Another week passes, another crossover is launched. This time it’s the turn of Skoda, a brand that have been somewhat late to the game. Especially when you consider the market first started to gain traction in around 2009, has the waiting game paid off?
We took a Karoq 4×4 through the depths of Lincolnshire to find out.
Our test car was in entry level SE spec fitted with the 2.0 litre TDI diesel engine. Price wise, the range starts at £20,875 but with a diesel lump up front, four wheel drive and some choice options this vehicle would set you back £26,885.
I’m torn between the looks. One minute I think it’s quite butch and rugged, then I look back at it and just see the front of a jacked up Octavia.
Side on, it’s a fairly average crossover, nice enough, inoffensive with a modern twist. Then I catch it three corner ways, which makes the back look like it’s abruptly finished with a vertical cut off. It almost looks bus like from here.
I give up. It’s a grower.
There are some nice features to be had, the rear lights follow the Skoda lineage, and the split design headlights offer something different to the competion.
That Emerald Green Metallic paint isn’t half bad either. It’s understated, yet fresh enough not to cast you out as an old fart.
This bit shouldn’t be a surprise to you, but the Karoq is based on the SEAT Ateca. So in terms of looks they are broadly similar.
Many small SUV’s and crossovers aren’t four wheel drive equipped. It’s all about the looks, with some manufacturers not even offering it as an option.
SEAT offer a ‘4Drive’ Ateca, but Skoda have the upper hand in terms of pricing by slashing £355 off their 4×4 offering.
And whilst it says 4×4…it’s more of an all-wheel drive system. There’s no terrain choices to be had, no low or high gearbox…it’s just ‘On’.
The system uses an electronically controlled multi plate clutch that will engage all-wheel drive when slip is detected.
So I thought I’d go to the beach.
Tip toeing onto a sand strewn car park, the ruts looked rather menacing to the all-wheel drive Skoda. Keeping in second, I let the Karoq amble its way through the worst of it. After stopping to take pictures the moment of truth came, could the Karoq extract itself from the tyre burying levels of sand?
Into reverse, foot guiding the clutch and the wheels started to spin.
A fraction of a second later, the rear kicked into life and I was being pulled free.
Perfect. No fiddling with diff locks, changing settings, nothing.
Challenge one completed it was time to get stuck into some mud. The first choice was a short section of green lane, rather muddy with some fairly deep water sections.
Neither were a problem, but the muddy ploughed field looked more testing.
Turning off the main road, the Karoq was soon in near axle deep sloshy earth. The type tractors normally amble through with ease.
Sliding to the left, the steering takes an absence of leave, easing off the throttle I head for some firmer ground. Albeit at an angle.
Not wanting to get stuck, and make a total prat of myself a u-turn was in order. Second gear again and the Karoq carved its way through the mush with ease.
A right hander, and I was back on the main road in a flurry of mud.
Power wise, the 2.0 litre diesel is easily man enough for the job, 0-62 is a spritely 8.7 seconds. 340 Nm of torque give you plenty of punch to overtake with ease – as you often have to do in Lincolnshire.
Even with 148 horses at your disposal I still managed 39 MPG over a 150 mile jaunt. Skoda state an Urban figure of 47.9. Realistically, you should be able to get at least 45 with more conservative driving.
In terms of handling the Karoq is just as planted as the Ateca. There’s a fraction more lean in the corners, but the increased comfort makes up for that. You can still push on in the Karoq, yet feel as if you’re driving a hatchback.
There’s even a healthy amount of rubber surrounding the 17 inch alloys on this model, meaning road noise is kept to a minimum. Hitting cat’s eyes or potholes results in a dull thud beneath you, with only a fraction of the impact being felt in the cabin.
Steering is also nicely weighted, it may not be as direct as the Ateca but in being so it becomes more refined and far less twitchy.
Inside the Karoq feels suitably premium. A soft touch dashboard and centre console make this crossover a nice place to be. Plastics become scratchier on the doors and lower down, but all the touch points are substantial.
The dash is nicely laid out, in a clean, modern fashion. There’s a row of toggle switches just below the heating controls, but the rest of the cars’ systems are all controlled via the infotainment display.
As with the old Renault Scenic, Skoda seem to have taken the mantle in terms of family friendliness. They call it ‘simply clever’, in reality it’s just a bit of thought. Simple things that will appeal to potential buyers, things other brands simply don’t take into account. These mostly come at an extra cost though.
The ‘Family Pack’ offers a rubbish bin in the driver’s door, double sided boot mat, powered child locks and heat insulated side glass, all for £120. Two tablet holders can be specced for the rear of the front headrests, £50. And you can even add the three individual VarioFlex seats (standard on SE L and Edition models), although they are a bit pricier at £450.
If you want the full fat ‘4×4’ you’re best off opting for the ‘Rough Road Pack’, which includes nearly full underbody dust and dirt protection panels, as well as additional shielding for the wiring loom and brake lines, £180. Oh, and the ‘Drive Mode Selection system with Off-Road’, that gives you a compass, inclinometer and altitude display…along with the other, normal driving modes – £220.
Standard features include the huge storage space underneath the central armrest, called the ‘Jumbo Box’ it has all manner of cut outs and sections for easy stowage. There’s also enough space in the front doors to fit a 1.5 litre bottle, the boot light is a removable torch and there’s even an umbrella hidden underneath the front passenger seat.
Rear seat legroom is healthy, even with a normal sized driver up front, an adult can sit behind without issue. Headroom is also fairly lofty thanks to the high roofline in the Karoq.
At the very back the boot seems almost cavernous. There’s a slight lip to negotiate when loading, and you’ll also find hooks and storage places aplenty.
In total there’s 521 litres of boot space, which increases to 1630 with the seats folded. If you opt for the VarioFlex seats capacity ranges from 479-588.
Although late to the game, the Skoda Karoq is the family friendly crossover, the C SUV with a little more thought behind it.
Even though some of the more child friendly options are extra’s, they’re keenly priced. As is the Karoq itself, the entry level SE model is probably all you’ll need. Spec it with a few choice options and you’ll have a superb family wagon on your hands.
Well done Skoda.