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First drive: Skoda Kamiq. Image by Skoda UK.

First drive: Skoda Kamiq
Kamiq apparently means ‘second skin’ in Inuit – so does Skoda’s new baby crossover, er… fit like a glove?

 



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Skoda Kamiq 1.0 TSI SE

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Skoda's K-Q-named crossover and SUV line-up has gone from nothing to three models in as many years, as the Kamiq B-segment baby joins its larger Karoq and even larger Kodiaq siblings in the Czech company's showrooms. It's not a flashy motor, the Kamiq, but it is supremely well-rounded in all departments and it might just be the best bet for those looking for a compact family machine that has a bundle of interior space.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Skoda Kamiq 1.0 TSI SE manual
Pricing: tbc; Kamiq expected to start from around £17,500, 1.0 TSI SE from around £19,950
Engine: 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol
Transmission: front-wheel drive, six-speed manual
Body style: five-door crossover
CO2 emissions: tbc
Combined economy: tbc
Top speed: 121mph
0-62mph: 9.9 seconds
Power: 115hp at 5,000-5,500rpm
Torque: 200Nm at 2,000-3,500rpm
Boot space: 400-1,395 litres

What's this?

It's a Volkswagen T-Cross with a slightly more mature outlook on life, a SEAT Arona with a more sensible, sizeable suit, a Skoda Scala jacked up off the deck by 39mm and given that mysterious sheen of extra desirability in the eyes of the buying public that only a crossover can seemingly attain - yup, it's the Skoda Kamiq, the final piece in the three-bit, high-riding puzzle for the Bohemian lot. Considering that as 2016 hoved into view, Skoda had nothing but the Yeti and Octavia Scout with which to satisfy crossover/SUV/off-roading (or, indeed, on-roading, nudge nudge, wink wink...) fans, it's a quite remarkable turnaround in such a short space of time to have a triumvirate of such tall vehicles on offer before 2020 is here. But then, with the might of Volkswagen and Audi and all their SUV products in the back storeroom, it wasn't beyond Skoda's wit to whip three such machines out in as many years. See also SEAT's Arona, Ateca and Tarraco launches for further details.

So, joining the bigger two 'starts with a K, ends in a Q' Skoda SUVs is the Kamiq. It's sat on the MQB A0 platform and competes in the hugely congested sector that, once upon a time, was mainly dominated by the Nissan Juke and nothing much else. These days, it's harder to think of manufacturers which DON'T have a B-segment crossover than those which do, so Skoda was previously conspicuous only by its notable absence.

The smartly styled Kamiq should change all this, though. It looks very pleasant on the outside; new treatment of the front LED daytime running lights and main illumination gives the Kamiq a distinctive face all of its own, one which we happen to like, and at the back it has the word 'S K O D A' all spaced out across its bootlid which is all the fashion these days, daaahling, but if you look at a Kamiq and a Karoq side by side, perhaps the most diplomatic thing to say is that it's abundantly clear to determine that they're hewn from the same material. Although there is one difference; the Kamiq has slightly ungainly proportions in profile - there's something about its stretched wheelbase and teeny-tiny overhangs that makes all the styling cues aft of the back doors look a touch, well, crammed in.

Not to worry, though. Because the Kamiq has hidden talents. Or, rather, concealed talents. Which, er... are rather easily revealed by simply opening the doors and climbing aboard. Like many a modern Skoda before it, the Kamiq has lots of room for human beings - all facilitated by that aforementioned wheelbase, which measures an unbeatable-for-the-class 2,651mm. The Kamiq is also the broadest vehicle in this segment at 1,793mm, which means there's genuinely plenty of space within for four adults (or two adults and three older children) and a 400-litre boot out back. Not only that, but the Kamiq is beautifully finished, with plush materials used and the firm's latest 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster/9.2-inch infotainment touchscreen available, both of which make the Skoda feel properly cutting edge and of-the-minute. Exact UK specs and prices are to be confirmed, and it's a given that that top-grade human-machine interface won't be standard across the board, but expect plenty of toys on all models, lots of choice options, a wealth of active and passive safety kit, and a plethora of the brand's Simply Clever solutions to mitigate the stresses and hassle of modern motoring life.

Perhaps our only real aesthetic or ergonomic gripe is the seating position. Which is fantastic, by the way, with a full range of adjustment and really comfy seats. No, the issue here is that, well, you don't feel like you sit particularly high in the Kamiq. Indeed, driving it around on the test routes, it was appreciably no taller than older, early-2010s superminis. And surely the point of a crossover in the first place is that you don't feel like you're just driving a hatchback? Look at the Skoda from outside, sit in its driver's chair, do what you can to convince yourself you're in something SUV-like but we reckon you're going to always think and feel like you're in a car. It's a bit low and, um... car-like.

Finally, engines. Three are confirmed for the Kamiq but the most potent, a 150hp/250Nm four-cylinder turbocharged petrol of 1.5 litres in capacity, is not yet ratified for CO2 emissions and the like, so it will join the range a few more months down the line. Indeed, Skoda is (as of writing) not yet revealing anything about the eco-stats of the entire range, but both the 1.0-litre, three-cylinder TSI turbo petrol and the 1.6-litre, four-cylinder TDI turbodiesel are ready to order. The latter comes in a solitary 115hp/250Nm trim, while the former is available with 95hp and 175Nm, or 115hp and 200Nm. All Kamiqs drive their front wheels only through manual gearboxes as standard (five-speed on the 95hp TSI, six-speed on the other two), with a seven-speed DSG twin-clutch auto an option on the 115hp motors. With UK trim lines expected to run S, SE and then SE L (and possibly Sportline or even Monte Carlo), Skoda's chiefs here on these shores are predicting a 1.0-litre TSI 115hp model in SE spec will be the big seller, with no preference from buyers on either gearbox. So it's that powerplant, with the standard-fit manual, which we're going to focus on here.

How does it drive?

Unless you need your B-segment crossover to hare up mountain roads like it's in a cut-price version of the Monte Carlo Rally, then the Skoda Kamiq 1.0 TSI is probably one of the best things you could purchase in this segment. Its handling, probably its weakest dynamic suit, is by no means bad. The steering is light yet consistently weighted and decently accurate too, while front-end grip is immense; understeer only really appears with the most wicked and nonsensical of provocation from the driver. That means it's a clean, impressive machine through the corners, thanks to a good level of body control (there's acceptable lean and squidge in the suspension, nothing more) to keep things nice and tidy, but it'd be a stretch of the imagination to say the Kamiq is particularly exciting with this 115hp engine.

One of the reasons for that is comically long gearing. On one testing uphill route with a lot of hairpins and some reasonably longish straights, we barely got the crossover out of second, such was that ratio's reach. This is a direct result of emissions legislation, so there's little Skoda can do about it, but it does somewhat blunt what accelerative force the perky TSI has. However, this doesn't make it a bad powertrain; the gearbox itself is one of those oh-so-delicate VW Group shifters, which takes barely any effort to slide through the cogs, while the 1.0-litre triple is a little gem. Even if you rev it out to 5,500rpm, with the windows shut you'll barely hear its exertions and it stays velvet-smooth from idle to redline. With a fair old slug of lower-midrange torque, you don't need to work it that hard to make acceptable progress relative to other traffic and it's much lighter over the nose than the far noisier, gruffer TDI, which also concomitantly feels heavy and lumpen to steer through corners when compared to the TSI.

Otherwise, the Kamiq is excellent. Suppression of other noises, beyond the engine, is almost absolute, while the ride quality is superb. There are actually two chassis options: the regular one, sitting 39mm taller than a Scala and fitted with passive springs/shock absorbers; and then a sport version, which is 10mm lower and equipped with two-stage switchable dampers. In all truth, the standard suspension set-up did a magnificent job of smothering lumps and bumps in the road, while making sure the Kamiq's shell didn't lurch around on its underpinnings, so we'd say it's easily as urbane and serene to live with as any competitor product. In fact, we'd even say it feels more cultured than the T-Cross with which it shares so much. Now how about that for an outcome?

Verdict

The Skoda Kamiq's strengths are its epic refinement and its class-leading interior space. Without being flashy, hugely exciting or even particularly youthful - we can think of other B-segment crossovers which offer more in the way of attention-grabbing two-tone colour schemes and personalisation gewgaws - the Kamiq nevertheless becomes one of the go-to products in this market segment with a very strong all-round performance. If Skoda UK gets the pricing and specs right, we might even shift the likeable Kamiq's overall mark up further once we drive it again on home territory. An understandably, expectedly brilliant little machine, this.

4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Interior Ambience

5 5 5 5 5 Passenger Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Luggage Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Safety

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Comfort

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 23 Aug 2019









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2019 Skoda Kamiq 1.0 TSI. Image by Skoda UK.2019 Skoda Kamiq 1.0 TSI. Image by Skoda UK.2019 Skoda Kamiq 1.0 TSI. Image by Skoda UK.2019 Skoda Kamiq 1.0 TSI. Image by Skoda UK.2019 Skoda Kamiq 1.0 TSI. Image by Skoda UK.

2019 Skoda Kamiq 1.0 TSI. Image by Skoda UK.2019 Skoda Kamiq 1.0 TSI. Image by Skoda UK.2019 Skoda Kamiq 1.0 TSI. Image by Skoda UK.2019 Skoda Kamiq 1.0 TSI. Image by Skoda UK.2019 Skoda Kamiq 1.0 TSI. Image by Skoda UK.








 

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