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Driven for the first time on British roads, Skoda's new compact SUV doesn't disappoint, with decent on-road manners and performance

Our Verdict

Skoda Karoq

We get behind the wheel of the new Skoda Karoq to see if it has kept some of the traits that made the Yeti so likeable

  • First Drive

    Skoda Karoq 1.5 TSI 2017 UK review

    Driven for the first time on British roads, Skoda's new compact SUV doesn't disappoint, with decent on-road manners and performance
  • First Drive

    Skoda Karoq 2.0 TDI 4x4 2017 review

    Diesel version of Skoda’s junior SUV is unobtrusive and undemanding, but we’d still go for the silkier petrol version of the Karoq
22 November 2017

What is it?

This is our first chance to sample Skoda’s new junior SUV on British roads - albeit as a Czech-registered left-hooker. The Karoq is the smaller sister to the seven-seat Kodiaq, sitting on the same familiar MQB platform that underpins (almost) all of VW Group’s mid-sized products. As such, it is also a first cousin to the Seat Ateca and Volkswagen T-Roc, with more staid design than the latter but also much more practicality.

While the Karoq lacks the visual excitement of the T-Roc, it can offer both generous standard equipment and strong value for money. Our test car was in European ‘Style’ trim, but we’re told that this is almost identical to the top-spec British ‘Edition’. That means almost a full bingo card of kit as standard: leather trim, panoramic sunroof, power-operated tailgate, full LED lights and a power-operated driver’s seat. It also means Skoda’s full-spec Columbus infotainment system with a 9.0in touchscreen. The only difference between this car and a UK Edition is the wheels, our test car riding on 18s when the British car will have 19s as standard.

The 1.5 TSI petrol engine sits in the middle of the range and is expected to be the biggest seller in the UK. As tends to be the case with modern crossovers, it’s front-wheel drive (only the top-spec diesel Karoq will come with AWD), with our test car also getting the optional seven-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic gearbox. As such, it’s set to cost a very competitive £28,410. 

What's it like?

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. 

Should I buy one?

You'd probably be surprised if a Skoda didn’t offer strong value for money, but although most attention is likely to be won by the attractive lead-in pricing of the entry-level Karoq 1.0 TSI SE (£20,875, including respectable levels of equipment), the plusher versions offer a more compelling proposition compared with obvious rivals. While it’s possible to spend more on options – our car had radar cruise control (£330) and a £550 Canton speaker upgrade – the non-augmented 1.5 Edition feels generously equipped. For the money, you'll struggle to buy better in this ultra-competitive segment. 

Skoda Karoq 1.5 TSI Edition DSG

Where Surrey On sale Now Price £28,410 Engine 4cyls, 1498cc, turbo, petrol Power 148bhp at 5000rpm Torque 184lb ft at 1500rpm Gearbox 7-spd dual-clutch automatic Kerb weight 1318kg Top speed 126mph 0-62mph 8.6sec Fuel economy 50.4mpg (combined) CO2, tax band 127g/km, 24% Rivals Seat Ateca, Volkswagen Tiguan, Mazda CX-5

Join the debate

Comments
18

22 November 2017

Is the quoted weight, at 1318 kg accurate? If it is, that's pretty imprssive for an SUV, even a smallish one.

22 November 2017

Biggest seller will be a petrol, 3 years ago would be unheard of. Anyhow back to the car, £28k (I'd want AWD instead of the sunroof though) for this spec with a quick'ish engine is pretty keen to say the least, deserves a shoot-out between this and the XC40.

Another succesful Skoda me thinks!

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

22 November 2017

Ony a few days ago I tested the Kodiaq and was quite underwhelmed by it. I really was hoping it would be a good alternative to the Mitsubishi Outlander - which is cheaper here in Russia than the Kodiaq by a 18% margin ! This looks good value and of course I will test as soon as it arrives. Might pee my biz partner who just bought this week the new Xtrail (only because they gave him a really good trade in for his 10 years old 220,000km bucket xtrail bucket which was beginning to burn oil. I should add the the Octavia Scout was also tested and this rocked me. I will be looking to buy end Jan early Feb and need to decide. Still time to win the lotto and upgrade my thinking lol

what's life without imagination

22 November 2017

White good. No disrespect but it is the perfect car for Mr. Duff. 

 

22 November 2017

As a  long time Skoda fan I am very disapointed by the bland generic VAG styling.

The Volvo XC40 shows just where Skoda has gone wrong with this Yeti replacement.

 

Steam cars are due a revival.

22 November 2017

At start of play the 2wd XC40 has a base price of £29,000 I think the Yeti started at around £16,000 so you could never really say the XC40 is a Yeti replacement

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

22 November 2017

I usually praise VW group's products for their understated elegance and precision details (both in concept & in execution) but the only word I can find for this Karoq is 'bland', expecially after the unique character of the original Yeti.

289

22 November 2017

....I agree that this is a rather bland car to appeal to the masses, rather than the distinctive bold character of the Yeti.

I think this is probably the choice engine especially given the tidal wave of public opinion against diseasels....which makes it all the stranger that we are not allowed to have a 4wd version unless we submit to a tractor engine!

I think this is a big miscalculation by Skoda HQ. The Yeti was available in 1.8 TSI version with 4wd and was a great choice.

For me this is a deal breaker, just as the SEAT Ateca which also is unavailable in 4WD petrol.

Consequently both are crossed off the list for my wifes replacement car.

22 November 2017

About as interesting to look at as a tin of Dulux Magnolia.

And the exact opposite of the Yeti. 

But it's a VAG product so the British motoring press will be getting all excited about it.

Someone else mentioned the Volvo XC40 - that's exactly what the Yeti was - neat, distinctive and different in a nice way. The Karoq is basically a Seat Ateca, VW Tiguan with a bad nose job. 

22 November 2017

Very competitive £28,410 = it’s expensive

Cabin materials chosen for durability rather than premium feeling = they feel cheap and this it would be said if it wasn’t a VAG car 

Drives with tidy competence = it’s okay a bit dull

Engine is tuned for torque and happy at relaxed progress = it’s okay but nothing special 

Relatively abrupt step off of DSG = it’s a bit jerky 

Modest limits of its front tyres = it understeers fairly early and doesn’t really offer much grip..

I could go on, what is clearly an average car that is expensive hits a positive spin out on the review...

 

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