WE should no longer be surprised by the quality of cars coming out of the Skoda stable.

The Czech company – motto “full of surprises” – is now consistently producing cars offering great looks and value and that are a joy to drive.

One of the latest to leave the production line is the Karoq, a compact SUV that brings with it bold looks, some new ideas and advanced powertrains.

Not to be confused with the larger Kodiaq, the Karoq too is aimed fairly and squarely at families. To this end, there’s plenty of legroom and a Varioflex seating system that offers three separate rear seats that can be individually adjusted or completely removed to create a maximum load volume of 1,810 litres. Now that’s clever.

Beautifully proportioned, the Karoq features new LED headlights with an adaptive front light system on SE L and Edition models, along with a wide radiator grille that incorporates the front assist radar system.

If there was one aspect of the Karoq that did surprise me, it was the effectiveness of the three-cylinder 1.0-litre 115PS petrol engine in my test car. On paper, you might think it ill-matched, but the reality is that the two are glove-fit perfect.

There are in fact two petrol units, the alternative being a 1.5 TSI unit that is the most advanced petrol engine ever offered by Skoda. I was left thinking that the lower power unit was absolutely fine for regular people-carrying duties.

There’s a couple of diesel units too, with similar power outputs.

All four are available with seven-speed DSG transmission as an option, while the most powerful diesel model – the 2.0 TDI 150PS is equipped with four-wheel drive as standard.

The most economical engine is the 1.6 TDI 115PS, which returns up to 64mpg on the combined cycle, while my test petrol-powered car returned an average 53mpg. The choice is whether you want to pay more to get the better fuel economy and whether you prefer diesel to petrol. Performance will not be an issue here, but the four-wheel drive system may tip the balance for some.

Nowadays, customers are swayed as much by infotainment systems as they are by engine choice, and here the Karoq scores highly again. All models are equipped with Smartlink+ and a touchscreen display system as standard, with SE L and Edition offering units with satellite navigation. Range-topping Edition models are fitted with a 9.2-inch touchscreen display. All models can be specified with Skoda Connect - a suite of advanced features that integrate mobile online services, navigation, information and entertainment.

The Karoq is available in three trim levels: SE, SE L and Edition. Standard features include alloy wheels, privacy glass, LED rear lights, dual-zone climate control, front assist, pedestrian monitor and driver fatigue sensor.

Although different in size, the Karoq shares its robust proportions with its seven-seater sibling, the Kodiaq. At 4,382mm long, 1,841mm wide and 1,603 mm high, it is longer, wider and lower than the more boxy Yeti.

Practicality, comfort and connectivity are the three pillars on which the Karoq’s interior have been designed and engineered. The dashboard features a split-level design with a central rail that accentuates the width of the car.

The Karoq’s chassis is tuned to give a smooth ride at all times, but you can also choose to adjust the steering characteristics through a drive mode function that is is fitted as standard on SE L and Edition models. This system allows drivers to change steering characteristics, operation of the DSG transmission, and the settings of other systems in the Normal, Eco, Sport and Individual modes. The off-road mode for all-wheel-drive vehicles further improves the driving characteristics when venturing off surfaced roads. To improve traction in off-road mode, the traction control system permits a greater slip and the electronic differential lock reacts more sharply and quickly. Where necessary, hill-hold control and hill-descent control are also activated.

For buyers looking to take their Karoq over particularly challenging terrain, Skoda has also developed an optional rough-road package. This protects against mechanical damage and prevents dirt from getting into the engine bay or wiring harnesses. The package consists of: an engine skid plate, cable protection, brake line protection, fuel line protection and additional protective plastic covers.

All trim levels get front assist (radar scanning of the space in front of the car) and automatic braking and pedestrian monitor.

SE L models add a host of additional features, including satellite navigation with eight-inch touchscreen display, Smartlink+, keyless entry and start/stop, full LED headlights with adaptive front light system, heated front seats, and Alcantara upholstery. Customers opting for the SE L also benefit from a colour multifunction trip computer, rear view camera and front and rear parking sensors as standard.

The range-topping Edition trim comes with a panoramic sunroof, metallic paint and leather upholstery as standard. Columbus satellite navigation with 9.2-inch touchscreen, electrically operated boot and LED ambient lighting are also included in the standard specification, along with a host of safety and driver assistance systems. These include lane assist, blind spot protection with rear traffic alert and traffic sign recognition.

There’s also a SE Technology trim grade, based on the SE trim, that features satellite navigation with eight-inch touchscreen display, Smartlink+ , cruise control and front and rear parking sensors.

But that’s not the end of the Karoq story.

Skoda will be presenting a sportier version called the Sportline at the Paris Motor Show in October. It will feature a more powerful 190PS petrol engine.

At the same show, the Karoq Scout will also be unveiled. This more rugged variant will come with four-wheel drive as standard with an off-road look. It will be offered with a choice of a petrol engine or two diesel units.


Skoda Karoq SE

Price: £21,255

Engine: 1.0-litre TSI petrol, producing 115PS

Transmission: Six-speed manual driving front wheels

Performance: 0 to 62mph in 10.6 seconds; top speed 116mph

Economy: 53.3mpg combined

CO2 emissions: 119g/km


Performance: ****

Economy: ****

Ride/Handling: ****

Space/Practicality: ****

Equipment: ****

Security/Safety: *****

Value For Money: ****