Skoda Karoq a high

value SUV

Skoda Karoq, front, static
Skoda Karoq, front, static, beach
Skoda Karoq, front
Skoda Karoq, side
Skoda Karoq, display screen
Skoda Karoq, rear seats
Skoda Karoq, interior
Skoda Karoq, rear
Skoda Karoq, boot

SKODA Yeti fans may still be bemoaning the demise of their chunky, box-like practical car but its replacement - called the Karoq - will be far better, more practical and good value for money as a familyisized Sports Utility Vehicle.

Yeti diehards will still be able buy their favourite as its production is overlapping the Karoq for some months ahead but the impressive and vastly more spacious and comfortable replacement can be ordered now.

The Karoq, which is a smaller ‘sister' to the bigger Kodiaq SUV, will naturally be compared to its two other VW Group stablemates - the SEAT Ateca and the VW Tiguan - as they all share the same platform and also all of the petrol and diesel engines.

To their credit, the Skoda backroom team have tried, and succeeded, to make the Karoq different with their own distinct brand clearly evident from the outside whilst on the inside, despite utilising some of VW Group's switchgear, it is much in line with that of the Kodiaq.

Sensibly, with an ever increasing number of models in the SUV sector, Skoda has tried to keep it simple by offering the Karoq in just three trim levels - SE (prices from £20,875), SE L (from £23,165) and the range topping Edition (from £27,110).

There are initially four engine options with two petrol and two diesel ranging from 113bhp to 148bhp and all have either a six-speed manual gearbox or seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox - again all well proven mechanics from the Volkswagen Group engineers whilst the most powerful diesel model in the 2.0 TDi 148bhp is available with four-wheel-drive and priced from £30,390.

The Karoq is some 20cm longer than the Yeti which helps explain why it has such a roomy and spacious interior and with all three trim versions the cabin quality is good with distinct premium materials used.

It's good to see it retains the Yeti's so practical VarioFlex seating system where one can remove, slide and the recline the back seats individually.

The quite spacious interior is better than its immediate in-house rival, the Ateca, plus having a larger boot space from 479 litres to 588 litres with the rear seats folded, while both driver and passengers have high seating positions with really good all round vision.

For the driver there's plenty of adjustment for the steering wheel and seat and with a thinner windscreen pillar and large side windows the cabin has a more airy feel.

All the controls are in typical VW style meaning they are well positioned along with nice, soft touch plastic on the dashboard and doors.

In terms of the standard levels of equipment across the three trims they also are impressive and again offering value for money.

The so-called entry-level SE comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, privacy glass, LED rear lights, climate control and with safety features such as a front assist pedestrian monitor and driver fatigue sensor amongst others.

Move up to the SE L trim, which is expected to be the biggest seller in the UK, and there are more standard features like 18-inch alloy wheels, an Amundsen sat nav with an eight-inch touch screen, stop/start, full LED headlights, heated front seats and Alcantara upholstery and much more.

Naturally the flagship Edition models have even more standard gear on board that includes 19-inch alloy wheels and more plus a panoramic sunroof which is a big bonus in a car like the Karoq because it gives so much more interior light - hopefully it will be offered as an option on less trimmed versions as it's such a benefit to passengers.

The Edition also has as standard 9.2-inch touch screen display and gesture control Columbus sat nav, electrically operated boot, blind spot detection with rear traffic alert and electrically operated front seats with a memory function and leather upholstery.

As for which engine to go for again that will be down to individual choice and whether one opts for petrol or diesel.

There is the group's one-litre, three cylinder petrol engine available and that's more suited for local running.

The favourite one in my opinion is the new 1.5-litre 148bhp petrol which with the seven-speed DSG automatic box on board (there is a six-speed manual as an alternative) is ideally suited to the Karoq.

It's responsive on acceleration and has excellent mid range pick-up for overtaking yet remains quiet with minimal tyre and wind noise when driving faster out on the motorway.

It has nicely weighted steering and even though the car is quite tall in itself it remains stable enough when cornering briskly and it has plenty of grip and body control.

It offers a decent enough comfortable ride and with sound suspension set up more than copes with those potholes and bumpy Tarmac surfaces we all tend to drive over too much nowadays.

With the DSG box the gear changes are smooth and quick which all makes for enjoyable driving whatever the road conditions - it's well worth the extra £1,300 spend on the SE L trim version.

There's nothing wrong with the six-speed manual gearbox in any of the Karoq models but the DSG is that bit extra special with its swift, effortless up and down gear change for the driver in my view.

This 1.5-litre will clock in a quick acceleration time of 8.4 seconds for 0 to 62mph and return an average of 52.3mpg and whilst some drivers may feel they need something that gives a more direct sporty performance then the answer is to opt for one of the 2.0-litre petrol engined models.

So while some Yeti supporters may be disappointed, a brief drive of the new Karoq will more than compensate.

It's a smart looking, compact SUV with an exceptional level of standard equipment whatever the trim level and is cheaper too than its main rivals.

Footnote:The name of Karoq originates from the Kodick Island in Alaska where the locals call cars ‘kaa'rak' while an arrow (like on the Skoda badge) is called a roq - hence the name off Koraq.

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