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Skoda Kamiq Monte Carlo 1.0 TSI 110PS DSG
Click to view picture gallery“Its not just family drivers who will
  appreciate Skoda
s easy-to-live-with
  crossover, the Kamiq, because it
s
  one of those rarities in an uncertain
  world
a sure thing. Our advice?
  Cross over to one now!”


COMPACT CROSSOVERS LIKE the Kamiq are surprisingly versatile and represent the Sport Utility Vehicle concept at its most efficient. Sure the big boys can cut the mustard when it comes to moving 5+2 but in the real world the important number is usually 2+2 with the wild card more likely to be the family dog rather than a fifth person. And it goes without saying that small crossovers are also perfect for 2+lifestyle users.

There's no denying that if a compact SUV is what you're after there are plenty to choose from. In the Kamiq's favour it has a trump card to play — it's usefully bigger than your average 'small' SUV. And because the deal-breaker is often the looks, the Kamiq scores highly here too. Critically, and unlike some, its styling won't be out of fashion by the time its first-year road tax comes round for renewal.

While parking spaces
get smaller every time
the bay lines are
repainted, interiors of
each new car seem to
grow in the other
direction. The Kamiq,
despite its compact
1.8m x 4.3m footprint,
offers plenty of inner
space. In the front
that also includes a full
fist of headroom even
with the height-
adjustable seats cranked
up; leg room, too, is
plentiful and six-footers
will feel perfectly
at home...”
Fronted by Skoda's popular and readily recognised winged arrowhead badge and a bold black radiator grille flanked at each corner by stacked two-piece LED headlights, the Kamiq looks decidedly classy. Sharp lines and precise side creasing add interest and even the tail treatment invites a second look with the black 'SKODA' lettering on the tailgate fashioned in a contemporary sans serif typeface, eye-catching C-shaped wraparound LED taillights with dynamic indicators, and a diffuser neatly integrated into the rear bumper. Black glasshouse trim underscores the dechromed theme, as do the striking high-gloss black and machine-finished alloy wheels.

While parking spaces get smaller every time the bay lines are repainted, the interiors of every new car seem to grow in the other direction. The Kamiq, despite its compact 1.8m x 4.3m footprint, offers plenty of inner space. In the front that also includes a full fist of headroom even with the height-adjustable seats cranked up; leg room, too, is plentiful and six-footers will feel perfectly at home.

The sports seats, with integral headrests and effective shoulder pads, are smartly unholstered in black fabric with carbon-fibre pattern red bolstering. And they are every bit as supportive as they look, keeping you comfy in the city as well as firmly in place when pressing on outside the city limits. Both front seats benefit from manual height and lumbar adjustment and the large backrest knobs are not only easy to use when you're seated but ensure precise positioning. Naturally the seatbelts are also height adjustable.

The driving position is first-rate too, offering unrestricted forward vision. Although you don't sit quite as high in the Kamiq as in a Range Rover, you still get an excellent view out in all directions courtesy of the slim front A-pillars, large windscreen, and big side windows. Consequently, placing the Kamiq accurately in jostling rush-hour traffic couldn't be easier — a light task made more enjoyable by the sporty, flat-bottomed multifunction steering wheel's perforated leather rim that feels great in your palms.

Adding to the Monte Carlo's pleasant ambiance is a panoramic glass roof with a one-shot-op powered blackout sunshade; unlike most others, this one extends from the rear forwards, not front-to-back, so those travelling in the back seats, and in particular youngsters strapped into child seats, can stay in the shade even when the adults up front need to catch some rays. Other appreciated touches include a trad-style pull-up handbrake, tactile climate controls, ally pedals and, receiving a big 'like' from all those with small children, Isofix child seat fixings on the front passenger seat (as well as the outer rears).

And, although not of itself headline news, the Kamiq does provide loads of places to store everybody's 'stuff': a usefully deep box between the front seats beneath the central armrest, capacious (they stretch the full length of the doors) bottle-holding front door pockets, a big, lit glovebox, a tray ahead of the selector lever with USB sockets close by, dual-use cupholders, plus a handy lidded cubby on the driver's side lower fascia that can be home for everything from a compact camera to keys and coins.

City slog or countryside
cruising, the 1.0-litre
Kamiq is a doddle to
drive smoothly thanks to
the autobox’s slick
changes.
This 108bhp 1.0-litre unit
is agreeably eager,
noticeably so in Sport
mode, whenever you
need to hustle — such as
when joining fast-moving
motorway traffic.
And once there, the top
ratio ensures relaxed
cruising. Along with the
pretty gutsy
performance, there’s also
some pretty economical
fuel consumption:
officially the figure is 45.9
to 47.1mpg; our week’s
overall test average came
out at a pound-stretching
46.9mpg...”
Renowned for its 'really good ideas', Skoda offers a nifty feature as an option for all those drivers fed up with trying to avoid banging the doors of any car parked alongside. Tick the box and your Kamiq can be fitted with a set of concealed rubber strips that automatically pop out to protect your door edges whenever a door is opened.

Other well considered features include the Czech brand's umbrella-holstered-in-the-driver's-door, ice-scraper clipped inside the fuel filler flap, and removable dual-use LED torch that recharges automatically whilst in place when functioning as a boot light.

A crystal clear 9.2-inch Amundsen SatNav and Infotainment touchscreen sits high on the central dash where a quick glance suffices to take in the information when driving. Ahead of the driver is one of Skoda's excellent 'virtual cockpit' 10.25-inch instrument panels (just like you'd find in an Audi or Beemer) — this can be configured using buttons on the steering wheel to show five different views (Classic, Minimal, Extended, Modern, and Sports) including widescreen-format active 3D mapping. Switching screens is also easy on the move.

For those drivers who like to stick with the navigation app on their smartphone, there's Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Plus interfacing is cable-free. You also get Laura (Skoda's voice assistant); 'she' who recognises natural speech and commands for navigation, fone, media, and radio), Bluetooth, DAB radio, the latest (smaller size) USB-C ports, as well as an SOS assistant that notifies the emergency services in the event of a collision. Also much appreciated is a trad-style set of controls for the climate system, while the hassle is taken out of reversing and parking by a rearview camera and parking sensors front and rear.

Along with the comprehensive equipment already mentioned, the Monte Carlo comes with must-have items such as an auto-dimming rearview mirror, powerfolding and heated door mirrors, four one-shot up/down power windows, privacy glass, and a large contingent of safety kit that includes the all-important Front Assist (automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection) and helpful lane-keeping assistance. In addition, there's cruise control, driver fatigue warning, stability control, auto lights and wipes, full LED headlights (ultra-bright dipped-beam plus adaptive main beam), automatic drive-away door locking, and tyre pressure monitoring.

With its sports seats, two-tone upholstery, invitingly upmarket finishing (such as the smart full-width carbon-fibre effect dash trim), comprehensive comms, and two digital displays, the top-spec Monte Carlo model makes an especially nice place in which to spend time; compared to other small SUVs it looks, and feels, gratifyingly plush.

Residing in this Kamiq's engine bay is a turboed 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol unit that punches out a peppy 108bhp with power feeding the front wheels via a seven-speed Direct Shift Gearbox. And, buoyed up by a respectable 148lb ft of torque, it's easily exploitable with decent shove from low-down and emits a likeably thrummy engine note that's generally in the background. That said, work it harder — it gets off the line and up to 62mph in a brisk 10.2 seconds — and the trademark three-pot warble lets you know that this free-revving motor is on the case; but it's exactly the kind of informative audible feedback a driver wants (and needs) to hear.

The Kamiq’s
suspension set-up is
a winner: it serves up a
fluent ride that’s one
of the best in its class;
bumps, rough blacktop
and even potholes are
‘ironed out’ with no
thuds or jolts, leaving the
passengers undisturbed
by it all.
On country roads
and motorways it’s also
satisfyingly smooth.
For sporty drivers,
Skoda offer an
optional Sport Chassis
Control set-up with
adjustable shockers and
a lowered chassis.
While this does indeed
deliver a sportier,
more dynamic drive,
the standard ride is so
good that most drivers
will be happy to save
the money and stick with
the status quo...”
City slog or countryside cruising, the 1.0-litre Kamiq is a doddle to drive smoothly thanks to the autobox's slick changes. This 108bhp 1.0-litre unit is agreeably eager whenever you need to hustle — noticeably so in Sport mode — such as when joining fast-moving motorway traffic. And once there the DSG's top ratio ensures relaxed cruising. Along with the pretty gutsy performance, there's also some pretty economical fuel consumption: officially the figure is 45.9 to 47.1mpg; our week's overall test average came out at a pound-stretching 46.9mpg.

Not many small crossover/SUVs are as liberal with their rear seat legroom as the Skoda Kamiq, which gives you plenty. Even six-footers sitting behind six-footers have several inches of air ahead of their knees. And the headroom is amazing — a full two fists of it; something few full-size SUVs can match! The generous glasshouse also means deep, long side windows which is more good news in terms of views out — despite what people think, not everyone is engrossed in a tablet or on their phone when travelling.

All of which makes the airy rear cabin of a Kamiq an excellent place to settle in for a long trip; somewhere you can get comfy, relax, and luxuriate in some stretch and wriggle room. And, let's not forget the detailing that also adds to the appeal: dedicated climate air vents, large material pouches (not mesh, which can snag on everything you put in it) on the front seatbacks, good-sized rear door bins and well-padded seats (the outer sections are 'individualised') with relaxing backrest angles.

The Kamiq's suspension set-up is a winner: it serves up a fluent ride that's one of the best in its class; bumps, rough blacktop and even potholes are 'ironed out' with no thuds or jolts, leaving the passengers undisturbed by it all. On country roads and motorways it's also satisfyingly together. For sporty drivers, Skoda offer an optional Sport Chassis Control set-up with adjustable shockers and a lowered chassis. While this does indeed deliver a sportier, more dynamic drive, the standard ride is so good that most drivers will be happy to save the money and stick with the status quo.

'Tied down' (in the nice possible way!) is how the Kamiq feels and handles. While its size, tight turning circle, and accurate steering all help make it feel perfectly at home in the hullabaloo of a big city, when the street lighting runs out it's equally well suited to twisty A-roads and tricksy back roads — where it feels agile and refreshing to drive.

Boots. Some people rarely use 'em, dumping shopping and other stuff on the rear seats or in the rear footwells. Others, well they can't get enough of using them for everything including dog-carrying (when the double-sided boot mat comes in especially handy), transporting wheelchairs (a folded one will fit; fully assembled you'll need to go to full loadbay configuration), and the kids' bikes. The Kamiq's is much larger than you might be expecting, offering up 400 litres with the back seats in use. However, drop the 60:40-split backrests and you'll have a very accommodating 1,395-litre loadbay.

However much you intend to use your Kamiq to cart things around, it's well worth ticking the box for the optional dual-height boot floor. With this set to its top position, stowing half a dozen carry-on cases is straightforward. Incidentally, the tailgate lifts high, the load cover is a lightweight parcel shelf that rises with it (and which slots neatly behind the rear seats if you need to load the boot to the roof while also carrying passengers) and the boot aperture is large enough to make getting even bulky items in and out hassle-free. Nice touches include the removable LED torch that self-charges while in place when on duty as the boot light. Finally, even with just a three-pot doing the pulling, the Kamiq will tow a braked 1,200kg.

With join-the-club prices starting at 20K, the Kamiq is first and foremost affordable. The good news is that there's no 'but' here because it also comes well kitted-out with bang-up-to-date tech features, is practical, has a comfortable and spacious cabin, and is a breeze to drive. In fact, it's the small crossover that delivers big-time! ~ MotorBar
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Skoda Kamiq Monte Carlo 1.0 TSI 110PS DSG | 27,170
Maximum speed: 122mph | 0-62mph: 10.2 seconds | Test Average: 46.9mpg
Power: 108bhp | Torque: 148lb ft | CO2: 137-140g/km

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