiaq vRS yet as it won’t be completely revealed until later this year at the Paris motor show. Even so, the Czech marque’s forthcoming performance SUV has set a Nürburgring lap record and is now the fastest seven-seater SUV around the Nordschleife. Skoda’s biggest SUV lapped the 12.94mile-long circuit in 9min 29.84sec with Ring expert and part-time Top Gear presenter Sabine Schmitz at the wheel.

A video of the record attempt has been released, but it doesn’t document the full lap. Instead, it shows Schmitz at the wheel giving a running commentary of her lap to František Drábek, the man in charge of the Kodiaq vRS’s development, who is sat in the passenger seat.

Although the car still wore a camouflage wrap for the record, in an accompanying video Drábek revealed some mechanical details about the car. As we anticipated, the Kodiaq vRS shares the same drivetrain with the most powerful VW Tiguan. He confirmed that the vRS has a twin-turbocharged 2-litre diesel engine producing 237bhp, four-wheel drive and a DSG gearbox. The Tiguan is capable of a 0-62mph time of just 6.5sec and can go on to a top speed of 142mph with the same engine, so we’d expect the vRS to be as fast, if not a little quicker.

Drábek goes on to explain that, as well as the twin-turbo engine, the vRS has a ‘dynamic sound booster’ (presumably to stop the engine sounding too much like a diesel), dynamic chassis control and progressive power steering.

To live up to the vRS brand’s sporty reputation, the Kodiaq is likely to have firmer springs, thicker anti-roll bars and vRS-specific driver modes, as well as the adaptive dampers, to deliver sharper handling. It’ll be a similar set-up to the forthcoming Cupra Ateca, another performance SUV from within the VW group.

Nürburgring Nordschleife lap records are usually shrouded in mystery and controversy. The unofficial, un-policed nature of them means that manufactures are often accused of cheating, tampering with videos to make the times look faster and equipping cars with special tyres, suspension and engines to make them quicker. In an interview with Schmitz about the record attempt, she describes the car as ‘Absolutely stock’. And goes on to say ‘we didn’t change anything, because I think, when we do a lap record, it should be the car like you can buy it.’

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Without on-board footage of the full lap, Skoda’s record could be called into question. However, as the fastest seven-seater SUV isn’t a hotly contested title, it’s unlikely to cause much debate.

As well as the new videos, our spy photographers have captured images of the Kodiaq vRS undergoing testing in the mountains. With only a little bit of black tape covering the front lower intakes, we can see most of the changes the vRS has over the standard Kodiaq. The chrome grilles, body-coloured mirror caps and silver roof rails of the regular car have all been finished in gloss black, and it features a larger set of diamond-cut alloy wheels. The black lower body trim also looks deeper, reducing the car’s ground clearance, and the taped-up lower grille looks taller, presumably to allow for better cooling to the more powerful engine.

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The Kodiaq wouldn’t have been the Skoda model we’d have chosen to get the vRS treatment – a Citigo borrowing the Up GTI drivetrain or a Fabia using the Polo GTI engine would have come first (even the smaller Karoq SUV would have seemed a more appropriate platform) – but we’re glad it’s not just restricted to the Octavia anymore. In 2004, when production of the Fabia vRS ended, there was a fear Skoda would abandon its performance division altogether. Hopefully the Kodiaq vRS indicates a shift in attitude and the vRS badge will find its way onto many more Skodas.

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