What is it?
This Skoda Karoq is a diesel, so whereas it was the one you’d go for in the Yeti (this SUV's predecessor), it’s now one of the lesser-chosen options. Skoda predicts that this entry-level 1.6-litre will account for around 10% of sales in the UK.
Sales are the pull here for Skoda, too: around a third of all new cars registered this year will be SUVs, and having launched two in the past year, with another on the way, it’s safe to say that the Czech manufacturer is taking them very seriously. It'll be among the brand's top three models when sales and production are fully up to speed, say company bosses.
We’ve driven the Karoq previously, both in diesel specification internationally and with a petrol engine under the bonnet on UK roads, but never in 1.6 TDI spec on the UK’s notoriously poor tarmac.
As mentioned, the Karoq replaces the Yeti, the cult classic status of which came to the fore since the model’s discontinuation. So like it or not, the Karoq is what we’ve got. Fortunately it’s more than a worthy replacement, if not quite as big on character.
What's it like?
As we discovered on previous drives of the Karoq, it’s comfortable, competent and classy. A thoroughly sensible option.
Twelve months ago, the 1.6-litre diesel would have been a thoroughly sensible option, too, giving a supermini-rivalling 61.4mpg, with low CO2 emissions too, in exchange for a little less power than the 2.0-litre oilburner in the range offers. It remains a reasonably sensible option, especially if you undertake regular long journeys, but with increasingly negative response to diesel, it’s not as safe a bet as the 1.0 TSI petrol variant, which has a similar power output, and nor will it sell as strongly.
Being the lower-powered of the two diesel engines isn’t without its drawbacks - the 1.6 feels a little stingy on power, and when pulling away from a standstill, it can’t always provide as much urgency as is requested of it. Power delivery is smooth, though, and there’s enough to suit everyday use.
In terms of engine noise, it blends into the background, despite not maintaining a level of hush which other models offer. More impressive is the composure kept by the engine across the rev range, even at 3500rpm and beyond.
On the whole, the Karoq is impressive. The most notable imperfection is a tendency to bounce over bigger bumps in the road. At all but the slowest speeds, most smaller imperfections in the road surface are dealt with deftly and quietly. The steering is responsive and quick, but not quite as sharp as the Nissan Qashqai.
Should I buy one?
This is an ever-more difficult question for a mass-market diesel car, but setting aside the current climate and changing attitudes towards diesels, it has everything you would need from a mid-sized SUV.
Usually the phrase ‘everything you need’ would suggest very little of what you want, but in this instance the Karoq provides a compelling mix of competence and desirability. It’s neither flash nor frumpy, and its quiet confidence should worry the Ateca and Qashqai considerably.
Worth the money? Oh, absolutely. Skoda's 'Simply Clever' ethos seems to run through the car, with more touches now than ever contributing to an overall ease of use unseen elsewhere in the segment. And when you're selling to everyone and their 2.4 children plus dog, that will pay dividends.
Skoda Karoq 1.6 TDI 115PS SE
Where Lincoln On sale Now Price £24,735 Engine 4cyls, 1598cc, turbocharged diesel Power 113bhp at 3250rpm Torque 184lb ft at 1500rpm Gearbox 6-spd manual Kerb weight 1351kg Top speed 116mph 0-62mph 10.7sec Fuel economy 61.4mpg CO2 120g/km Rivals Seat Ateca, Volkswagen Tiguan, Mazda CX-5