By Mike Torpey on 2023-01-15 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Skoda Karoq SE Drive
CAR people like to pigeon-hole things, categorise them, put them in a compartment.
Is it an SUV or a crossover, a coupe or a fastback, a saloon or a sedan, an estate or a shooting brake?
Well the model that in five years has become one of Skoda's top sellers is, literally, a CAR.
The Karoq, which replaced the quirky but very popular Yeti in 2017, is a name from the Inuit language used by the eskimos of Alaska, and simply means CAR.
And if Skoda felt they were onto something successful at the time, they certainly know it now - this is pretty much the ideal family vehicle, one that's practical, economic and sensibly priced. A really desirable CAR.
So much so that well in excess of half a million Karoqs have been sold in five years and earlier this year the range received a facelift followed in the summer by some specification and trim updates.
The revised line-up comprises the three trim grades of SE Drive, SE L and SportLine with customers able to choose from a trio of petrol along with two diesel engines and prices from £26,255.
Among the updates is a new eight-inch digital display giving drivers the choice of three layouts - tachometer, rev counter and digital - with ambient lighting reflected in the display.
You can also now get a safety package, including front and rear curtain side airbags and something called Crew Protect Assist which increases the protection of front seat passengers in critical situations.
Our tested model was the entry grade SE Drive Karoq with the economic yet quite sprightly 1.0-litre, three cylinder turbo petrol engine.
It also comes well specced for a base level offering, with an interior that feels well put together and premium, and includes kit like touchscreen navigation, 17-inch alloys and an eight-inch digital instrument display.
SE Drive versions also get LED lights with welcome effect and dynamic indicators, SmartLink with wireless Android Auto/Apple CarPlay plus rear parking sensors as standard.
Inside, where the upholstery feels satisfyingly upmarket and an optional Eco pack features seat coverings made from vegan recycled material, there's plenty of space for a compact vehicle.
Three passengers can fit across the back at a squeeze - two comfortably - though this ceases to be a problem if you opt for Skoda's VarioFlex seating system with its independently sliding and reclining rear seats.
It costs £745 but is worth the outlay, especially as the seats also remove completely if you need to shift the contents of the spare bedroom.
As for load capacity there's 521 litres of room in the boot, a figure which rises to 588 litres with VarioFlex and 1,605 with the rear seats folded.
Practicality has long been a trademark of Skoda vehicles under its Simply Clever banner and the Karoq continues that path with thoughtful initiatives like a brolley under the passenger seat, an ice scraper, an illuminated and cooled glovebox, foldable tables on the front seat backrests and a ‘coming home/leaving home' light assistant.
You also get front door bins capable of holding a 1.5-litre bottle and the option of including mini flip-top rubbish baskets.
Out on the road the 1.0-litre petrol engine in our model felt more spirited than the official 0-62mph acceleration figure of 11.2 seconds would suggest. The steering was reassuringly balanced and the car was well damped over rougher surfaces.
Skoda Karoq SE Drive 1.0 TSI
Mechanical:110ps, 1.0-litre, 3-cyl TSI petrol engine driving front wheels via six-speed automatic transmission
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