Skoda Karoq is a midsize SUV from the Czech Republic that shares much of its underpinnings with the Volkswagen Tiguan. Its biggest attraction to many potential buyers is that it, like other Skoda models, sells for significantly less than approximately equivalent VWs.
The Karoq we tested was the 110TSI, with a recommended retail price of $29,990, compared to slightly higher price of the Tiguan 110TSI. This comparison isn’t apples-with-apples as there are differences in equipment, but it does give you something to work on depending on your preferences.
Some of the savings in buying a Skoda may be eaten up at resale or trade-in time as, for some odd reason, Skoda isn’t as well regarded in Australia as in other countries. Without getting overly hypothetical, there’s the outside chance that you might buy a cheapish Karoq now, and resell it a few years down the track, after the Aussie public finally realises just how good Skodas are.
Karoq replaced the Skoda Yeti, but is far more conservative in its shape. Karoq has slightly squared off lines that are cleverly softened off at the edges. This gives it not only what is likely to be a timeless look, but also makes for a very spacious interior.
Inside, it doesn’t really break any new ground in the dashboard area, but it’s neat and tidy and favours function over fashion.
Skoda Karoq arrived with a 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine, producing 110kW and 250Nm with the choice of a six-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed DSG driving the front wheels.
An all-wheel-drive and possibly other engines are likely to be introduced before the end of 2019.
The KAROQ comes standard with an 8-inch screen high-resolution Bolero infotainment system, which has SmartLink smartphone connectivity, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth with voice control, audio and streaming. There are USB, Aux connections and an SD card slot.
Standard safety systems include electronic stability control, city emergency brake, adaptive cruise control, the multi-collision braking, manoeuvre braking assist for use in carparks, and driver fatigue detection.
Optional safety items in a Travel Pack ($1700) are lane assist and blind spot detection.
We reckon you could even call the Skoda umbrella under the front passenger seat a safety item.
Bigger inside than you would expect, the Karoq follows the long time Skoda tradition of practicality. A major feature is the ingenious VarioFlex seating system. You can remove any of the rear three individual seats, thus giving you a five-, four-, three- or two-seater.
With the rear seats set all the way back there’s excellent legroom for adults. Width makes it more useful for two adults and a child, though three adults won’t find too much hip or shoulder rubbing.
With all the rear seats fitted and fully pushed back, the Karoq’s luggage compartment has a volume of 479 litres. Move the seats forward and it increases to 588 litres. Folding them flat gives you 1605 litres. With them all removed there’s 1810 litres.
It comes as no surprise that the Czech built Karoq has the solid feel of big brother Volkswagen on the road. It rides smoothly on motorways and is almost silent on normal surfaces. Rough roads do cause it to bounce a bit more than we anticipated – perhaps it needs some suspension testing by Aussie engineers on our roads.
Handling is very European in that there’s good steering feel and the way it tackles bends gives it an almost sporty nature. Indeed, it will hold onto the road at far higher speeds than those likely to be tolerated by family members.
Engine performance from the seemingly small 1.5-litre four is better than you would anticipate. There’s some turbo lag off the line, but with that over there’s plenty of willing grunt. Overtaking is simple and the DSG auto on our test Karoq was almost invariably in the correct gear.
The old bugbear of VW double-clutch gearboxes is still there, that is jerkiness at very low parking speeds. Once that’s gone the Karoq’s unit is smooth as silk.
Fuel consumption during our test period was generally in the five to seven litres per hundred kilometres range on the motorways and easy country running. It rose to as still very acceptable eight to ten litres per hundred around town.
Part of the low fuel consumption is due to the engine running as a two-cylinder unit under very gentle running.
Skoda Karoq is a practical, spacious SUV with just a touch of sportiness in its suspension. It feels solid on the road and gives the impression it will last for many years with correct servicing and proper driving.
AT A GLANCE
Skoda Karoq 1.5-litre turbo-petrol five-door wagon: $29,990 (automatic)
Note: This price does not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Skoda dealer for drive-away prices.
SPECIFICATIONS (Skoda Karoq 1.5-litre turbo-petrol five-door wagon)
Capacity: 1.498 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 110 kW @ 5000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 250 Nm @ 1500 rpm
Fuel Type: Standard unleaded
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 5.8 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 133 g/km
DRIVELINE: Seven-speed direct shift automatic
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4382 mm
Wheelbase: 2638 mm
Width: 1841 mm
Height: 1603 mm
Turning Circle: Not supplied
Kerb Mass: 1353 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 50 litres
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid disc
Five years / unlimited kilometres