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Soft-roading compact SUV aims to showcase Skoda’s modern-day qualities - we find out if it has kept some of the traits that made the Yeti so likeable

Since 2007, global demand for Czech automobiles whose snouts carry an abstract badge portraying a Native American warrior (Skodas, if you hadn’t guessed) has doubled, to roughly 1.2 million. That statistic doesn’t get any less extraordinary the more you think about it, and yet it should be even greater.

Only recently, the proportion of sales accounted for by Skoda’s sports utility vehicles was half the European average. With just a solitary contender – the mid-size Skoda Kodiaq – in this zeitgeist market sector, that’s hardly a surprise, and yet it is perplexing that a strategy-savvy brand built on utilitarian principles should find itself caught short in this manner.

Skoda has deployed the ‘Scout’ moniker once before – for the midsized Octavia. In their soft approach to off-roading, these models compare to Audi’s Allroad and VW’s Alltrack ranges

It’s why we now have the Skoda Karoq – a compact SUV designed to compete not only against blood relatives such as the Volkswagen T-Roc and Seat Ateca but also the Nissan Nissan Qashqai and the Kia Sportage. On paper, it should be another strong showing from Skoda, which has in modern times forged a strong reputation. It’s one built from delivering just enough of the technology and materials quality from more premium VW Group brands to make the aggressive pricing seem irresistible. Spacious cabins and an increasingly crisp exterior design language have further precipitated that rocket-like sales graph, which is only expected to steepen as Skoda commits more resources to the segment.

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What makes the Karoq, tested here in rugged Scout guise, such an interesting prospect for Autocar readers is the model it replaces.

Skoda Skoda sold the Skoda Yeti between 2009 and 2017, and not only was this crossover pleasingly practical but it was also, as we said at the time, genuinely likeable and good to drive. High praise indeed given the segment in question. If Skoda has truly made progress, the newcomer will not only surpass the low-rise Yeti in every measurable parameter but will have done so without sacrificing much – if anything – in the way of charm.

Price £31,275 | Power 148bhp | Torque 251lb ft | 0-60mph 8.9sec | 30-70mph in fourth 12.9sec | Fuel economy 38.0mpg | CO2 emissions 134g/km | 70-0mph 47.9m (damp)

 

Skoda Karoq FAQs

Is the Skoda Karoq available as a plug-in or electric?

Unfortunately, the Skoda Karoq is not currently available with any sort of electrification in its engine line-up. Despite being based on the same MQB platform as the Volkswagen Golf, which is available with plug in electric drivetrain (and could previously be ordered in all-electric guise), the Karoq has a conventional range of petrol and diesel units, although some do feature cylinder deactivation technology for increased efficiency.

What are the main rivals for the Skoda Karoq?

If you’re looking for a compact crossover like the Skoda Karoq, then you’re not short of options. The Nissan Qashqai invented the class and makes a strong case for itself when it comes to practicality and low running costs, while Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson twins look distinctive, come packed with kit and have long warranties. Closely related to the Karoq are the Volkswagen T-Roc and SEAT Ateca, the former delivering a more upmarket feel and the latter being a little more engaging to drive.

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How much power does the Skoda Karoq have?

There’s a reasonably wide range of engines available for the Skoda Karoq, including the entry-level turbocharged 1.0-litre TSI petrol that delivers 108bhp. There’s also a 2.0-litre TDI diesel, which packs either 114bhp or 148bhp depending on the model. The later power figure is the same as the 1.5-litre TSI petrol that also gets cylinder deactivation technology. At the top of the range is the 187bhp 2.0-litre TSI petrol, which serves-up a hot hatch-rivalling 0-62mph time of just 7.0 seconds.

What choices of gearbox are there for the Skoda Karoq?

Skoda has kept it simple when it comes to gearbox options for the Skoda Karoq, with either a six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG twin-clutch automatic. The former is typical of three-pedal transmissions from the Volkswagen Group, serving up a slick and precise shift that’s matched to a light and progressive clutch pedal. The DSG gearbox is very smooth in its operation, but like other Skoda’s doesn’t get steering wheel paddle shifters for manual gear changes - you have to use the lever instead.

Where is the Skoda Karoq built?

As one of the brand’s most popular models, the Skoda Karoq is built in a number of factories around the world. In the firm’s home country of the Czech Republic, the Karoq is assembled in both Mladá Boleslav and Kvasiny, while the car is also produced in Bratislava, Slovakia, alongside the Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne. For the Chinese market, cars are produced at the SAIC-VW facility in Ningbo, one of the joint venture’s six factories in the country. The Karoq was also briefly constructed at the Volkswagen plant in Osnabrück, Germany, while production at the Russian Nizhny Novgorod factory has been suspended due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

How many generations of the Skoda Karoq are there?

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This is the first generation of Skoda Karoq, but it’s not the brand’s first compact crossover model. The Karoq’s predecessor was the quirky and brilliant Skoda Yeti, which was in production from 2009 to 2017. With its boxy lines it looked distinctive and had a hugely versatile interior that was spacious and packe with thoughtful, family-friendly features. Yet thanks to underpinnings that were related to the Volkswagen Golf MK5, the Yeti also drove well, with accurate handling, a composed ride and some punchy engines.

Skoda Karoq First drives