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Skoda's small SUV makes a virtue of no-nonsense everyday usability

Our Verdict

Skoda Kamiq 2019 road test review - hero front

Skoda has used its supermini platform to create a practical compact crossover; we test it with the mid-level petrol engine

Simon Davis
5 November 2019
Skoda Kamiq 1.0 TSI 115 2019 UK

What is it?

The Skoda Kamiq is the newest member of the Volkswagen Group’s family of teeny-tiny SUVs, joining the likes of the Seat Arona and Volkswagen T-Cross in this fashionable new corner of the car market.

As with its relatives - not to mention the Skoda Scala hatch, which is effectively the same thing but closer to the ground and with a different face - the Kamiq is based on VAG’s MQB-A0 supermini architecture. So you get MacPherson strut-type suspension up front and a torsion beam at the rear, while a small-capacity engine drives the front wheels exclusively. 

In the case of our top-spec SEL test car, the engine in question is a 1.0-litre three-pot that's paired with a six-speed manual ‘box. It develops 114bhp and 148lb ft, and enables the Kamiq to sprint from 0-62mph in a leisurely 9.9sec. 

This is an engine we’ve sampled before, so it’s unlikely we’re in for any surprises as to how effectively it performs. But, as that test drive took place in France, this is our first chance to give the Kamiq a proper shakedown back on home soil. 

Its Scala sibling is slightly larger than the class norm and, on its standard, passive, suspension, exhibits an occasionally patchy ride. This comes as proof that VW Group’s supermini architecture could only be stretched so far in terms of the ride refinement and comfort the platform can offer. Similar to the Scala, the Kamiq is larger than its Seat and Volkswagen counterparts, but this particular Kamiq is fitted with Skoda’s optional Sport Chassis Control adaptive damping. Can this help avoid the pitfalls that troubled the hatch on British roads?

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What's it like?

Really rather inoffensive, really. With the dampers left in comfort mode, the Kamiq's ride does err on the firm side of things, but it’s still soft enough to ensure that a degree of pliancy remains when travelling on fast, undulating roads. The rear axle might feel a touch animated at times, particularly on poorer road surfaces, but not to such a dramatic extent that it feels uncouth or uncomfortable. 

Sport mode obviously firms things up and makes the Skoda more reactive on country roads, but, given the fact the Kamiq isn’t genuinely sporty in any real way, it’s unlikely you’ll find yourself tempted to use it. Still, it corners very well indeed; there’s plenty of grip at the front end, body control is good and the steering is accurate enough to allow you to choose your cornering line with confidence. It doesn’t feel particularly characterful or exciting on a dynamic level, but its ease of use and inherent stability are impressive in its own, more sensible way.

The 1.0-litre engine is happy enough to churn away quietly in the background, but there’s no mistaking it for anything other than a three-cylinder. Not that that’s a criticism; it pulls strongly from 2000rpm, and will happily keep working right up until just shy of the limiter. As with everything else about this car the six-speed manual impresses more for its user-friendliness than any great sense of tactile pleasure, but it’s accurate and snappy enough. Pedal weights are spot on, too, so this is a very easy car to drive in busy traffic.

It feels solidly built inside, while the optional panoramic sunroof and lighter trim colours lend the cabin a pleasingly airy feel. It’s a shade bland to look at, perhaps, but the inherent build quality is readily apparent. There’s loads of room, too - particularly in the second row. Taller adults are unlikely to find long journeys in the rear pews all that taxing.

Should I buy one?

In £21,980 SEL guise, the Kamiq is reasonably well equipped, with satellite navigation, cruise control, climate control and 18in alloys thrown in as standard, but a lot of the kit you’d want comes as an optional extra. Our car came in at £27,780, and of all the additional features specced, (parking sensors, panoramic roof, keyless entry and uprated sound system) it was only really the alternative 18in alloys (£580) we’d forgo - the standard 18s are snazzy enough.

Top-flight versions of the Seat Arona and VW T-Cross are slightly pricier, but both are marginally better equipped and carry with them a dash more in the way of personality. The Kamiq is Skoda to a tee, then: sensible, reasonably affordable, and very practical, if a little tricky to really love. It’s impressively capable, though, and that shouldn’t be overlooked. 

Skoda Kamiq 1.0 TSI 115 SEL specification

Where Surrey, UK Price £21,980 On sale now Engine 3cyls, 999cc, turbo, petrol Power 114bhp at 5000-5500rpm Torque 148lb ft at 2000-3500rpm Gearbox 6-spd manual Top speed 120mph 0-62mph 9.9sec Fuel economy 42.8-47.1mpg CO2 no WLTP data available Rivals Volkswagen T-Cross, Seat Arona

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Comments
15

5 November 2019

Highly competent,  yet so much duller than a Yeti. Shame.

5 November 2019

As to expecting 'panoramic roof and keyless entry' being wanted items as standard for this model, I'd say the opposite as I'd prefer not to have them included regardless of the saving of around £1,300'ish.

5 November 2019

£27780 less alloys which is the only option you'd forgo, makes the price £27200. For a 1L city car?

Perhaps it's just me or has the world really gone bonkers? The depreciation on that thing must be eye-watering. Why would anyone overlook the cheaper VW T-Cross in favour of this is beyond me.

5 November 2019

If the pound is 1.5 US dollar to the pound rather than 1.28 US dollar then our cars will be less expensive. 

6 November 2019

Only, I didn't know Skodas were made in the US.

And if your jibe is aimed at Brexit supporters, which I assume it is, please bear in mind that the Aussie has fallen further and faster against the greenback than the squid. And we haven't threatened to leave the EU, so maybe, just maybe, much of that currency variation amounts to appreciation of the dollar, not depreciation of sterling? Just a random guess, I'm not an international currency speculator...

Robbo

A view from Down Under

5 November 2019

You can opt away on any car but the RRP is £21,980.  And 'city car', it's way bigger than Fiesta and Clio and they in turn are bigger than true city cars like the Up or Fiat 500

5 November 2019

....of a margarine tub.

6 November 2019

That's most unfair to margarine tubs, some of which have quite attractive designs.

Thank goodness (and low sales) we don't get most of these needless variations on the theme of stultifying boredom here.

Robbo

 

A view from Down Under

5 November 2019

The most damning thing about this review is saying that it has less personality than a VW T-Cross .....

5 November 2019
Neighbours smile when you park your Duster on the drive? Colleagues talk about their premium brands?
Skoda has you covered: a more expensive Duster with 0 talent off-road but with a "German" badge. Now you're taking!

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