10 May 2019

Review: Skoda Karoq

Skoda’s compact SUV, the Karoq, is a practical family crossover which sits just below Kodiaq in the brand’s line-up. While that big brother is primarily a 7-seater, Karoq is strictly only a 5-seat vehicle appealing to families who don't need anything larger as their means of transport, writes Trish Whelan. Being part of the Volkswagen Group, it shares the same MQB platform as the VW Tiguan and SEAT Ateca. 

The outside look is stylish and robust with a muscular stance and nice proportions. The Skoda design language is evident with crystalline effects in the LED head lights and the rear lights signature C-shape. Body panel lines and angular wheel arches accentuate the car's SUV character. 

This is quite a high vehicle which offers better all round visibility than typical saloons or hatchbacks. 

Inside, the cabin is spacious enough for five even tall adults, and is furnished with good quality materials. I was able to get a very good driving position behind the wheel in a seat that was comfy, yet supported me nicely.  

There's good head and legroom for passengers in the rear, though the middle rear seat is slightly smaller than the two outer ones which can slide backwards and forwards to allow more legroom, if needed. This feature is also handy for helping a parent lift and fit a small child into a car seat.

I didn't rent a mob for a full complement of five in the car, with just myself and a front seat passenger for most trips. If I had, they would have appreciated the tablet holders on the backs of the front seats as most people are tech savvy these days. 

The dash is stylish in its own way, and practical too, typical Volkswagen style but with a digital instrument panel that is a first in a Skoda car. It echoes Audi's bigger virtual cockpit. The central touchscreen for connectivity and infotainment has superb colour graphics and caters for all your connectivity needs.  

Karoq's functionality includes 521 litres of space in the basic five-seat configuration, rising to 1,630 litres with rear seats folded down. The space should be really useful to many families who need to take along bulky hobby items and sports stuff, or for the odd trip to Ikea or hardware stores. Roof rails can be used to carry extra load. 

Skoda are proud of their 'Simply Clever' tricks and Karoq gets a fair share of them. The optional VarioFlex seating system can be adjusted into multiple formats or even removed completely, to accommodate more bulky luggage. It can take time and effort to do this. 

The 'clever’ bits include a wireless phone charger and lots of useful cubby spaces. All Karoq cars come with a foldable umbrella stored neatly below the passenger seat. 

As most car buyers nowadays opt for middle to high-end grades, Skoda has omitted a normal entry level spec, leaving the well-equipped Ambition and Style. 

The Ambition gets 17-inch alloy wheels; 8-inch touch screen Bolero infotainment system, air con, rear parking sensors, Smart Link+ connectivity, chrome roof rails and window surrounds.

Style trim adds 18-inch alloys, the bigger 9.2-inch Columbus infotainment system with navigation, a good rear view camera, DAB radio and Keyless Entry. This version also has the full suite of the brand's connectivity features like Infotainment Online, Care Connect and Emergency Call. 

Infotainment Online opens up to Traffic updates and news feeds, indicating local fuel prices and weather alerts. Google Earth overlays for navigation also feature. Care Connect links the car to a local authorised Skoda dealer for service monitoring. The driver can also access the Karoq via a mobile device for remote car management. Emergency Call automatically connects the car to the Skoda Call Centre to alert emergency services of the GPS location, and automatic dial-in assistance from an emergency services operator in the case of an accident.

Karoq is offered with four engines ranging from 116hp to 150hp, with three DSG automatic offerings as well as a 4x4 version. Diesels are 1.6 and 2.0, petrols 1.0 and 1.5. The 1.0 6-speed manual version returns 5.3 L/100kms and offers a 0-100km/h time of 10.6s. The 1.5 150hp petrol does that sprint in 8.4s.   

My car was the 2.0D 150bhp with AWD, returning fuel consumption of 5.2 L/100km (54mpg) and with an annual road tax of €280.

On the road, it provided a confident and solid drive experience, and was nicely agile easy to park. While I didn't take it far off-road, just on grass, it has 183mm ground clearance should you want to venture further. There's also Hill Descent Control to give you more confidence driving downhill on shaky ground. 

My review car was priced from €38,365 plus options which included Adaptive Cruise Control (€328); Lane Assist/Traffic Sign Recognition etc. (€1,200); a Style Plus Pack of electric tailgate, the rear seat tablet holders and panoramic sunroof at €1,396; a Comfort Pack of leather interior, VarioFlex seating and a reversible boot mat at €1,495; the PhoneBox with Wireless Charger (€336). Metallic paint was another €612.