Škoda’s latest addition to the SUV range, the Karoq, replaces the quirky and endearing Yeti.
Škoda’s assault on mainstream sectors continues as it boosts its SUV range with the new Karoq.
Unlike the larger Kodiaq, which took the brand into a new part of the market, the Karoq is intended to attract new customers while retaining those who chose the Yeti.
Škoda appears to be operating on a one-in-one-out policy as the quirky and endearing Yeti is no more.
Like most of the Škoda range, the Karoq is a derivative of Volkswagen Group’s versatile MQB platform, but is most closely related to the Seat Ateca medium SUV.
The silhouette, engine and transmission line-up and other dimensions are all similar or even identical, although Škoda believes that by replacing the Yeti with a more mainstream product it will bring new customers to the brand.
The range kicks off with a 115PS 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine, with more power available from a 150PS 1.5 TSI offering cylinder deactivation. Diesel variants start with a 115PS 1.6 TDI, with a 150PS 2.0 TDI also available.
A DSG automatic transmission is offered on all engine variants – something the Kia Sportage and other rivals do not have – but four-wheel drive is only available on the 2.0 TDI.
The lowest CO2 emissions available are on DSG-equipped models, with the 1.6 TDI auto registered at 117g/km, 3g/km and one benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax band lower than the manual version.
There are also some petrol versions with CO2 emissions below 120g/km.
Although marketed in the past as Volkswagen Group’s ‘value’ brand, the Karoq’s pricing starts a little higher than you might expect, with the range starting at £20,875 compared with the Ateca’s £18,125.
But the Karoq is exceptionally well equipped with essentially a mid-grade model as the entry point.
The Karoq range begins with SE variants, which have standard 17-inch alloy wheels, multi-function steering wheel, automatic headlights and wipers, digital radio and Bluetooth, dual-one climate control, rear parking sensors, driver fatigue sensors, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian monitoring, LED daytime running lights and rear privacy glass.
There are also some thoughtful touches, like an ice scraper, an umbrella under the front passenger seat, folding rear tables and a removable LED torch in the boot.
SE L versions have 18-inch alloy wheels and add sat-nav with a touchscreen display, voice control and integrated Wi-Fi, LED headlights with adaptive lighting, heated front seats, a year’s subscription to Infotainment Online, rear-view camera and Varioflex individual rear seats.
The range-topping Karoq Edition has 19-inch alloys, blindspot warning with rear cross-traffic alert for reversing, upgraded navigation and touchscreen display, electrically folding door mirrors with auto-dimming function, power tailgate and electrically adjustable front seats.
It also has gesture control, lane-keeping assistance, leather seats, LED interior ambient lighting, metallic paint, a panoramic sunroof, traffic sign recognition and wireless phone charging for compatible smartphones.
It’s likely that, adjusted for its spec, the Škoda Karoq is a value leader in its sector and leaves room for a lower-priced entry-level model to be introduced if needed.
While the idiosyncratic appearance of the Yeti has been lost and the Karoq has a virtually identical shape to the Seat Ateca, there are styling elements that make it seem like a junior version of the larger Škoda Kodiaq.
The long wheelbase for its size of 2,638mm (identical to the Ateca) ensures there’s plenty of room inside, and luggage capacity ranging from 521 to 1,630 litres is also good.
With Varioflex seating, standard on SE L and Edition variants, the three individual rear seats can be removed as an alternative to being folded, expanding the total luggage volume to 1,810 litres.
We tried most available engine variants of the Karoq on the media launch, but chose to focus on the 1.6 TDI – which will be most popular with fleet users – and ours came with the optional seven-speed DSG auto.
The auto suits the mid-range performance and the smoothness of the diesel engine well.
Like all double-clutch transmissions, it’s possible to catch it out in auto mode if you suddenly need a burst of acceleration after a period of slowing down, but all DSG versions of the Karoq come with paddle shifters behind the steering wheel for quicker activation of manual gearchanges.
And despite all it has in common with the Seat Ateca, the Karoq has a noticeably more supple ride than its over-firm cousin. It doesn’t sacrifice too much responsiveness as a result – this is a family car after all – and makes the Karoq a rather convincing all-rounder.
Škoda believes the 1.5 TSI will outsell the 1.0 TSI in the UK, the former having cylinder deactivation which helps cut fuel consumption and emissions under low throttle load or when coasting.
There might well be a case for offering this version as a company car for low-mileage drivers, and both manual and DSG versions have fuel consumption of more than 50mpg in the NEDC combined cycle.
The Karoq is available to order now, with first customer deliveries in the UK expected in January 2018.
The Karoq might be the best all-rounder in its sector, and even if it isn’t the outright cheapest, it certainly retains the Škoda trait of providing more value pound-for-pound than anything else.
Model tested: Škoda Karoq 1.6 TDI SE L