The Kobold VK7 is an excellent cordless modular vacuuming system — but it would want to be given how much it costs.
|Modular system works well across a lot of surfaces||It’s certainly not inexpensive|
|Very effective mopping||Weighting might not suit your grip|
|Excellent air filtration for allergy needs||Mopping is noticeably louder than vacuuming|
You can spend very little on a vacuum cleaner if you wish, though my own personal experience would suggest that the cheapest vacuums from the lower-tier brands really aren’t worth bothering with – but what happens when you step into the premium price space?
You should expect premium quality in return for your money. With pricing starting at $1,699 – and that’s just for the vacuum parts – there’s no doubting that the Kobold VK7 wants serious money from you.
Then again, it’s from Vorwerk, the German brand behind the Thermomix range. No, before you ask, you can’t use the Kobold VK7 to make creamy soups, but the point here is that there’s a premium-priced brand behind the name.
Though, to get this out of the way early, every single time I have to type the world “Kobold” in this review, I’m going to get Dungeons & Dragons flashbacks. Just me?
The Kobold VK7 is a modular cordless vacuuming system built around a single white chamber vacuum module that measures in at 21x14x55cm with its control handle flipped down; that extends up to 93cm long once it’s extended.
In Australia the Kobold VK7 is sold in three configurations; the basic vacuum can be yours for $1,699 with the base module, floor brush and car nozzle.
Stepping up to $2,399 adds the 2-in-1 mop attachment, or if you want to go all out, there’s a $2,999 bundle that also drops in a wider array of cleaning tools for specific purposes like cleaning beds and upholstery.
Which for many people will be the point where they check out, because there’s just no getting around the fact that this is seriously premium money for a vacuum cleaner, or even a vacuum cleaner/mop hybrid. It’s comparable with the top of the line in robot vacuum cleaner/mops, too.
I was loaned the mid-range vacuum/mop set for the purposes of review, so I can’t comment on the efficacy of the additional tools that you can get. It is worth noting that you’re not stuck with a simple vacuum if you only buy the base set, as all the tools and additional cleaning powders and liquids are also sold as standalone items.
The basic layout of the Vacuum Stick that forms the heart of the Kobold VK7 is quite nice; a single power button at the front fires it up, with toggles above and below to manage vacuuming or water releasing power, depending on whether you’ve got the vacuum or mop heads attached. There’s a boost button just behind the handle that can temporarily pump up the power for trickier areas too.
The connection to either the vacuum or mop heads – which is arguably going to be most of what you’d use the Kobold VK7 for – does change the mobility of the unit rather markedly.
The vacuum head rotates quite widely, making it fairly easy to slide under sofas and beds and all those other tricky areas that you’d otherwise probably leave out, while the mop head is considerably heavier, and that’s by design, to push it just that little bit harder to the ground for cleaning purposes. More on that shortly.
Setting up the Kobold VK7 is relatively pain-free, though for the mid-range set (strictly speaking, the “Kobold Cordless Vacuum (VK7) and 2 in 1 Vacuum Mop Attachment (SP7) bundle”) there’s quite a few smaller boxes to unpack in order to find everything. The standard vacuum head just snaps in place, released with a neck control if you want to switch out to other implements such as the mop head.
The mop head does take a little more setup, however. It works from washable microfibre pads that attach to the bottom of the mop head, but you’ve also got to add water and (ideally) Kobold’s “Koboclean” mixture, which runs $19 for a 500ml bottle for either wood floors, parquet floors or an all-in “Universal” mixture.
While you don’t need much of it – and you can use the mop just with fresh water – it slightly annoys me that you only get a 50ml sample bottle with the $2,399 kit. That’s a very old-school-printer-ink-starter-cartridge strategy there, Vorwerk. I see what you’re doing.
The Kobold VK7 also has its own companion smartphone app, which connects over Bluetooth, but it’s not an absolutely mandatory install.
For vacuuming, the Kobold VK7 works very well indeed in terms of dust, hair and cat fur collection. Its base auto setting made short work of vacuuming through my house including heavy carpets, stairs and a mix of wood and floating floor types, picking up solid quantities of dust, fluff and hair.
My one note here having tested it is that the weighting of the vacuum stick head is a little unusual, which could be a problem for those with mobility or grip issues. It’s heavy at the top, and when I passed it to one family member who has some grip issues, she commented that it was a little difficult to move around and balance because of that weight.
This could be an issue for you, because while it’s not super-heavy in the way that old-school vacuum cleaners most definitely were, it’s also far from the lightest stick vacuum in the world.
The Kobold VK7’s counter to that – and it’s not an unreasonable one – would be that it’s also capable of being a very effective floor mop as well. Here you are adding even more weight – worth keeping in mind – for a high intensity, very rapid vibrating mop head with three levels of water release.
It’s also the one area where you might want the companion Bluetooth app ready to roll. By default with the mop head on, the toggle buttons control water flow, but you’re stuck in the auto speed for vacuum pickup on the edges of the mop head. If you want alternative vacuuming pressure with the mop head enabled, that’s managed through the app.
The Kobold VK7 with the mop head attached was a fair bit more challenging to use than just as a straight vacuum, and that’s a function both of its weight and the high speed at which its mop head operates.
Ever seen one of those big vibrating mops they use to clean shopping centres and other public indoor places? This is the home version of that, which means it does shake you around a bit while using it, as well as making a lot more noise than the regular vacuum heads. My cats don’t like vacuums much, but they positively hate the mopping head.
The Kobold VK7 uses a removable battery pack – you can buy extras and even an external charger if you’re particularly keen – that Vorwerk claims can last for up to 60 minutes of usage.
That’s a variable figure, not surprising when you consider that differing levels of vacuum pressure and mop usage can drain the battery a fair bit faster than that. On my first run, I pumped the pressure up to maximum, which did get up a lot of pet hair, but also saw the battery life dip well below 30 minutes of usage.
Recharging takes up to two hours – again, it’s going to depend on just how flat you make the Kobold VK7 when you use it – from the provided charger. It’s easy enough to clip in, but the plug end of the charging cable is absolutely massive. Plug it into a power board or two position wall socket and you can kiss goodbye to accessing that second socket for sure.
Kobold VK7: Alex’s Verdict
For a lot of people, the asking price of the Kobold VK7 will be a deal breaker long before there’s ever any question of which model is worth buying or represents any level of value, for sure.
Still, there is a market out there for premium whitewoods, and within that market if you’re after a relatively robust and certainly quite powerful stick vacuum with a lot of flexibility to expand down the line with additional attachments, there’s a lot to like here.
You just have to get past that price point first.
Kobold VK7: Pricing and availability
The Kobold VK7 retails in Australia at a starting price of $1,699.