November 13, 2018

Skoda Karoq First Drive Review

Caroline drives the all-new Karoq SUV

Skoda Karoq review ireland
The new Skoda Karoq has arrived in Ireland

The new Skoda Karoq has just arrived in Ireland and goes on sale from €27,715. This new mid-size SUV slots in below the Skoda Kodiaq and is an exciting new model for the Czech brand. Skoda finished as the sixth bestselling brand in Ireland in 2017 with sales driven by the Octavia, Superb and Kodiaq. The Karoq is a brand new model and replaces the popular Yeti but carries the fashionable shape of a more conventional SUV.

Styling

The new Skoda Karoq follows the same sharp new design language of the larger Kodiaq SUV. In many ways it’s a scaled down version of the Kodiaq with a neater frame and less bulk. The Karoq is classy while also being discreet. LED daytime running lights come as standard, while the level 2 trim ‘Style’ comes with full LED headlamps. 17″ alloys and roof rails also come as standard. There are a total of fourteen colours to choose from, ranging from the usual suspects of grey, white and black, to some more vibrant shades of red, green and blue.

Interior

The interior design of the new Karoq is simple and understated, while the material quality looks and feels really good in all the important places. Entry ‘Ambition’ models come with an 8″ touchscreen, while Style models have a really cool 9.2″ screen with navigation. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on all models.

Practicality

The Karoq is a five seat SUV with generous passenger room and plenty of Skoda’s famed ‘Simply Clever’ features including an umbrella under the passenger seat, ice scraper and easy-open cupholders. Headroom is excellent while there is more shoulder and elbow room for passengers when compared to the Yeti that the Karoq replaces. Skoda claims a best in class boot for the Karoq of 521 litres. There is an optional ‘VarioFlex’ seating system, which allows the seats to be adjusted in a number of ways (or removed completely). With VarioFlex seating, the standard luggage capacity increases to 588 litres.

Skoda Karoq review ireland
The interior of the new Skoda Karoq

Engines

The Skoda Karoq range kicks off with a 1.0-litre TSI turbo petrol unit with 115hp, while there is also a 1.5-litre TSI turbo petrol with 150hp. Diesel power is provided via a 1.6TDI with 115hp or a 2.0TDI with 150hp. A six speed manual gearbox comes as standard while there is also the option of a 7-speed DSG automatic gearbox. 4×4 models are available from €36,365. The best for economy is the 1.6-litre TDI 115hp DSG, which consumes a quoted 4.3l/100km with motor tax of €200 per year.

At the launch, I sampled the two petrols (1.0 and 1.5) and the 2.0TDI. The petrols are smooth, quiet and refined, with the 1.0-litre being more than capable for the job. The 2.0TDI is noisier on the move but has lots of torque to turn this into a ‘meatier’ SUV (2.0TDIs comes with 4×4).

On the road

The Skoda Karoq is smooth and agile on the road with light steering making it an easy drive. There is roll in the corners when pushed but it’s all well-contained. The suspension is soft and compliant, while the cabin is well-insulated for a calm and serene drive.

Equipment

There are two trims for the new Karoq: Style and Ambition. Ambition trim has features including 17” ‘Ratikon’ alloy wheels, 8” touch screen ‘Bolero’ infotainment system, Climatronic air-conditioning, cruise control, Skoda Connect with driver assistance features like emergency call and remote access through an app, rear parking sensors, and chrome roof rails and window surrounds.

The Style trim adds 18” ‘Mytikas’ alloy wheels, 9.2” ‘Columbus’ infotainment system with navigation, rear view camera, DAB radio and keyless entry with a start/stop button. Skoda Connect on Style models is enhanced with more features like real time traffic information and RSS news feeds, fuel prices and weather alerts. Google Earth overlays for navigation are also featured.

Skoda Connect is a subscription service and is free for the first year. It will be about €70 per year thereafter to continue the subscription.

Skoda Karoq review ireland
The Skoda Karoq will make affable family transport for five with a quality cabin and a range of excellent engines

Pricing

The Karoq range starts at €28,315 (including delivery charge) for a 1.0-litre TSI in Ambition trim. Style models start from €30,915. Diesels start from €29,765.

Rivals

Skoda list the Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, Nissan Qashqai and Renault Kadjar as the main competition for new Karoq.

Verdict

With growing demand for SUVs of all sizes, the new Karoq enhances Skoda’s range considerably offering a five seat, mid-size SUV option that takes all we love about the Kodiaq, but packaged in a smaller size. The new Skoda Karoq is well-equipped and offers the sort of affable drive and high quality that should help it win over a lot of new fans to the brand.

Caroline Kidd