It is Czech-mate for Skoda’s newest SUV, the Karoq.
Considered a mid-size SUV, Karoq is the “spiritual successor” to the Yeti. The latter is rarely seen in the wild.
Karoq comes from Skoda’s Czech factories to OZ shores with the first batch being “fully loaded”, at a price.
The range has been kept simple: one engine, two transmissions, and 3 option packs with the price starting at $29,990 (manual), $32,990 (7 speed DSG). The fully loaded launch pack ($8,900) combines all three option packs with 3 years servicing.
Skoda has been part of the VW group since the early nineties, and much of the technology will be familiar to anyone who has been inside and Audi, Volkswagen, or Seat in the last few years.
The crisp clean metalwork eschews gratuitous swoops, gouges, and cuts that have become commonplace. Although pure Skoda, the cheery Karoq face has a distinctly VW-family flavour to it. It features the Skoda family grille, slim halogen headlights, and LED DTRLs / indicators topped by Skoda’s “winged-arrow” badge.
A side profile vaguely reminiscent of VW’s Tiguan has a pleasingly chunky look finished off by a large rear LED light array. Karoq’s chunky look is accentuated by sharp angles and lines directing the eye from resting spot to resting spot where interesting plays of light can be found.
A large rear tail gate is opened manually, but a kick-to-open/close function can be had as part of an option pack.
Standard 17” wheels are upgraded to 18” as part of an option pack, and 19” for an additional $700.
At first glance, the Teutonic interior feels slightly bereft. This quickly changes as the features and fittings reveal themselves, even in a model sans options.
Entry via smart key (the door senses the key in your pocket and unlocks when you touch the handle) and push button start leaves the key secreted in your pocket.
Once started, the high resolution 8” Bolero infotainment system sparks up where your smart phone mirroring can be used. Apple CarPlay/Android Auto are standard and allow the user to use the 8” screen just as they would their phone.
Fully handsfree operation of some features via “Siri” makes full use of the system.
Of course, the hidden brolly is present, but there are many more thoughtful inclusions. The rear seats, a hangover from Yeti, are a thing to behold. Each of the 3 seats can be moved, manipulated, or taken out as the user fancies. They recline, and the outer seats can be moved inward 80mm with the middle seat removed. It is verging on genius.
It would be churlish of me not to mention the lights in the cargo hold too. In normal mode, it turns on with you open the tailgate, but in a flourish of Iron-Curtain brilliance, can be taken out to be used as a torch. It is magnetic too so can be stuck to the under side of the open tailgate, or any other part of a metallic object. Don’t lose it though!
There are cup holders galore and bottle spaces in the front doors. The cargo hold continues the genius theme engendered by the nifty rear seats.
There are 4 hooks on a slider to retain your shopping bags, and a series of nets to stop oranges from rolling around the boot. The rear carpet is reversable with one side being rubber, but the best feature by far is probably the cheapest.
In a “why doesn’t everyone do this” moment, I discovered a couple of pieces of plastic that can be folded to a right angle and “Velcro’d” to the carpet. They can be adjusted to any size and any angle. Imagine a cardboard box, kept in the boot for shopping, that never ever slips and slides because it is held in place by Velcro.
I see a business opportunity. Every car in the world should have these neat little plakky accessories.
Interior space compared to competitors such as: Mazda CX5, Kia Sportage, and Hyundai Tucson, is bigger by almost all measures. This is despite being slightly smaller outside compared to the opposition.
The “simple and clever” moniker is most apropos.
LAUNCH PACK (limited volume only)
Drive and Engine
The new engine is as smooth as the 1.4 power plant VW is famous for. Likewise, the smooth and fast 7 speed DSG. The group has sorted out the DSG problems encountered with the wet-clutch DSG, but this dry-clutch DSG has had no such issues.
Steering is a delight. It is light with calibration which simulates just the right amount of road feel. Of course electric power steering allows for (optional) automated parking.
There is little or no vibration from the engine, or through the suspension. Sound deadening makes the cabin reasonably quiet except for the coarsest of chip-bitumen roads. Both of these are typical of the group as a whole.
Although torque steer is minimal, the front wheels scamper to get grip in the wet. Never fear, the traction control sorts out your foibles with the same German efficiency that built the Autobahns.
This is not a Bahn stormer as such, but is as happy on the highway as it is around town.
Not So Good Bits
Skoda flies under the radar in Australia, and that’s a shame. Skodas perform as promised with a tendency to over-deliver, and Karoq is no different.
Weighting only 1,368kg, Karoq can tow up to 1,500 braked kilos, and has a towball downward limit of 75kg.
Most people won’t be towing anything though. This is the kind of activity vehicle a thrifty bushwalker or surfer would buy.
It is nippy enough to keep up with city traffic (0-100 8.4 seconds) yet is easy on the pocket at the bowser. The 50L tank empties at the rate of 5.7L/100k. You need to use 95ron unleaded petrol though, which is a bit of a shame.
Just when you think just about you’ve seen all the thoughtful touches, you find the air-conditioned glove box has spots for coins, cards, a pencil, and an SDcard.
Skoda says they sell all the cars they can get hold of but supply has been a problem. If only all car makers had that same worry.
Facts and Figures