Sensible Skoda

shrinks its new SUV

Skoda Kamiq, front static
Skoda Kamiq, side action
Skoda Kamiq, full front static
Skoda Kamiq, front action
Skoda Kamiq, front action 2
Skoda Kamiq, rear action
Skoda Kamiq, rear static
Skoda Kamiq, dash detail
Skoda Kamiq, dash detail 2
Skoda Kamiq, dashboard
Skoda Kamiq, rear seats
Skoda Kamiq, boot

YOU could probably have heard the shouts of delight when the person responsible for naming the newest Skoda found the perfect word.

It can't have been easy. This third, and smallest, addition to the Czech car maker's range of SUVs had to start with a 'K' and end with a 'Q' to match the existing Karoq and Kodiaq.

So, thank you, the Inuit people of northern Canada and Greenland for coining the word Kamiq to mean something that fits perfectly in every situation, like a second skin.

That's how Skoda explains the name selection and you wonder how many other national dictionaries would have to be raided if a fourth SUV ever joins the line up.

Beneath the name sits a sensibly sized, sensibly priced and sensibly equipped (it is a Skoda, after all) addition to the exploding roll call of SUVs - not least from within the VW Group itself.

So, the Kamiq has to fight it out with similarly sized siblings from SEAT, with the Arona and VW itself (T-Cross) and hope its Skoda-ness clinches the deal and helps sell a projected 9,500 of them in the coming year.

While the Octavia is by far the biggest seller for Skoda in the UK (and a new version is imminent) the Kamiq enters the fastest growing new car segment as buyers hook on to the charms of sitting higher in a bolder looking car than a typical hatchback.

Underneath, you'll find a car based extremely closely on the still newly arrived Skoda Scala hatch and a glance at their dashboards shows they're pretty well identical too.

The Scala, with prices from £16,595 also starts lower than the Kamiq, with the entry level version at £17,700 and has a bigger boot (seats up or folded flat) than the newcomer - but such practicalities are unlikely to matter much for lots of buyers.

Instead, they'll warm to the Kamiq's solidly chunky shape, built tall in proper SUV fashion and faced with headlamps placed below the always-on daylight running lights for a gently distinctive touch.

Skoda says its tape measure shows the newcomer has class leading headroom, knee room and elbow room and there's a generous 26 litres of space for stowing the detritus of life on the road, with room for 1.5 litre bottles in the front doors, 0.5 litres in the rear ones and stowage spaces under the front seats.

The Kamiq comes in three trim levels, starting at S and with just a single (95hp) petrol engine and five-speed manual gearbox offered is likely to be a modest seller. Standard kit includes alloy wheels, LED lights, sound system with DAB and a 6.5-inch touchscreen.

Skoda thinks the next grade up (SE, from £19,135) will be the biggest seller. It adds larger alloys, upgraded sound system, rear parking sensors, cruise control and Apple CarPlay.

Move to SEL (from £21,180) and your alloys grow larger still, to 18-inches, and you'll find satellite navigation, a larger touchscreen, keyless ignition and blind spot detection.

Safety kit includes a lane departure warning that gently tries to steer you straight between the white lines and can turn irritating but can be switched off with a couple of pushes of a steering wheel mounted button.

There are three petrol engines available, a pair of 999cc three-cylinder petrol units with 95 or 115hp and a 1.5 litre, four-cylinder with 150hp. A sole diesel, with 1.6 litres and 115hp is offered but is likely to be a tiny seller in the UK.

Whichever fuel you choose or gearbox (five or six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG automatic) the emissions are all tightly grouped in VED band G with figures from 112 to 116g/km of CO2.

The diesel is, unsurprisingly, the most economical Kamiq, with up to 56.5mpg in the new and tougher official tests compared to a petrol best of 49.6mpg.

Biggest selling engine is likely to be the 115hp 1.0 litre petrol unit and a drive through some lovely Scottish border scenery (spotted through sheets of autumnal rain) showed what a good choice this will prove.

A typically crisp VW Group gearchange helped smooth progress up some steepish hills, where the distant thrum of the three-cylinder engine never intruded and provided perfectly decent performance (9.9 seconds to 62mph, 120mph) and a satisfactory 44.1mpg on the trip computer at journey's end.

The lesser powered, 95hp engine has to work harder on hills and the £800 charged for the extra dose of power and 115hp (and a sixth speed in the gearbox) looks like money well spent. Going diesel adds £1,900 to the bill and would need many, many more economical miles to pay back the difference.

So there you have it; Skoda offers (yet) another car designed for people who like a touch of style, know what represents proper value and is just... so sensible.

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