Satisfyingly sensible, the Karoq is unlikely to spike pulse rates, but it does everything will a relaxed competence that marks it out as an all-round talent. While it’s short on flash, the exterior design incorporates Skoda’s origami design language to a pleasing degree; our only area of criticism being the fake grille texture plastics at both ends – something the T-Roc also suffers from.
Cabin materials have been chosen for durability rather than premium feel, although some black gloss trim lifts the ambience, with intelligent design and good ergonomics. The display of the big infotainment touchscreen is rendered with an impressive crispness and responds quickly and intuitively to instruction.
Space is impressive, both up front and with adult-viable room in the back. More important for family use is the relatively low window line compared with more fashionable coupé crossovers, meaning kids will be able to see out. Top-spec trim means the adaptable Varioflex seating comes as standard – it’s a cost option on lesser Karoqs – and it’s well worth having.
The rear seats can be folded, slid or removed altogether. Collapsing or unhooking the second row is a manual process that takes some heaving, but extracting them turns the Karoq into what’s pretty much a van with 1810 litres of luggage space. Even with the rear seats in place, there’s still up to 588 litres of luggage space.
While dynamics are likely to be lower down the priority list of potential buyers, the Karoq drives with a tidy competence and occasional flashes of enthusiasm. The 1.5-litre engine is tuned for torque and is happiest when asked to deliver relaxed progress, but it will rev to the 6000rpm redline when asked to do so and gives the Karoq a reasonable turn of speed when it does. There’s more than enough low-down urge to chirp the front tyres when pulling out of junctions, something the relatively abrupt step-off of the DSG gearbox seems to encourage, but once the car is rolling, shifts are delivered cleanly in both automatic and manual modes.
Cruising refinement is good, only slight wind noise from the tops of the doors disturbing the calm of the cabin at a rapid motorway pace. Ride quality impresses as well, albeit with the proviso of the car wearing the smaller, 18in wheels.
Skoda’s chassis settings tend to work well in the UK, and the Karoq has a well-damped compliance over choppy British tarmac. The softish spring rates make for body roll under harder cornering loads, but the steering is accurate and the Skoda is easy to place and holds on gamely up to the modest limits of its front tyres. It’s not a performance car, but it’s not a dull one, either, and the laid-back chassis settings work far better than the overly firm tune often attempted by wannabe sporty crossovers.