Skoda has opened the order books for its new-look Kodiaq vRS high-performance SUV, which now costs almost £45,000. Along with a new front end and some internal updates, the biggest change to Skoda’s go-faster family bus is the new petrol engine, which replaces the chunky diesel that used to hide under the bonnet.

It’s a 2.0-litre powerplant that produces 241 bhp, then sends it to all four wheels via a seven-speed, twin-clutch automatic gearbox. The result is a 0-62 mph time of 6.6 seconds and a top speed of 145 mph. Those are small but noticeable improvements on the old diesel version, which could get to 62 mph in seven seconds before hitting a top speed of 136 mph.

However, the new engine is less economical than its predecessor, burning through a gallon of petrol every 32.3 miles on the official economy test. The old diesel managed more than 35 mpg on the same test cycle.

2021 Skoda Kodiaq facelift

Aside from that new petrol engine, the £44,635 starting price buys you some 20-inch alloy wheels, red brake callipers and sportier vRS bumpers. The car also comes with a glossy black finish on the roof rails, the front grille and the door mirrors, while dual exhaust pipes can be found poking from the rear.

Inside, the vRS gets microsuede black vRS sports seats with contrasting red stitching and vRS logos, not to mention the carbon fibre-effect dashboard panels and the aluminium pedals. The vRS also comes with a sportier three-spoke steering wheel adorned with a vRS logo and more red stitching, as well as perforated black leather.

2021 Skoda Kodiaq facelift

The money buys you plenty of on-board technology, too, including the Virtual Cockpit digital instrument cluster, which offers a range of different displays to suit drivers’ needs. In the high-performance vRS, that includes a special Sports layout that places the rev counter and speedometer graphics right in front of the driver.

That sits alongside the 9.2-inch satellite navigation screen, which comes with the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration systems, as well as a rear-view parking camera. You can also use the screen to tweak the Dynamic Chassis Control system, which allows the driver to adjust the steering and suspension settings to their preferences.

As with so many other Kodiaq models, there’s plenty of sensible equipment, including seven seats for family-carrying duties and front parking sensors to reduce the chances of having a bump while manoeuvring. Other standard safety features include autonomous emergency braking and LED matrix headlights that can dip parts of the beam automatically to prevent dazzle while still illuminating as much of the road ahead as possible.

The new Kodiaq vRS is available to order now with prices starting at £44,635.

Gallery: 2021 Skoda Kodiaq facelift