Skoda Karoq Review
Stylish, well-equipped, and clever, the Skoda Karoq is another appealing car in the ever-expanding mid-size SUV market.
Strengths & weaknesses
- Great levels of equipment
- Spacious and flexible throughout
- Unexciting to drive
- Loud under hard acceleration
- Maybe more money than you’d want to pay for a Skoda
If you’re not sure what a medium-ish crossover is, it’s basically a car that combines the best bits of a conventional family hatchback and the off-road-ruggedness of a four-wheel drive without any of the drawbacks. This makes it ideal for anyone who likes the idea of a chunky-looking offroader that is as easy to drive as a smaller car, with the fuel economy to match, but still gives you that coveted higher driving position.
So, onto the Karoq. We're confident in saying that it's the best around at the moment. Where most crossovers will tick the comfort, practicality and drivability boxes, the Karoq does it much more emphatically.
For starters, it replaced the Skoda Yeti, which itself was a well loved car among its owners - incidentally, it recently came in second place in the Auto Express Driver Power survey. So the Karoq has big boots to fill, and it does that with aplomb.
Those familiar with Skoda’s current line up will see that the shape of the Karoq falls much in line with its bigger brother, the Kodiaq, and if you head to a showroom there's not much other than size to tell them apart.
The Skoda Karoq is not avant-garde in terms of its looks, but with big wheels and the right colour, it looks right at home among the more expensive cars in this segment. It has some sharp creases towards the rear, but from its side profile you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a Seat Ateca, a car which it shares many mechanical bits with.
Let’s get inside though, where it really shines.
In the rear there’s room for adults, even if the driver is six-feet tall and the person behind them is a similar height. Other features include a 12V socket, so the kids can charge their various electricals, picnic tables and cup holders which can be used in place of a vacant and folded centre seat.
Speaking of seats, our test car has Varioflex seating. These come with the mid (SE L) and top spec (Edition) as standard, and can be specified on the SE cars too. With this, all three seats are able to be individually positioned, so that every passenger can find their own comfort.
Further back, the boot includes a number of helpful touches including netting to tie things down, hooks to, well hook things on, and another 12 volt socket. Those Varioflex seats mean that the seats can be folded down, folded up, or taken out entirely to allow for varying amounts of luggage space if required. It's a class leading level of flexibility and, with the seats out, the boot dimensions are more akin to that of a small van than a mid-sized family car.
The cabin is spacious and functional. Overall quality is good and definitely gives off an upmarket feel. The 9.1-inch touchscreen is responsive and easy to use, and can link with Android and Apple smartphones.
Another nice touch is the addition of a little rubbish bin inside of the door bin of the drivers’ side. Just enough storage for a few apple cores or chicken wings or other greasy goodies you don’t want actually touching the interior.
Point your eyes slightly to the left of that door bin, and on high trim models, you’ll find the engine start button, which also adds to that feeling that you're sat inside a much more expensive car.
Once you are underway, the car is incredibly easy to drive. The manual, six-speed gearbox has a light clutch that won’t cause any headaches. Our test car had the ultra-smooth DSG automatic gearbox fitted, which made it even easier to manage, and even more comfortable to sit in. The automatic can be ever so slightly hesitant while accelerating away quickly though, so be aware if you're after a sharp get away.
Ride quality is also spot on. It’s smoother than the similar Seat Ateca and at motorway speeds, it is able to waft with the best of them in this sector - even at lower speeds - although large potholes and the likes often found on British roads are not such a subtle affair. Hit one in anything other than the four-wheel drive model and it can be harsher for occupants than you’d like, as it's the only version of the Karoq fitted with fully independent rear suspension, but it's not something you'll notice during standard day to day driving.
If you want that four-wheel drive system, which makes the car grip and drive better on muddy and generally bad surfaces, you’ll have to stump up for the 2.0 litre diesel. Generally, the 1.0-litre petrol is best for people who do mostly town journeys. The 1.5-litre petrol is more expensive and a bit less economical than the 1.0-litre, but it's much faster and better at longer journeys. The engine noise is very harsh in the cabin when you encroach on 6,000rpm for both of these. But apart from that, both of these are good choices. The 1.6-litre diesel is the most economical, and the 2.0-litre diesel is fast and frugal.
The Karoq is every bit the five-seater Kodiaq that Skoda wants it to be, and with the right specification, is a class-leading crossover. Put simply, it’s understated, comfortable and clever.
|Warranty||Three years/60,000 miles|
|Boot size||588 litres (rear seats flat)|
|Tax||£TBC in the first year, £140 thereafter|
Best Skoda Karoq for...
Best for Economy – Skoda Karoq 1.0TSI
It’s the cheapest to buy, plus, thanks to cylinder deactivation, where part of the engine shuts down if it’s not required, it can do a claimed 52.3 mpg, although real world testing puts it at more like 43.1mpg. SE L models come with a good standard of equipment.
Best for Families – Skoda Karoq 2.0TDI Edition
Large and punchy diesel engine is enough to take a family of five and their luggage without being strained. Edition spec has panoramic sunroof to keep the kids entertained, plus clever foot operated boot for when your hands are full.
Best for Performance – Skoda Karoq 1.5TSI
The peppy 1.5-litre engine is the sportiest-feeling Karoq available. Its 0-62mph time of 8.1 seconds is certainly respectable in its class, although not stunning. Get the DSG automatic gearbox, put it into sport, and use the paddles on the steering column to change gear like Lewis Hamilton.
One to Avoid – Skoda Karoq 1.6 TDI SE
The lowest powered-diesel engine teamed with the least standard spec trim level does make this a bit dreary. The diesel is a bit weedy. Team this with a tediously-dull silver and it does make the car dishwater dreary.
- 3 October 2017: Skoda Karoqs go on sale in UK
- 2018: Emergency Call button becomes standard equipment.
Understanding Skoda Karoq names
Engine 1.5 TSI
The engine’s size is one point five in litres (here it’s 1.5) and the letters indicate that it’s petrol powered. Diesel engined Karoqs will say TDI here.
Buyers have the choice of a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic transmission. DSG denotes that it is an automatic.
Trim Level Edition
The trim level indicates the standard and quantity of equipment. For the Karoq, SE is he most basic, SE L is the mid range, and Edition is the most luxurious.
Skoda Karoq Engines
There are four engines for the Karoq - two diesels and two petrols. The first petrol is a 1.0-litre three-cylinder affair called the 1.0 TSI. It produces 113bhp and is about enough for town driving. It gets to 62mph in 10.3 seconds, which is about where everything else is for the sector. However, it can feel strained at motorway speeds when it’s full of people and luggage. Real world fuel economy is around 43.1 mpg, which is pretty good. We’d recommend this for people who infrequently have to do much more else than town driving.
The bigger and faster 1.5 TSI is our favourite of the choices, and the one that we’ve spent the most time in. 62 mph comes up in 8.1 seconds, meaning it’s more than adequate at joining a motorway at an appropriate 60mph. It’s also pretty good at getting past small moving traffic on country lanes. It has a much larger power band - meaning it’s quicker at fewer revs than the smaller engined car. Skoda says that you should expect economy of around 51.4mpg, although we found it to be more like 40mpg.
The diesel options should be much more frugal. The 1.6 TDI returns up to 49.23mpg in terms of real world figures. This makes do with 113bhp, similar to the smaller of the petrol engines. However, because of its diesel nature, it feels eager from fewer revs and it doesn’t feel quite as lethargic. The downside is that it is louder than the petrol cars.
The 2.0 TDI engine has 148bhp and is punchy at overtaking in short distances. This is the preferred choice if you’ll be hauling things too. MPG is still better than the petrols, but becuase of its four-wheel-drive system, it’ll bring MPG down to 43.2. Less than the smaller engine, but still respectable for an SUV of this type.
Skoda Karoq Trims
Skoda is known for its generous equipment levels from standard, and the Karoq is no different. It comes in three flavours, SE is the cheapest, SE L is the mid-specification, and the highest-spec on offer is the Edition.
Another thing that Skoda is known for is the amount of connectivity in their cars. Even in SE spec you get Smartlink to connect your phone with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto - meaning you can use your phone’s sat-nav. Cruise Control, DAB radio, autonomous emergency braking and rear parking sensors are also included with this.
17-inch alloy wheels, electrically adjustable, folding and heated door mirrors with autodimming, front fog lights, halogen headlights, privacy glass, black roof rails, also come with this spec level.
SE L models come with an inbuilt Skoda sat-nav, and eight-inch touchscreen and integrated wi-fi. The touchscreen is intuitive and easy to use - the sat nav less so. It’s a good system, just not as polished or as easy to understand as Google Maps. This also brings in keyless entry - meaning the car can sense the key is near it and will let you in. It also has keyless ignition - meaning you don’t need to put a key in an ignition to start it. There’s just a button you need to press. These are both aimed at making your life easier - hopefully it’ll get rid of the dreaded hunt for keys in bags.
Top spec Karoq Edition models come with an upgraded sat-nav, voice and gesture control, and wireless phone charging. They also come with a panoramic sunroof - meaning there’s a large piece of glass above you. Great for letting light in and making the inside seem even bigger.
One useful feature that can be specced is the electrically operated tailgate. There’s a ‘virtual pedal’ underneath the rear bumper. You activate this with your foot and it opens the tailgate if your hands are full. There’s also a button on the inside of the tailgate that will close it for you.
Skoda Karoq Reliability and warranty
The Karoq is too new to be included in the Auto Express Driver Power survey, however, Skoda’s other cars have performed amicably in the owner satisfaction survey.
Last year, the Skoda Superb and the Skoda Yeti came first and second respectively in the survey. And Skoda finished second overall the manufacturers’ charts, only behind luxury car maker Lexus.
The Karoq comes with a three-year/60,000 mile warranty as standard. This might seem like a lot, but rivals from Hyundai offer a seven year warranty, and Kia offers a five year warranty. It’s also important to remember that if you’re thinking of buying the car outright, that it has lots and lots of tech in it. Great now, but ultimately more to go wrong when the warranty runs out. Skoda does sell additional warranties however.
Used Skoda Karoq
As the Karoq has been available for less than a year, there aren’t a huge number of cars on the market.
But, this does mean that there some pre-registered, and therefore virtually nearly new bargains. Expect big discounts on the most expensive cars - e.g. Executive models with the 1.5TSI petrol or the 2.0TDI diesel. We’ve seen some 2.0TDI diesels, with four-wheel drive with around £3,500 off the list price.