Skoda's cracking Karoq compact SUV built for comfort
Skoda's new Yeti-replacing Karoq SUV has loads going for it when it comes to practical, spacious and affordable family transport, says motoring editor Andy Russell.
It’s not enough for Skoda’s new Karoq compact SUV to be good. This much-anticipated model needs to be very good, not only to make its mark in this hugely-attractive market but to replace the Yeti crossover – a big hit with buyers, both new and used.
Sharing its underpinnings with the Volkswagen Tiguan and SEAT Ateca, the Volkswagen Group stablemates have been clever to give each model its own character and selling points rather than just churning out clones.
Looks and image
The five-seat Karoq is a scaled-down version of the larger Kodiaq, which offers two more seats, evolving the brand’s crystalline design. It’s more stylish, more capable and more rewarding to drive and travel in than the Yeti which stood out more because of its quirky, chunky looks.
Longer, wider and lower than the Yeti, it’s well proportioned and elegant, blending bold angles, taut shapes and sharp creases to give real road presence.
While Kodiaq is named after a bear on an island of that name near Alaska, Karoq is derived from the native tribe’s name for car and arrow, the latter part of Skoda’s logo.
Under the bonnet
Tried-and-tested turbo engines – 115PS 1.0 and 150PS 1.5-litre petrol and 1.6 and 2.0-litre diesels matching the petrol outputs and the latter with standard four-wheel drive – cover all bases, especially as each is offered with manual and automatic transmission.
The best-seller is expected to be the 1.5-litre petrol with active cylinder technology. It has a good turn of speed if worked and remains refined but its party trick is cutting to two cylinders on a light throttle, between 1,400 and 4,000rpm and up to 70mph, to save fuel and cut emissions for 40-45mpg in everyday driving.
How it drives
The Karoq isn’t such a dynamic drive as the similarly-sized SEAT Ateca.
It’s more comfort biased with a chassis set-up that’s firm enough to keep body roll in check but sufficiently supple to soak up road defects without troubling passengers too much. There’s very little tyre noise, even on 18in wheels, so long distances in the Karoq aren’t tiring.
That said, it’s not soft enough to feel soggy in the handling department. Add precise steering and the Karoq is an SUV that won’t disappoint keen drivers.
Space and comfort
Like the Kodiaq, the Karoq has a spacious, family-friendly, well-trimmed cabin with enough legroom for six-footers to stretch out in the back but a middle passenger has to straddle a tall hump in the floor. Large, wide-opening doors provide good access.
SE gets a 60/40 split rear seat, mid-range SE L and top Edition the Varioflex seating system (£450 on SE) with three individual seats with backs that recline and fold flat, unfortunately well proud of the boot floor, and can then be tumbled upright. The larger outer ones also slide or all three can be removed but they’re quite heavy.
Boot space ranges from 479 to 588 litres, but there is a little raised load sill, or 1,810 litres in two-seat mode. The standard SE boot is 521 litres, rising to 1,630 litres, so, if you don’t the extra versatility, could prove a better value proposition.
The driving position has good adjustment and all-round visibility and the fascia is well designed for ease of use with clear dials, a high touchscreen for many functions but simple rotary controls and buttons for heating and ventilation are easier to use on the move.
The Karoq has all the makings of another family favourite from Skoda – spacious, comfortable, practical, well equipped and attractively priced.
SPEC AND TECH
Price: Skoda Karoq SE L 1.5 TSI £24,520 (range £20,880 to £32,005)
Engine: 1,498cc, 150PS, four-cylinder, turbo petrol with six-speed gearbox
Performance: 0-62mph 8.4 seconds; top speed 126mph
MPG: Urban 42.8; extra urban 58.9; combined 51.4
CO2 emissions: 125g/km
Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 26pc
Insurance group: 15E (out of 50)
Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles
Will it fit in the garage? L 4,382mm; W (including door mirrors) 2,025mm; H 1,603mm