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First drive: 2022 Skoda Karoq. Image by Skoda.

First drive: 2022 Skoda Karoq
The Karoq’s updates are mainly aesthetic, but is that enough to keep the Skoda among the best in class?

   



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2022 Skoda Karoq

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The Skoda Karoq has become a staple of the Czech brand's range, merging practicality and capability with Skoda's trademark value for money. Now, the car has been lightly updated with a new front-end design that's more in keeping with the larger Kodiaq and a reworked interior. To find out whether the revamp has worked, we hit the road in a high-end SportLine model with the popular 2.0-litre diesel engine.

Test Car Specifications

Model: 2022 Skoda Karoq SportLine 2.0 TDI 150 DSG 4x4
Price: £38,085 (as tested)
Engine: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged diesel
Transmission: seven-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Power: 150hp
Torque: 360Nm
Emissions: 151-154g/km
Economy: 47.9-48.7mpg
0-62mph: 8.7 seconds
Top speed: 126mph
Boot space: 521 - 1,630 litres

Styling

The most obvious addition to the facelifted Karoq’s design is the new grille, which is a little more upright and bold – just as it is on the new Kodiaq. Other tweaks include the lights and wheels, but otherwise it’s much as it was before. Which means this SportLine variant adds black exterior trim and sporty bumpers, as well as big alloy wheels finished in black. It’s designed to look sporty, but on a family SUV the effect is a little underwhelming. To our minds, it’s better to stick with the understated chrome trim of less motorsport-inspired models.

Interior

The Karoq's cabin is broadly unchanged, but Skoda has fitted the latest-generation steering wheel also found on the Kodiaq and the Octavia. It gives the car a more upmarket feel, but the Karoq already felt pretty good. While not as visually interesting as that of a Mazda CX-5 or even a VW Tiguan, the Skoda's cabin is solid and well engineered, with surprisingly supple materials and tactile switchgear. For those who still joke about Skoda build quality, the joke's on you.

And don't think that quality comes at the expense of technology. Skoda has not just fitted a touchscreen infotainment system as standard, but there's also a digital instrument cluster with a selection of displays to choose from. It isn't as fancy as the system in an Audi, but it's clear, easy to read and easily configurable, allowing you to see the information you want.

The touchscreen is more or less unchanged from the previous-generation Karoq, but that's no bad thing. Perhaps the display isn't quite as sharp as it could be, but it's simple to navigate, the menus are set out logically and the icons are big and easy to use on the move. If the graphics bother you, plug in your phone to access the Android Auto or Apple CarPlay integration system that comes as standard and the screen looks much more modern.

Practicality

The Karoq is not a particularly enormous car – it’s only about 10cm (4in) longer than a VW Golf – but Skoda’s brand is all about practicality, so it has ensured the Karoq offers plenty of luggage space. In total, there’s 521 litres of boot space – that’s more than you get in the closely related Seat Ateca and more than you’ll find in a Ford Kuga – and that grows to a mammoth 1,630 litres with the rear seats removed (yes, you can do that with a Karoq). That’s roughly what you get in the massive Audi A6 Avant.

That load-carrying capacity is matched by passenger space, with acres of room in the front and plenty in the back, too. Even six-foot adults won’t be short of leg- or headroom in the back of a Karoq. And because of the optional removable seating, which Skoda calls VarioFlex, you get almost infinite flexibility. Unless, of course, you want to carry six passengers. You need the larger Kodiaq for that.

Performance

The Karoq is available with a selection of petrol and diesel engines ranging from the 1.0-litre, 110hp option to the 2.0-litre models, with up to 190hp. We tested the 2.0-litre, 150hp diesel engine, which has been a popular choice among customers thanks to its mixture of performance and economy. However, our test car came with the seven-speed automatic gearbox and all-wheel-drive system, which we'd recommend.

With that engine on board, performance is solid rather than spectacular, and 0-62mph takes a respectable 8.7 seconds. The engine gets a bit noisy at times, with its traditional diesel rattle, but that's partly the gearbox's doing. You can take manual control using the paddles on the wheel or let it do its thing.

Do that, and it will reward you with great fuel economy. Skoda claims this version of the Karoq will manage just under 50mpg, but we managed to top that on a long run. It's a rare case of a car proving more economical than the manufacturer claims. Unfortunately, it uses an annoying lift-and-coast system to achieve that, effectively cutting the engine braking to improve the distance the car can travel on a given amount of diesel. But that impacts drivability, and makes the car feel less natural. Were there a manual 4x4 model with this engine, we'd recommend it wholeheartedly.

Ride & Handling

The Karoq doesn't really focus on handling, but it still manages to give a good account of itself on winding roads. The body is well controlled and though the steering doesn't have much feel, it still feels substantial and reassuring. It gives you some confidence to throw the Karoq into corners, and when you do, it rewards you with plenty of grip.

Of course, comfort is more important for Karoq customers, and there the car struggles slightly. Admittedly, the SportLine models get big 19-inch alloy wheels and that may have impacted the ride, but the new Karoq feels a little less supple than its predecessor. It's great on the motorway and the seats are very supportive, but the low-speed ride is a little bit jiggly. We'll have to wait until we've tried a less sport-orientated model to pass final judgement, though.

We didn't get much chance to try out the Karoq's off-road credentials, either, but with all-wheel-drive and plenty of ground clearance, it should cope well on the rough stuff. On loose surfaces, there was plenty of traction, and the car didn't falter when the rain came down, so first impressions are good.

Value

Karoq prices start at just over £26,000, which makes the Skoda about £1,000 more expensive than the less practical Nissan Qashqai and more than £3,000 cheaper than the basic VW Tiguan. Considering even entry-level versions get 17-inch alloy wheels, satellite navigation and rear parking sensors, it isn't bad value.

However, our 2.0-litre diesel test car, in high-end SportLine trim, came with a list price of just over £38,000, and that's quite a lot. Especially when the more luxurious SE L model with the same engine, gearbox and all-wheel-drive system costs £3,000 less. While the all-wheel-drive diesel options make a lot of sense, the SportLine doesn't.

Verdict

The Karoq is a very appealing proposition, but the latest-generation version is not a vast improvement on the previous iteration. In fact, those who don't much like the new styling, it's arguably worse.

While the SportLine model adds some styling features that might prove popular, the Karoq is better suited to more luxurious guises. But while the trim level might not represent value, the 2.0-litre diesel engine remains a strong choice, particularly when teamed with an automatic gearbox and all-wheel-drive. With so many rivals reverting to petrol power, it feels a bit gruff, although economy of more than 50mpg on a long run means that's a sin we're happy to forgive.



James Fossdyke - 22 Jul 2022



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2022 Skoda Karoq SportLine 2.0 TDI 150 DSG 4x4. Image by Skoda.2022 Skoda Karoq SportLine 2.0 TDI 150 DSG 4x4. Image by Skoda.2022 Skoda Karoq SportLine 2.0 TDI 150 DSG 4x4. Image by Skoda.2022 Skoda Karoq SportLine 2.0 TDI 150 DSG 4x4. Image by Skoda.2022 Skoda Karoq SportLine 2.0 TDI 150 DSG 4x4. Image by Skoda.

2022 Skoda Karoq SportLine 2.0 TDI 150 DSG 4x4. Image by Skoda.2022 Skoda Karoq SportLine 2.0 TDI 150 DSG 4x4. Image by Skoda.2022 Skoda Karoq SportLine 2.0 TDI 150 DSG 4x4. Image by Skoda.2022 Skoda Karoq SportLine 2.0 TDI 150 DSG 4x4. Image by Skoda.







 

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