The Sportline version of Skoda's Karoq has arrived
Pros: Comfortable cabin, touch screen infotainment, sportier styling
Cons: Conservative styling, rivals more fun to drive, sportline premium pricing
The latest addition to Skoda ’s growing SUV stable comes in the new Karoq, which replaces the Skoda Yetiand 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. We recently tested the new range-topping Sportline model on Irish roads, which features styling upgrades inside and out for a sportier finish.
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 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 Sportline test car is equipped with 18-inch Mytikas alloys wheels, sports bumpers, black roof rails, adaptive LED headlights, rear privacy glass and various Sportline badges. This Velvet Red paintscheme certainly draws attention out on the road too.
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. Once again, the Sportline model gains plenty of nicties including front sports seats finished in upgraded upholestery, LED interior lighting, a sports steering wheel and dark headling throughout.
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 2.0-litre TDI diesel Karoq with a six-speed manual gearbox, and it’s a capable unit with strong low down power delivery. We have also driven the 1.5-litre TSI petrol Karoq previously, and while it's a livlier unit with superior performance credentials, the TDI unit offers lower running costs. We achieved circa 6l/100km in fuel economy during our time with the 2.0-litre TDI Karoq , and annual motor tax is rated at €270.
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.
Prices for the range-topping Sportline model as tested here, start from €34,100. It leaves little to be desired with 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, Skoda's slick touch screen infotainment system, a parking camera, sports seats and steering wheel and lots more as standard. Our test car included Skoda's Virtual Cockpit driver's display which is a €594 optional extra.
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 Sportline 2.0TDI 150BHP
Prices from: €26,950
Price as tested: €35,400
Annual Road Tax: €270
Engine: 1968cc four-cylinder turbocharged diesel
Top Speed: 204km/h
0-100km/h: 9.3 seconds
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Body style: SUV
Boot Space: 521 litres