The Škoda brand have been going from strength to strength over the last number of years. You simply must look around you as you travel along the Irish road network to see how many vehicles from the Czech brand there are. Taxi drivers love them, families love them and indeed travelling sales people love them. The reason they are so popular is because of their value for money, spacious interiors and indeed they now look great too.
The Škoda Karoq arrived in the market following in the footsteps of the massively successful big brother, the Kodiaq. Built on a platform utilised across many vehicles within the Volkswagen Group, the Karoq has many similarities to other models such as the Seat Ateca and the Volkswagen Tiguan yet it still can stand alone an quite simply shine.
Essentially, the new Karoq is here to replace the outgoing Škoda Yeti. Whilst the Yeti divided opinions in terms of looks, the Karoq shouldn’t have such problems. Taking its inspiration from the Kodiaq albeit in smaller proportions, it sits proudly with clean, crisp lines. The new now signature Škoda grille positions neatly between the LED daytime running lights while the sleek look gives the new Karoq an extra element of appeal. The “Style” trim adds 18-inch alloy wheels along with an exterior chrome package, parking sensors and reversing camera.
Something which Škoda is now synonymous with is interior space and good build quality. The Karoq does not disappoint with either of these. I have sat in many more expensive SUV’s in recent times and their finish would not hold a candle to that of the Karoq. The “Style” trim level gives you the Columbus Sat-Nav system along with a 9.2-inch colour touch screen, WLAN connectivity, full Bluetooth connectivity and an infotainment system which is extremely user friendly. There are a host of other specifications within the Style trim which include dual zone air conditioning, light and rain assist, keyless entry with push start, interior ambient lighting, tinted rear windows to name but a few. In simple terms, the “Style” spec covers almost every avenue that will satisfy most customers.
Interior space in either the front or the rear is impressive with an abundance of storage space throughout the cabin also. One drive undertaken in the Karoq was over 200 kilometres each way and there was never a feeling of discomfort throughout the journey. The raised seating position allows you to obtain optimum visibility. Boot space sits at an impressive 521 litres which expands up to 1,630 litres with the rear seats folded down.
Whilst I would normally limit my reviews to just one model, thankfully I have had the opportunity to test the most popular powerplants within the Karoq range; 1.0 litre petrol, 1.5 litre petrol and the 2.0 litre diesel models, all in “Style” spec. All the above possess their own driving styles and are designed to suit a broad range of potential customers.
The 1.0 litre petrol model by its nature is better suited to drivers making shorter journeys and not embarking on too many long-distance trips. The 1.0 litre TSI engine with 115bhp is now tried and tested within the Volkswagen group and I for one am a big fan of it. In the new Karoq it never sounds like it is under pressure and indeed is perfectly capable of carrying an SUV of its size. One of the biggest achievements of this engine is that it doesn’t sound like some of the more imbalanced three-cylinder engines on the market. There’s no excessive engine noise and gear ratios are perfectly paired.
The 1.5 petrol engine with 150bhp is the star of the petrol options. Its inclusion is welcomed allowing for customers with longer average commutes to now have the choice of petrol or diesel. The 1.5 engine performs flawlessly with excellent throttle response. Even with the raised SUV stance of the Karoq it can hold the road very well. It also does well in soaking up the lumps and bumps that Irish roads throw at us all daily. Again my 1.5 petrol model was paired with a six-speed manual transmission and given the extra power, I found myself not having to change gear as often at lower speeds. This engine performs brilliantly.
Last up was the 2.0 TDi 4×4 model which was paired with the DSG automatic transmission. Like the 1.5 petrol engine, this too had a power output of 150bhp. The addition of four-wheel drive and the automatic transmission meant that it felt a little heavier on the road but still performed well. The plus side of the 4×4 meant that you can venture further off the beaten track and the Karoq feels just as comfortable as it does on the road.
The Škoda Karoq comes to a massively competitive segment where every brand wants their cut. With smart styling, a spacious interior and excellent build quality, the Karoq does so much to stand out from the crowd. Personally, my pick of the bunch would be the 1.5 litre petrol model in Style trim as being one of the best all-rounders in the line-up.
Pricing on the Karoq starts from €27,715 for the base model up to €37,765 depending on trim level, engine and transmission options.
For more on the Škoda range visit www.skoda.ie