When I told my learned DriveTribe colleagues that I planned on taking a week off in late October to have a holiday, I could see a flicker of jealousy in their dying, overworked eyes. When I explained I’d be going on a short European roadtrip with my 9-month old baby, the look of envy quickly turned into laughter, pity and wistful shakings of the head.
Apparently taking a baby on a roadtrip is the motoring equivalent of your Mum and Dad turning up at the table next to you while you’re struggling through an awkward first date in Pizza Express with a printed voucher wedged in your back pocket.
But here’s the thing. As much as I love jumping on my motorcycle and romping around Europe at twice the speed limit, it’s not really the sort of roadtrip I can do anymore. I need to slow down, look at the sights and savour the smells, rather than trying to bash out 400 mile days on twisting roads overtaking everything in sight and living for the road. Because I am, despite my childish pretensions, a family man.
Is it even a roadtrip if you don't take a photo of your car on the Eurotunnel train?
Kodiaq vs 911
My roadtrip style needed to change. I never thought I’d be saying this, but a torquey diesel SUV like the Kodiaq vRS was exactly what I needed to cart my small family around. The enormous boot meant we could take our more rugged buggy, which meant the cobbled streets of Belgium and the Netherland’s finest cities could be added to our hitlist.
Our smaller hand-luggage-size stroller would fit in the frunk of a 911, but it’d crumble at the first cobblestone. And, more importantly, my birthday fell in the middle of the roadtrip, so I had tonnes of room for presents. Perhaps I’ve not grown up as much as I’d hoped.
Sorry for the crap photo, but hopefully it shows just how much stuff you need when you have a tiny human
It’s not just the mode of transport that needed to change, though. Instead of picking gorgeous vineyard hotels and out-of-the-way AirBnBs with a 25-minute drive to the nearest restaurant, we decided to pick cities. So we stayed in Antwerp, Amsterdam and Cologne before driving back to Blighty.
This meant the twistiest road we’d be tackling would be those fantastic and oddly bum-clenching 270-degree German Autobahnn sliproads. It wasn’t set to be a driving holiday, but a proper break for wandering around, eating and generally enjoying being a new family, free from the stresses of work.
Iced apple pastries from German bakeries are what make life worth living, frankly
You know what? It was brilliant. As was the car. The vRS’ active cruise control and automatic gearbox meant I could essentially sleep my way to the Eurotunnel and doze the following 800 miles. Not literally, because that'd be silly. The Kodiaq's upgraded Canton sound system isn’t exactly going to rock your world with bass like a Merc’s Burmester system, but it more than held its own blasting out 90s hits at an indicated 139mph on the Autobahn.
We only had to stop twice for fuel – the joys of diesel engines on long hauls. They just work
Hitting the Autobahn
Yep, the Kodiaq vRS may be powered by a 2.0-litre diesel, but its bi-turbo setup means it’s pretty rapid. It didn’t take too long to get up to that indicated 139mph, and it was still accelerating when I had to back off. The listed top speed is 136mph, which is presumably GPS-verified, hence the ease with which we broke it.
It’s annoying that sprint brought my average mpg crashing down from 40mpg to 33, but hey – us Brits have to enjoy the freedom of not being in constant traffic when the opportunity arises. And it felt completely planted at double the UK speed limit.
The only thing I’d like is a slightly sharper feel from the brakes – the first inch or so of travel doesn’t slow you down as much as you’d like, and you often find yourself in a bit of a panic until you find the brakes are perfectly fine once you’ve buried your foot in them a bit more.
Our AirBnB near Amsterdam was surrounded by canals and tiny (but steep) bridges. So y'know, had to take this photo…
Otherwise, the nippy Kodiaq’s the consummate roadtrip tool. You’ve got the power to cruise past other traffic, but you don’t have to fill up every 350 miles like you would in a big petrol-powered SUV. I was getting about 480 miles to a tank of diesel, so only needed two fuel stops outside of the UK. Add in its comfort, boot space and the fact the suspension’s not going to rattle your teeth out, and it’s perhaps the dark horse of Skoda’s range. One for those Dads who are adjusting to a change in their lives… but aren't quite ready to give up on speed just yet.