Carzone tests Skoda's new Compact SUV on Irish roads
Pros: Comfortable and spacious cabin, touch screen infotainment, running costs
Cons: Conservative styling, rivals more fun to drive
The latest addition to Skoda’s growing SUV stable comes in the all-new Karoq, which replaces the Skoda Yeti of old and lines up in the hotly-contested compact SUV class against the Nissan Qashqai, Renault Kadjar and Hyundai Tucson amongst others. The Karoq gets off to a good start too, with styling ques from the Skoda Kodiaq, the same underpinnings as the SEAT Ateca SUV and a range of turbocharged petrol and diesel engines, which on paper, should be well-suited to Irish buyers. Can the Karoq elevate Skoda to the top of the compact SUV sales charts? We recently spent a week with it on Irish roads to see what it is like to live with.
What is it like?
Although the Karoq is the Kodiaq’s smaller sibling, it shares lots of similarities in terms of styling, including a similar front grille, pronounced front and rear lights and rugged side styling and creases. The Karoq’s styling is much less controversial than the Yeti however, though it is one of the more reserved designs in the compact SUV class. In standard Ambition specification, the Karoq wears 16-inch alloy wheels and chrome roof rails, while our high specification Style test car is equipped with 18-inch alloys wheels, tinted rear windows, an exterior chrome package and full LED headlights. Those looking for presence in a compact package will be pleased by the Karoq.
Stepping inside, it’s clear that the Karoq takes lots of inspiration from the larger Skoda Kodiaq. The driver’s area is unfussy with lots of good quality materials and a commanding view of the road. The seats are comfortable and supportive with a reasonable range of adjustment available to front seat passengers, and there is enough head and leg room to seat five adults in comfort. Very tall passengers may find leg room is somewhat limited in the rear however.
Our test car is fitted with Skoda’s 9.2-inch touch screen system which is a pleasure to use and it presents infotainment in vivid fashion, with gesture control functionality, Wi-Fi hotspot and smartphone connectivity. Entry-level Ambition models even get an eight-inch touch screen system as standard, which means the Karoq is one of the best-equipped compact SUVs at this price point. The Karoq’s boot offers 521 litres of room which is on par with its rivals, and this increases to 1810 litres when the rear seats are folded down. There are plenty of storage areas throughout the cabin too including a large storage box underneath the driver’s armrest and sizeable door bins.
The Karoq is available with two turbocharged petrol engines (1.0-litre TSI, 1.5-litre TSI) and two turbocharged diesels (1.6-litre TDI, 2.0-litre TDI). We drove the 150 horsepower 1.5-litre TSI petrol Karoq with a six-speed manual gearbox, and it’s lively out on the road with 0-100km/h taking just 8.4 seconds. The Karoq is also available in all-wheel-drive guise, however front wheel drive model should suffice for most buyer’s needs. We achieved circa 7l/100km in fuel economy during our time with the 1.5TSI-powered Karoq, and annual motor tax is rated at €270. Those seeking better fuel economy should consider the 1.6TDI diesel with claimed returns of under 5l/100km.
Out on the road, the Karoq is smooth and refined to drive, with responsive steering and a suspension setup that is well-suited to Irish roads. Even with the large 18-inch wheels on our test car, the Karoq makes easy work of bumpy roads and grips reassuringly in wet conditions. Although it shares identical underpinnings with the SEAT Ateca SUV, its doesn’t corner as sharply however due to a softer suspension setup.
Prices for the new Skoda Karoq start from €26,950 in base Ambition specification. The entry model is equipped with 16-inch alloy wheels in petrol guise or larger 17-inch wheels in diesel guise, while features such as a Bolero 8-inch touch screen system, dual zone climate control, rear parking sensors and LED daytime running lights are all included.
Stepping up to Style specification adds black interior upholstery and décor, 18-inch alloy wheels, a 9.2-inch Solumbus touch screen system with satellite navigation and keyless entry and start, a reversing camera and lots more. Our test car is generously-equipped with a suite of optional upgrades including Adaptive Cruise Control, a Styling Plus Pack and leather upholstery, and it bumps the asking price to €32,915.
Carzone verdict: 4/5
Although the compact SUV class is brimming with choice, the Karoq is a standout option thanks to its refined cabin, flexible engines and superb infotainment. The Karoq’s cabin offers plenty of space for family use and it enters the market at competitive price point with generous levels of equipment and low running costs, particularly in diesel guise. The Karoq’s styling is rather conservative however and some of its rivals are more fun to drive out on the road. That said, the Karoq is a very well-rounded compact SUV package, and one that is likely to feature as a class favourite for years to come.
Test Car Details:
Model driven: Skoda Karoq Style 1.5TSI Manual
Prices from: €26,950
Price as tested: €32,915
Annual Road Tax: €270
Engine: 1495cc four-cylinder turbocharged petrol
Top Speed: 204km/h
0-100km/h: 8.4 seconds
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Body style: SUV
Boot Space: 521 litres