What's it like?
It should be of no surprise that the Karoq provides a driving experience familiar from that of other MQB-based SUVs, albeit tuned to a more Skoda-friendly flavour. That means the suspension has a softer set-up than the Ateca, which manifests itself in offering a better ride than its firmer Spanish sibling at higher speeds.
It handles large compressions and long-wave undulations well, but soft does not always mean comfortable. The low-speed ride is inconsistent, with the car fidgeting on all but the smoothest of surfaces. Our test car was fitted with the standard passive dampers, which do a poor job of isolating occupants from scarred road surfaces. The fact that Skoda has sped up development of its optional Dynamic Chassis Control adaptive dampers to fix this issue is telling, and they should be available at the launch of UK cars, if not soon after.
The Karoq's softer set-up also means more body roll through corners. As for the steering, it's very light when left in the normal driving mode. Switching over to the Sport mode adds more resistance but it still feels over-assisted and remote. There is also noticeable suspension noise, which fast seems to be becoming a Skoda trait.
Our test car was equipped with the lower-powered 148bhp version of the familiar 2.0 TDI engine. It's wanting for little to suggest you'll need to trade up to the 187bhp range-topper. It's brisk in a straight line once you're over the initial hesitation of the optional DSG gearbox before it shuffles nicely through the gears. It's a very tractable engine, and impressively refined.
Some four-wheel-drive versions of the Yeti can also claim a mite of off-road ability. Selecting the off-road mode in the Karoq activates hill descent control and keeps the car in a low gear. It feels more capable off road than the Peugeot 3008 with a similar set-up, but it would be wrong to call the Karoq an off-roader with its limited ground clearance and wheel articulation. Conquering a muddy field it can do, though, and that'll be fine with its owners.