What is it?
A sprinkle of fresh intrigue for the Skoda Karoq crossover hatchback – and it probably hasn’t come a moment too soon. Skoda’s Nissan Qashqai rival has been on UK roads for more than a year now, but if you’re not entirely sure that you’ve seen one in the raw, that may be because this car looks quite a lot like more than one of its current Volkswagen Group, MQB-platform model relations (and, rather unhelpfully, there are an increasing number of those). By contrast, the Karoq’s immediate predecessor, the Skoda Yeti, was so distinctive that you could recognise one at a range of a couple of hundred yards, at dusk, and through gathering fog.
Enter the Karoq Scout, then: a more rugged-looking variation on the Karoq’s established theme, that comes with four-wheel drive as standard and a few other offroady-specialised touches; but which, more importantly, also adds some rufty-tufty bumpers and a few other styling flourishes to better identify the car within the melee of overgrown family hatchbacks to which our roads have lately become host.
Mechanically at least, the Scout is little more than an interestingly equipped, mid-spec Karoq. It’s available with either of the car’s upper-level four-cylinder, 148bhp petrol or diesel engines, and with a choice of six-speed manual or seven-speed twin-clutch gearboxes.
Four-wheel drive as standard means that both versions get all-independent suspension, although there’s no greater ground clearance here and no heavy-duty shock absorbers. Nineteen-inch alloy wheels wrapped with Bridgestone Dueler SUV-intended tyres do come as standard, as does Skoda’s ‘rough road’ package (which gets you some protective panelling for the car’s engine, underbody and wheel arches – although it, too, can be had as an option on other Karoq derivatives).
You can augment the specification of your Scout if you choose to, meanwhile, with either ‘dynamic chassis control’ adaptive damping, variable-ratio ‘progressive’ steering, or both (although our test car had neither).