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First drive: Skoda Karoq prototype. Image by Skoda.

First drive: Skoda Karoq prototype
The Yeti is no more, say hello to the Skoda Karoq crossover.

   



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Skoda Karoq prototype

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As the Yeti model is phased out, Skoda has much bigger aspirations for its effective replacement, the new Karoq. Slotting in under the Kodiaq to form the second phase of Skoda's SUV offensive, this compact SUV promises class-leading passenger space, striking looks and a refined driving experience that is increasingly becoming a hallmark of the Czech car maker.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Skoda Karoq 2.0 TDI DSG 4x4 prototype
Pricing: estimated to start at 17,000
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel
Transmission: seven-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
Body style: five-door, five-seat SUV
CO2 emissions: 132g/km (200 first year VED, then 140 per annum)
Combined economy: 55.3mpg
Power: 150hp at 3,500rpm
Torque: 340Nm at 1,750rpm
Boot space: 521 litres (seats up), 1,630 litres (seats down)

What's this?

Underneath that distorting camouflage is what is essentially the replacement for the Skoda Yeti crossover. Called the Karoq, it will slot in beneath the Kodiaq to form the second strand in Skoda's new SUV line-up.

This five-seat compact SUV measures in at 4,382mm in length and 1,841mm wide, placing it right in the sweet spot when it comes to sizing for the segment. It is perhaps not quite right to compare this to the Yeti it replaces, but the Karoq is larger in virtually every aspect. From its 521-litre boot capacity to its rear passenger space and comfort, this SUV is set to be one of the most spacious in the segment.

How does it drive?

Even though our time driving pre-production versions of the Skoda Karoq was limited, it was enough to determine how the new crossover should perform both on- and off-road, even if the latter is all but irrelevant in this segment. Given that it shares many of its underpinnings with the Volkswagen Tiguan and SEAT Ateca (which Skoda actually produces for SEAT in its factory), it isn't surprising to find some similarities in how they handle. The Karoq's ride isn't as stiffly sprung as the sportier Ateca; in fact, it's almost as polished as the Tiguan is. Skoda is also planning to introduce Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) shortly after market launch, offering adjustable dampers in place of the already well-sorted passive items.

Over broken tarmac the Karoq soaks up much of the surface imperfections without the ride becoming busy. Its damping seems spot on for its size and weight. Naturally, there is some body lean through the corners, but composure isn't unduly affected. The steering feels well-judged and communicates enough feedback through the wheel to satisfy keener drivers, too.

The 2.0-litre TDI engine provides a familiar driving experience in the Karoq. Like the numerous other models within the Volkswagen Group that use this engine, there is plenty of low-down torque. It's well suited to a pairing with the seven-speed DSG automatic transmission, which slips through gear changes smoothly, even in Sport mode when it holds onto each ratio that little bit longer. Our test car also featured the all-wheel-drive transmission. All 4x4 models will feature a dedicated off-road button, which is a separate drive mode to that available in the front-wheel-drive versions. It reduces the throttle sensitivity and tweaks the stability control functions to allow for better traction on loose surfaces. A short off-road trail did little to challenge the Karoq, but its near-instantaneous redistribution of power between the wheels should prove as useful on frosty mornings as it does in the woods.

Confirming the Karoq's great potential is the new 1.5-litre TSI petrol engine. This turbocharged four-cylinder unit is also available with 150hp and the same transmission choices. Compared to the similarly powerful 2.0-litre TDI diesel, this petrol engine makes the Karoq feel much more lively. Its smooth running is complemented by lower operating noise, making the car feel even more refined.

Verdict

Although these pre-production prototypes represent part of the final sign-off process for the Karoq and not quite the finished article, it is clear that Skoda has developed a highly competent SUV that will appeal to a much wider audience than the Yeti ever did. The Karoq's more conventional styling in comparison to the Yeti, combined with its practicality and impressive on-road performance, is sure to make it one of the new must-have compact SUVs when it goes on sale towards the end of 2017.

4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

5 5 5 5 5 Passenger Space

5 5 5 5 5 Luggage Space

4 4 4 4 4 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

4 4 4 4 4 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain


Dave Humphreys - 29 Apr 2017



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








 

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