The Scout’s 2.0-litre TDI four-pot diesel engine is probably the smallest and slightest motor of its kind that you might seriously consider, in theory, in a car for which you have regular towing or a bit of light off-roading in mind.
That’s principally because you might reasonably expect a broader spread of accessible torque, and better drivability, of it than you’d see in the more highly tuned, smaller-capacity diesels of similar peak power output that are becoming increasingly common in such cars.
So, would that rationale lead you to this car for the right reasons? Ultimately, yes – but not emphatically so. The Karoq’s 2.0-litre TDI feels stout enough in its supply of midrange torque to handle a decent-sized caravan or trailer, or to haul itself up a muddy slope, when it’s on boost.
But it’s also not quite as flexible in its power delivery as you might hope for, feeling notably unresponsive if you let the rev counter drop much below 2000rpm in a higher gear, and getting surprisingly obstreperous and impotent above 4000rpm. It’s enough to suggest that the electronic governance necessary to make a 2.0-litre diesel competitive with a 1.6 or 1.7 on the WLTP emissions testing regime may now entirely negate any advantage that the bigger cubic capacity would otherwise have created for a car on drivability.
Whatever the root cause, the symptoms are fairly plain – although, in day-to-day driving, they certainly wouldn’t be problematic. Make regular enough use of the Karoq’s slightly notchy and particular-feeling manual gearshift to be in a well-chosen gear whenever possible and the engine works fairly quietly and can pull the car along swiftly enough – as a sub-9.0sec 0-60mph clocking proves.
The four-wheel drive seems to find ample and sure-footed traction even under sudden throttle applications and in slightly slippery road conditions. Outright braking power is good, with adequate pedal feel that slowing and stopping a moderately heavy trailer with smoothness would be easy enough.
The Karoq’s fuel economy, 38.0mpg at test average and 47.1mpg on our touring run, is pretty standard for a crossover of this size – and wouldn’t be a selling point for the car in a class in which we’ve seen touring returns of better than 55mpg from diesel-powered options. Better could be expected, of course, of Skoda’s smaller-capacity oil-burner running smaller wheels and tyres.