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First Drive: Skoda Karoq. Image by Skoda.

First Drive: Skoda Karoq
New mid-sized Skoda SUV picks up where the Yeti left off.

 



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Skoda Karoq

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

Following in the wheeltracks of the successful Skoda Kodiaq comes its smaller sibling, the Karoq. This five-seat SUV in a way replaces the Yeti, which had become something of a cult hero. While the Karoq is a more conventional SUV in appearance, it still has plenty of familiar and clever Skoda ingredients to make it stand out.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Skoda Karoq 1.6 TDI SE L
Price: 25,195
Engine: 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel
Transmission: six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Body style: five-seat SUV
Combined economy: 56.5mpg
Top speed: 116mph
0-62mph: 10.4 seconds
Power: 115hp at 3,250- to 4,000rpm
Torque: 250Nm at 1,500- to 3,200rpm

What's this?

Take a good look at the new Skoda Karoq and get used to it because you're likely to be seeing an awful lot of them on the roads from 2018. As you may have guessed just by looking at it, the Karoq is Skoda's alternative to the SEAT Ateca and Volkswagen Tiguan, all of which share much of the same underpinnings and engines.

These days, kerbside appeal can be just as important as how a car drives for some SUV buyers, and the Karoq strikes a delicate balance of stylish looks, sharp lines without being in-your-face. In fact, its styling is a tad better resolved than the larger Skoda Kodiaq.

Inside there's a well-appointed cabin that up front provides a good driving position with clear visibility. The Karoq comes in three trim levels: SE, SE L and Edition. Standard equipment, even on the SE, is good, with all models getting 17-inch alloy wheels, privacy glass and dual-zone climate control. SE L models gain the eight-inch 'Amundsen' touchscreen system with Smartlink+, keyless entry, full LED headlights and Alcantara upholstery among the standard features.

The Karoq scores well in the spaciousness stakes, with generous leg and headroom for rear passengers. It's also possible to specify the Karoq with Skoda's VarioFlex rear seat option. These allow for greater versatility and can easily and quickly be removed if not required, boosting the already decent boot space even further. Usually, that boot is 521 litres, and capable of expanding to 1,630 litres. But with the VarioFlex seats removed, the Karoq becomes almost van-like in its capacity, with 1,810 litres of volume available.

How does it drive?

While Skoda is offering some very competent and impressive petrol engines in the Karoq, including the new 1.0-litre TSI, it is diesel power that remains more prominent in buyers' minds at the moment. The 1.6 TDI is a good match for the Karoq given its size and weight. With 115hp on tap, there is enough in reserve to cope with the vast majority of daily driving with ease, and the optional seven-speed DSG automatic transmission adds to the relaxed driving experience. The only times when the 1.6 TDI feels lacking is when attempting quick overtakes, but in virtually every other scenario, it performs well.

Skoda offer four-wheel drive, but only in conjunction with the larger 2.0-litre TDI. It's only really needed for those looking planning on doing lots of driving in the country like green laning or towing. Others will merely prefer the additional power of the 150hp engine, although it will be a touch more thirsty in the fuel consumption stakes.

On the road, the front-wheel drive Karoq feels planted and grips quite well through faster bends. It is indeed a car that drivers will feel confident in. Skoda's engineers have clearly spent a lot of time fine-tuning the suspension setup for each model, and that effort is evident when you drive it. Bumps are effortlessly soaked up, yet there's enough firmness to allow you to make progress without it seeming to lack composure.

Adding a further layer to this is the optional Dynamic Chassis Control that features adjustable damping and three selectable drive modes. Those modes also affect the steering weight, with the Sport setting adding some weight on turn-in. Unlike many cars with electrically-assisted steering, the Skoda has a natural feel to the wheel.

Verdict

There is an ever -decreasing gap differentiating the latest SUVs in this highly competitive segment. Nevertheless, the Skoda Karoq has all the right ingredients to make it an exceptionally complete package. Its styling is just sharp enough without being divisive, and it drives and handles very well. There are numerous storage areas and a practical boot making it well-placed to serve as the ideal family car.

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

4 4 4 4 4 Passenger Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Luggage Space

5 5 5 5 5 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain


Dave Humphreys - 20 Nov 2017









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2017 Skoda Karoq drive. Image by Skoda.2017 Skoda Karoq drive. Image by Skoda.2017 Skoda Karoq drive. Image by Skoda.2017 Skoda Karoq drive. Image by Skoda.2017 Skoda Karoq drive. Image by Skoda.

2017 Skoda Karoq drive. Image by Skoda.2017 Skoda Karoq drive. Image by Skoda.2017 Skoda Karoq drive. Image by Skoda.2017 Skoda Karoq drive. Image by Skoda.2017 Skoda Karoq drive. Image by Skoda.








 

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