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Driven: Skoda Karoq Edition. Image by Skoda.

Driven: Skoda Karoq Edition
Skoda's mid-sized SUV is, as is typical of this company, a little beauty of a machine.

 



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Skoda Karoq Edition

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

Good points: Great looks, spacious and well-equipped interior, lovely drivetrain, refined manners

Not so good: Handling less vivacious than that on the near-identical Ateca, cabin could just do with a touch more visual pizzazz

Key Facts

Model tested: Skoda Karoq Edition 150 TSI
Price: Karoq starts from 20,875; Edition 150 TSI from 27,110; car as tested 29,410
Engine: 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol
Transmission: front-wheel drive, six-speed manual
Body style: five-door SUV
CO2 emissions: 125g/km (VED 160 first 12 months, then 140 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 51.4mpg
Top speed: 126mph
0-62mph: 8.4 seconds
Power: 150hp at 5,000-6,000rpm
Torque: 250Nm at 1,500-3,500rpm

Our view:

Skoda, as a marque, is really a success story like no other. It should warm the cockles of even the hardest heart when you consider that, back in the 1980s and early 1990s, the brand was not just niche interest (like, say, Dacia is right now), but a complete joke - people talked about Skodas the same way they talked about Ladas. And then Volkswagen got hold of the Czech company and started injecting a bit of cash and know-how, and now suddenly we're in the position where, of the four mainstream brands of the Volkswagen Group, it's Skoda which we like - and would therefore recommend - the most of all.

Every car the company makes nowadays is just so damned amenable, but where the Citigo, Fabia and Rapid are all worthy without being wonderful, once you start getting up to the bigger machines in Skoda's line-up, you start wondering why on Earth you'd look at anything else that's remotely comparable.

The Octavia, save for its awful facelift with the four-headlight treatment, is a gigantic, D-segment-esque hatchback/estate that's priced at C-segment levels and built on the same floorplan as a physically much smaller Volkswagen Golf. The Superb is just that; utterly superb, in every detail. And the Kodiaq is probably one of the very best seven-seat SUVs you could wish to find.

So, talking of SUVs, here's a chance to get some time in behind the wheel of the mid-sized Skoda model, the Karoq. Available with the usual array of lovely Volkswagen Group three- and four-cylinder turbocharged petrol and diesel engines, and either six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG gearboxes (four-wheel drive is available on the top 2.0 TDI but almost all UK Karoqs will be front-wheel drive, we'd wager), there's a healthy level of choice in the Karoq line-up that means there should be a Czech C-segment SUV/crossover to suit every conceivable need.

This model we're testing is a 150hp 1.5-litre TSI petrol, with the clever 'Evo' engine that can switch off two of its cylinders during light throttle loads. The SUV is finished in range-topping Edition trim, meaning a lengthy standard kit list including the gorgeous and largest 9.2-inch Columbus satnav, heated front seats with leather upholstery all round, cruise control, dual-zone climate control, Qi wireless smartphone charging, keyless entry and go, a panoramic sunroof and the clever Varioflex rear seats that all slide individually - or which can even be removed altogether, if you want the most cargo space possible. Like any self-respecting Skoda, the Karoq is massive inside for five adults and the 521-litre boot is huge (going by the standards of this class) anyway... and absolutely cavernous if you take those rear chairs out, standing at 1,810 litres.

To this generous specification (the list above being by no means exhaustive, by the way), options on our test car included heating for the leather, three-spoke, multifunction steering wheel (150), Auto Light Assist with automatic high beam (200), an Exclusive colour (Velvet Red, for 345), ISOFIX on the front passenger seat (35), a heated windscreen and washer nozzles (250), a space-saving steel spare wheel (150), Care Connect for three years (400) and the Virtual Pedal 'open the boot with a foot motion' feature (650). Skoda's excellent 120 Family Pack, comprising power-operated child safety lock buttons on the driver's armrest, heat-insulating side glass from the B-pillar back, a double-sided mat in the luggage compartment and a rubbish bin in the door pocket, is another example of how fairly Skoda prices its options (650 for the Virtual Pedal looks steep, though), and with all this added our fully-loaded, extremely luxurious-feeling test car still came in the right side of 30 grand... but only just.

Thing is, you'd probably pay a lot more for a comparable-spec Volkswagen Tiguan. And yet the Skoda feels every bit as nice to travel in as that supposedly more-upmarket vehicle. Like many products from the Czech marque, the Karoq is never tremendous fun to drive, even if you're on your own in it on a back road and you start throwing it around like a fool, but it's actually one of the company's better dynamic creations, blending good body control and surprisingly positive steering with a typically fantastic ride; even on the lovely-looking 19-inch Crater alloys and fixed-rate suspension, the Karoq never struggles to smooth out poor road surfaces.

Its strength, though, is its refinement and terrific ease-of-use - again, Volkswagen Group-wide traits, these, but that's no reason to deny the Skoda praise for its classy comportment. Cruising around on local A- and B-roads only, the Karoq feels like a big, premium SUV, rather than a slightly taller hatchback. The prevention of any notable noise seeping into the cabin is exceptional and the light, consistent touch of all the major controls makes it a fantastic companion. Within minutes of driving off down the road in it, you envisage the Karoq slotting into your life very easily indeed and even if you go with this petrol model instead of a diesel, the fuel returns are impressive - the Skoda gave back 35.6mpg overall across 173 miles, with a best of 41.6mpg when travelling into Nottingham at a steady speed, and it never once went near a dual-carriageway or motorway. So you'd probably get 45mpg and more out of it on long runs with little difficulty.

It would be very easy, if you were a big fan of the company's previous C-segment crossover, the idiosyncratic Yeti, to view the Karoq as the pantomime villain of the piece: here is Skoda, killing off one of its most adored vehicles that has built up a staunchly loyal following during the best part of a decade in production, in favour of something more generic to look at and not that much different to, say, a SEAT Ateca. But that kind of misses the point of how incredibly appealing and likeable the Karoq is. It doesn't do anything spectacular, yet it's not boring. It boasts refinement in spades, but it's not totally without merit in the handling stakes. The interior lacks for a little visual sparkle, but it's so wonderfully put together, laid-out, equipped and capacious that you simply don't care.

The Karoq Edition, in short, is another classic example of 'Modern Skoda': excellent in every detail. It's simply further confirmation of the ongoing phenomenal success story of this once-derided marque and, as C-segment crossovers/SUVs go, it should be one of the first machines you look at if you're interested in buying one. We think it's absolutely kraqqing (sorry...).

Alternatives:

Peugeot 3008: Peugeot monsters the Karoq for interior razzmatazz and it's a touch more interesting to behold outside, but the Skoda has the more refined drivetrain.

SEAT Ateca: SEAT majors on driving fun and the Ateca - based on the same floorplan as the Karoq - is a little bit more enjoyable to steer. Karoq has the better cabin finishing by way of compensation.

Toyota C-HR: If you want daring visuals in this class, little is more striking than the Toyota - but it comes with some rear-seat/boot compromises and much less engine choice than the Skoda.


Matt Robinson - 11 Mar 2018









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2018 Skoda Karoq. Image by Skoda.2018 Skoda Karoq. Image by Skoda.2018 Skoda Karoq. Image by Skoda.2018 Skoda Karoq. Image by Skoda.2018 Skoda Karoq. Image by Skoda.

2018 Skoda Karoq. Image by Skoda.2018 Skoda Karoq. Image by Skoda.2018 Skoda Karoq. Image by Skoda.2018 Skoda Karoq. Image by Skoda.2018 Skoda Karoq. Image by Skoda.








 

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