The compact crossover template is now well established, and unlike its Yeti predecessor, the Skoda Karoq slots neatly into it. Rather than being a quirky, boxy crossover, it’s a slickly-styled SUV along the same lines (and based on the same platform) as the Seat Ateca and Volkswagen Tiguan.
It sits below the Kodiaq in Skoda’s range, and takes on board all of the “Simply Clever” touches the brand has become known for. But it’s nothing like as recognisable or unique as the car it replaces. So can the Karoq make up for its personality deficit in other areas?
Most buyers will plump for a diesel engine – either the entry-level 1.6-litre or the 2.0-litre as fitted to our test car. The 1.6-litre offers 113bhp, while the 2.0 has a useful 148bhp. Our car went from 0-60mph in 8.2 seconds, with a top speed of 121mph.
But the petrol models shouldn’t be discounted either. Though they do without the ample torque of the diesels, they’re every bit as fast, almost as economical, usefully cheaper and much lighter. You can opt for either a 113bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder or a 148bhp 1.5, both turbocharged.
Buyers can choose between a six-speed manual gearbox or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. We’d plump for a manual, as the automatic feels hesitant when setting off – and, like the diesel engines, it adds weight.
No Karoq is particularly fast but all engines can cope with a full compliment of people and their luggage, while the higher-end units are really well-suited to overtaking and long motorway cruises. Don’t hold out hope for a hot vRS version just yet.
Ride & Handling
It certainly doesn’t have the sporty intentions of its sister car, the Seat Ateca, but it hits back with a softer and more comfortable ride.
Keep things relaxed and you’ll have no issue with the way the Karoq steers and handles. It’s safe and secure, especially if you opt for four-wheel drive, and soaks up bumps very well.
The steering can be altered with the various driving modes, though we’d leave it in normal – sport mode simply makes it artificially heavy. It’s direct and accurate, but a bit numb.
Get onto the motorway and it’s quiet, refined, and cossetting. However, it’s a bit roly-poly on a twisting back road, and you certainly won’t be seeking out thrilling roads as you would in more dynamic cars.
Interior & Equipment
The interior is a real high point for the Karoq. It’s very roomy, accommodating five adults and their luggage without issue, but it’s also a high-quality product. Though Skoda is the VW Group’s budget brand, it doesn’t feel like it from the inside.
The interior is littered with clever touches, some of which are optional – such as the litter bin in the door pocket, or the tablet holders on the backs of the front seats. Visibility is good, and the infotainment system is lifted straight from the rest of the Volkswagen range – so it’s slick and easy to use.
It’s worth speccing the VarioFlex seating, which allows the rear bench to be configured in a multitude of ways. The individual seats can slide and recline, while if you need extra space they can even be removed altogether.
The Karoq starts from just under £21,000, which is reasonable compared to some of its rivals. Even range topping Edition trim barely crests £30,000. Our preferred model – a 1.5-litre petrol in SE L trim – comes in at just over £26,000.
Opting for the upgraded infotainment system on lower models is a pricey addition – over £2,000 – but other optional extras are reasonably priced.
At least the Karoq should be cheap to run, with competitive servicing packages and efficient engines. Road tax is £140 a year. Insurance groups range from Group 9, for the entry-level 1.0-litre petrol in SE trim, to Group 16 for the 2.0-litre diesel in Edition spec.
The Karoq is an accomplished crossover that will slot effortlessly into family life. It’s practical, comfortable, and packed with clever touches inside and out.
However it suffers from sibling rivalry, as its brother, the Seat Ateca, is just as good in these regards – but is more dynamic and enjoyable to drive.