Caroline drives the new Skoda Karoq.
Following the successful launch of the new Skoda Kodiaq in 2017, you would think Skoda had been making SUVs for years. Now they’re back with the new Skoda Karoq, slotting in below the Kodiaq, but bringing a reassuring blend of ‘Skodaness’ to the ever popular compact SUV segment.
The new, five seat, Skoda Karoq is entering a competitive segment where the Nissan Qashqai and Hyundai Tuscon currently occupy a lot of ground. Still Skoda is now a well-established car brand in Ireland, sitting just outside the country’s top five bestselling brands. Cars like the Octavia and Superb record strong sales here, but the Karoq is where it’s at for buyers currently going gaga for a lofty driving position and SUV stance.
The new Skoda Karoq range kicks off at €27,715 in Ireland. There is a great choice of engines across the range and two well-stocked trim levels – Ambition and Style.
How big is the new Skoda Karoq?
In styling terms, the Karoq looks like a scaled down version of the Kodiaq. It’s plain but inoffensive at the same time, and 17″ alloys and roof rails come as standard. Being a Skoda, the brand has done well to make good use of the space inside with large footwells, decent headroom and an excellent 521 litre boot. There are also plenty of Skoda’s famed ‘Simply Clever’ features on board including an umbrella under the passenger seat, ice scraper in the fuel cap door and cupholders that facilitate the easy opening of bottles due to a grippy surface.
The cabin has a pleasing, simple layout built around a touchscreen and the perceived quality in the places you touch and see regularly – like the steering wheel and door panels – is good. Entry level 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.
Standard equipment includes 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.
What engines are available for the new Skoda Karoq?
About those engines. The Karoq range kicks off with the Volkswagen Group’s now infamous new 1.0-litre TSI turbo petrol with 115hp. There’s also a larger 1.5-litre TSI turbo petrol with 150bhp. Diesels come in the shape of 1.6 and 2.0 diesels. 4×4 is available on some models, as is the DSG automatic gearbox.
My test car was a Skoda Karoq 1.5-litre TSI in Style trim with a 6-speed manual gearbox, and is available from €32,315. It’s a powerful petrol option for the Karoq with smoothness, flexibility and excellent refinement. On the road, the Karoq is a smooth and effortless drive with light controls. It’s by no means sporty but it’s agile and comfortable.
It’s fair to say Skoda may be new to the game of SUVs, but the brand already has momentum and notoriety in this segment. 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 Skoda Karoq is an unassuming blend of practicality, competitive pricing, and the sort of affable driving character that makes it a great accessory to daily life. The competition is stiff but the Karoq has a range of great engines borrowed from the Volkswagen Group. That should make it a strong fixture on Irish driveways.
Model tested: Skoda Karoq 1.5-litre TSI Style
Price: €32,315 (Available from €27,715)
Engine: 1.5-litre turbo petrol
0-100km/h: 8.4 seconds
Top speed: 204km/h
Claimed Economy: 5.4/100km
CO2 emissions: 123g/km
Motor tax: €270 per year