Thoughtful, ‘simply clever’ tricks help Skoda Karoq stand out in the crowded SUV segment, even if the looks don’t
“Thoughtful, ‘simply clever’ tricks help Skoda Karoq stand out in the crowded SUV segment, even if the looks don’t”
Spacious and versatile interior
Top class infotainment systems
Good choice of engines to suit most lifestyles
Subtle styling might be too subtle for some
Lacks prestige of the GTI badge
Ride can be very firm for day to day driving
Replacing a cult classic is never easy. While the new Skoda Karoq might lack some of the Yeti’s quirky charm, a more conventional look can only widen its appeal and improvements across the board in tech, safety, space and practicality make it hard to argue with as the ultimate modern family car.
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Space & Practicality
It’s a Skoda, so as expected, space is plentiful in every area. The 521 litre boot is larger than the Hyundai Tucson (513l), and the Nissan Qashqai (430l), but still quite a bit shy of the Volkswagen Tiguan at 620 litres. We’ll put that down to the old conspiracy theory that the VAG group can’t allow Skoda to beat its Volkswagen sibling at everything.
And yet, it does have a little sneaky trick up its sleeve over the Tiguan here because not only does it give you nearly the same load area when you fold the backseats down (1,630 Vs 1,655l), if you spec the Varioflex seating option – you can take those back seats out altogether and increase the capacity further again. It will also allow you to slide the outer rear seats back and forth to increase legroom or bootspace depending on which you need more of.
Space in the back is good in general, with generous head and leg room, as well as optional tablet holders available to make longer journeys with little ones easier (and quieter).
Equipment and Safety
Back in the front, the cabin design is a bit like the exterior, not very exciting but still quite easy on the eye. Everything looks smart and is well put together, but the real show stopper is the infotainment system that dominates the centre console. Granted, the one in our test car was the upgraded 9.2 inch Columbus Navigation system which you will need to upgrade to the Style trim for. With its massive crystal clear screen, haptic feedback and up to the minute smartphone connectivity, it’s as good, if not better than what you’ll find in the cabin of some premium brands.
There are only two trim levels available on the Karoq. A lack of demand for the entry-level Active trim saw them do away with it altogether on this occasion. So instead, the range starts with Ambition, and standard features include alloy wheels, dual zone climate control, parking sensors and Smartlink+ which will enable Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
So while this might make the entry price of €27,715 look expensive compared to the entry price of some rivals, it’s fairer to compare to their mid spec models. When you do, it starts to look like much better value.
There is about a €2,500 price walk to the Style model, which aside from the bigger, better screen will get you SatNav, a reversing camera, keyless go, automatic lights and wipers and some upgraded chrome styling inside and out.
There’s a wide range of driver assisting safety features available including blind spot detect, front assist with predictive pedestrian protection, lane assist, and rear traffic alert. The Skoda Karoq scored the full five star Euro NCAP rating.
Performance & Running Costs
There is a good choice of engines available. If you want a petrol, which more and more people seem to be considering, you can choose between a 1.0l turbo or a larger 1.5l TSI, which comes with cylinder deactivation for improved fuel economy.
If you do a lot of mileage however, you might still want consider one of the diesel options. These range from a 6 speed manual 116hp 1.6l TDi to the top of the range 150hp 2.0l TDi in our press car which came paired with a silky smooth 7 speed automatic DSG transmission and the added benefit of four wheel drive. Claimed fuel economy for this model is a respectable 5.2l per 100km and it will cost you €280 a year to tax.
On the road, the Karoq handles very similarly to other Volkswagen Group SUVs including the Volkswagen Tiguan, and to a lesser extent the SEAT Ateca which has a sportier feel, but that familiar, reassuringly predictable German drive is unmistakable. That’s not a criticism either, just another way of saying it’s a solid machine. Everything feels pleasantly balanced from the well-weighted steering, to the comfy, but not too squishy suspension, although the 18 inch wheels on our test car didn’t do the ride comfort any favours when the roads got a bit rough, so do think about where you’re going to be driving before you spec those.
Reliability & Residuals
The Yeti is a tough act to follow but the Karoq answers pretty much every question an SUV buyer might have and then some. Reliability is another Skoda strong point, as are resale values if our used Skodas are anything to go buy. With its good honest practicality and versatile interior, it looks as though the Karoq will become another Skoda classic in its own right.
It’s still no Yeti, but it is a begrudging thumbs up from us.
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