SIMPLY clever is the motto by which Skoda define their brand, and the Karoq 110 TSI fulfils that philosophy perfectly. As an alternative to the current establishment, it makes a strong case as a good choice for those who like to be a little bit different.
The medium SUV market is one of the most hotly contested in Australia, with pretty much all the major brands having a model fighting for sales in this segment. The titans of this segment are cars like the Mazda CX-5, Nissan X-Trail and Toyota Rav4.
It could be argued that these are a bit vanilla and without personality. Enter the Skoda Karoq. While it’s not the typical medium SUV when it comes to size, it’s price point and features place it right in the heart of the competition.
Often closely related to its sibling Volkswagen, Skoda offers similar style models with sharper prices and more features, with pleasantly surprising levels of equipment and some unique touches (take the umbrellas in the doors of the Skoda Kodiaq for example).
The latest offering, the Karoq, comes with just one drive train option; a front wheel drive 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine producing 110KW of power and 250Nm of torque, complete with active cylinder management technology.
It’s mated to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission the Karoq and manages claimed combined fuel consumption of 5.8-litres/100km. We returned an average of 6.9-litres during our test, which saw a 70/30 split between city and highway driving.
The transmission however, will require a slight change in driving style to maximise its efficiency and avoid it searching for the right gear while accelerating. We found you need to accelerate slightly more briskly than usual to reach the speed limit.
Prolonging this process will see it change up and down until it settles on the right gear once you’ve reached your cruising speed. Behind the wheel though, the Karoq is light and nimble, making city roundabouts and shopping centres a breeze.
Vision and comfort are excellent, with plenty of adjustment available in the seat to find that optimum driving position no matter the height of the driver. The interior is well appointed, and our test car came with all three option packs.
Those packs included the Premium, Tech and Travel packs and gave us a host of extras. The Premium pack added LED headlights, leather interior, auto tailgate, 18-inch Braga alloy wheels, front parking sensors and stainless-steel pedals.
The Tech pack added satellite navigation to the Karoq’s 9.2-inch glass touchscreen with gesture control, premium CANTON sound, automatic parking, hands free virtual pedal for opening the tailgate, drive mode selection, DAB+ radio and wireless phone charging.
Finally, the Travel pack throws in lane keep assist, blind spot detection, electric memory for the driver’s seat, heated front seats, traffic jam assist, emergency assist and automatic folding door mirrors.
Interestingly, if you bundle all three packs together for $7,900 you save $2,900 over buying them individually. Now while the idea of add-on packs is something that irks us a little, it’s definitely a clever way of doing things on Skoda’s part.
Inside, the Karoq is a nice place to be with lots of different surfaces which offer that European feeling of build quality, which some of the Karoq’s competitors can’t match.
Dominating the centre dash is that infotainment system, with Bluetooth, SmartLink for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, vehicle customisation and more.
Brushed steel inspired splashes, soft and hard touch plastics and customisable environment lighting all contribute to that premium feeling and quirkiness that we have come to expect from Skoda.
In the back seat, there is plenty of room for adults with lots of headroom and adequate leg room. We love the tablet holders for the kids on the back of the headrests. It’s another nice touch by Skoda, as are the rear air vents and a 12v power socket.
The Karoq’s load carrying versatility is its trump card and where the Karoq really drives home its brand motto. The VarioFlex seating, as Skoda calls it, is made up of three back seats which can be individually folded down or even removed.
This provides great flexibility to your load requirements. No more folding down all three seats to fit in bicycles. With them all folded down, capacity is a respectable 1695-litres and increases to 1810-litres with the seats removed.
The cleverness doesn’t stop there though. The boot also contains a useful net system, which keeps loose items from rolling around, adjustable luggage hooks for groceries and a removable LED torch which doubles as the boot light when the door is open.
But wait there’s more, there’s also a removable cargo blind which raises and lowers with the tailgate, and a double-sided boot mat, with a carpeted side and a durable side for wet or dirty items after an adventurous weekend away.
Up front is a large centre storage compartment underneath the sliding armrest, a waste bin in the driver’s door and a ticket holder for your parking tickets or motorway tags. It’s these little touches that make the Skoda Karoq a pleasure to live with day in day out.
Safety is high on the agenda too, and the Karoq comes with seven airbags, adaptive cruise control, rear view camera, forward collision detection and driver attention detection as standard.
Combined with key-less entry and start, the list of standard features in the Karoq is impressive, as is the 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty and capped price servicing.
Whether you like to be a little different or you appreciate the subtle design features that the Skoda Karoq offers, it has something for everyone; including a keen $35,290 drive away price.
Some people will love how different it is and some won’t, but it’s got charm and challenges the medium SUV norm. At the moment you can even nick one from Skoda for a 48 hour test drive.
Our test vehicle was supplied by Skoda Australia. To find out more about the 2018 Skoda Karoq 110 TSI, contact your local Skoda dealer.