It may come with quirky spelling and two-wheel drive but Charlie Flindt finds Skoda’s latest SUV quite appealing – if, indeed, it is an SUV
Charlie Flindt looks past the silly spelling and two-wheel drive, and finds he quite likes the new SUV on the block. But is the Skoda Karoq really an SUV?
Part of the Karoq’s appeal is its similarity to the Skoda Kodiaq. Read our review of the Skoda Kodiaq, which even managed to win over partying teenagers.
The list of reasons why I was definitely not going to like the Skoda Karoq was short but comprehensive. First, it’s a victim of Skoda’s silly spelling regime. Second, my test car was only two-wheel drive and therefore not a proper SUV at all. No more justification needed.
However, once the Karoq arrived in the yard, it began to win hearts. It’s a sort of watered-down version of the Kodiaq (see spelling niggle above) and, if anything, is even easier on the eye. It’s not at all unlike the original BMW X3, which I loved but no-one else seemed to.
But it didn’t win points by being spectacularly good at anything. It was just really good at being capable. The seating position was raised but not by too much, which meant that climbing in and out was
a doddle. The view out is excellent and not just because of that high seat – the pillars are slim. Why some manufacturers can pass safety tests with slim pillars while others need metalwork the size of telegraph poles baffles me.
The inside is unexcitingly pleasant. There’s the usual ruthlessly efficient Skoda dashboard, a proper key start and plenty of room. Even the infotainment seems a bit BBC2 but that’s no bad thing. Everything falls nicely to place and is easy to read, which is how it should be. The electric parking brake, like all electric parking brakes, failed to persuade me why we should all have electric parking brakes.
The petrol engine seemed slightly weedier that the on-paper figures suggested, and sixth gear was definitely one to slot into when no further acceleration was needed – more like an old fashioned overdrive. Even in the other gears, a fairly heavy right foot was needed to get anything going satisfactorily. Fuel consumption suffered accordingly and, at the end of our week, the average MPG was a very long way from the theoretical combined figure. But it’s what we must get used to, as diesel is loudly demonised by the same people who only a couple of decades ago were hailing it at the saviour of the planet.
The Karoq had to endure a very strict examination by the Ladies Who Walk and their tumult of dogs. The boot was subjected to a volley of flatcoats and black labs that, it has to be said, didn’t spend a lot of time in it; room is fairly tight and the high lip is off-putting to packs that are used to the flat floors of bigger, “proper” SUVs.
But that’s the secret to enjoying the Karoq. It’s somehow more honest in two-wheel drive. It’s not actually trying to be an SUV. True, the brochures are full of achingly PC families romping through forests but it’s more like a really big Golf (still the benchmark for every beast that sets tyre on Tarmac), with extra room and a great view out. And that’s nearly a big enough compliment to make up for the annoying spelling. Nearly, but not kwite.
SKODA KAROQ 1.5 TSI
♦ Engine: 1,498cc 4-cyl petrol
♦ Power: 150PS
♦ Max speed: 127mph
♦ Performance, 0 to 62: 8.4 seconds
♦ Combined fuel economy: 52.3mpg
♦ Insurance group: 15E
♦ Price: £22,230