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The Yeti has morphed into the Karoq for its second generation, and this early drive reveals a solid, practical small SUV that could challenge the class best
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  • First Drive

    Skoda Karoq 2017 review

    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
Neil Winn - Autocar
28 April 2017

What is it?

The new Skoda Yeti isn't actually a Skoda Yeti anymore. That's right, one of the last beacons of creativity in the naming of cars has gone out, replaced by a rough translation of 'car arrow' in the language of a tribe in Alaska, to give us the Skoda Karoq.

Skoda had a hit on its hands with the Yeti. It was an early arrival in the small SUV world, with enough quirkiness to mask its obvious compromises and shortcomings. It was likeable, a bit different, and sold well right to the end of its life. 

Its replacement, the Karoq, is something altogether more conventional, not just because of its name. It's effectively Skoda's version of the Seat Ateca and upcoming Volkswagen T-Roc. It's grown slightly in size over the Yeti in all departments, chiefly for the benefit of interior passengers, and in true Skoda style ends up with a boot much bigger than that of its chief rival, the Nissan Qashqai

You can play a game of Volkswagen Group MQB platform bingo with a lot of the Karoq's spec. There are five engines in the range, all direct-injection turbocharged units with EU6 emissions compliance, ranging from a three-cylinder 1.0-litre TSI unit with 113bhp to a range-topping 2.0-litre TDI with 187bhp. Four of the five engines offered on the Karoq were not offered on the Yeti. Front-wheel drive and a six-speed manual gearbox are standard, with four-wheel drive and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox offered with certain engines. 

Hidden under the camouflage of the development car we've been granted an early drive in is a look inspired by the larger seven-seat Kodiaq in Skoda's growing range of SUVs. We'll get to see the finished package on 18 May. 

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.

They'll also be very pleased with the Karoq's interior, which is one of its real highlights. The design has greater differentiation to those of its MQB siblings. The star is the addition of the digital instrument display known elsewhere as the Volkswagen Active Info Display and Audi Virtual Cockpit. It has made it into the Karoq as the imaginatively named Digital Instrument Panel, and shows key driving, sat-nav and infotainment information in the instrument binnacle. 

Elsewhere inside, the build quality is impressive, and the overall design and layout is inspired by the Kodiaq. This is a good thing.

Being a Skoda, rear space and boot space have been made a priority; the Karoq has lashings of both, with the storage space under the front seats a particularly nice touch. The removable Varioflex rear seats of the Yeti are carried over to the Karoq, and boot space is class leading, at 488 litres or maximum of 1810 litres in full van mode. 

Should I buy one?

The Karoq is likely to prove a winner off the back of the fact it does the things that all other Skodas do well to make them a success: by being better value than its rivals and offering more space. The Karoq already ticks the spaciousness box, and the indications are from insiders that the Karoq will actually undercut the Yeti, coming in at a very competitive £17,770.

It's a shame some of the Yeti's originality has been lost - and not just in the name - but, firm ride aside, buyers are unlikely to find anything to be put off by. The MQB train rolls on. 

Location Tallinn, Estonia; On sale late 2017; Price from £17,770 (est); Engine size 4cyls, 1968cc, diesel; Power 148bhp at 3500-4000rpm; Torque 251lb ft at 1750-3500rpm; Gearbox 7spd dual-clutch auto 0-62mph 8.7sec; Top speed 131mph; Fuel economy 56.5mpg; CO2/tax band 132g/km, 28%; Rivals Nissan QashqaiSeat Ateca

Join the debate

Comments
18

28 April 2017
Well I never! Actual disapproval of the tedious homogenisation of VAG world.

It is totally pointless to review this thing, and cruel to make a journalist try and find things to say about it.

I wish Autocar had taken a stand and refused to review it on the basis that they already had, with a different badge on.

28 April 2017
The most surprising thing about this car is that it deserves three consecutive articles in this site.

It's a rebadge. It shares bodyparts with the Ateca. Well, to be fair, this probably came first in the minds of VAG, the Ateca beeing made in a Skoda factory and all.

eseaton wrote:

I wish Autocar had taken a stand and refused to review it on the basis that they already had, with a different badge on.

AH!

 

 

A34

28 April 2017
... when a SEAT badge fore and aft would have done the trick!

28 April 2017
I'm not going to read this review straight away, I'm going to think what the review says and then read it and post back....

28 April 2017
Yep no news to report it hear at all..... everything I thought it would be

28 April 2017
It's an Ateca with soft springs! Oh be still my beating heart!

28 April 2017
At least it has the excellent varioflex seating from the Yeti and, by the sound of it, a decent interior instead of the horrible dash out of the Leon which the Ateca has to make do with.

28 April 2017
.. Wolseley, Riley, MG, Vanden Plas ...

Wide cars in a world of narrow.

29 April 2017
Herald wrote:

.. Wolseley, Riley, MG, Vanden Plas ...

Got it in one!

If PSA/GM can come up with unique styles and interiors for the various takes on the Peugeot 3008 (3008, C5 Aircross, Grandland X), then why can't VAG?

Sure share platforms, but don't badge-engineer like the bad old bays of British Leyland!

MrJ

28 April 2017
Dull me-too design that underlines the Yeti's originality.

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