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MotorBar
Skoda Karoq SE Drive 1.0 TSI 110PS 6-speed manual
Click to view picture gallery“The fact that Volvo now only sells
  SUVs in the UK confirms that it
s
  game, set, and match to Sports Utility
  Vehicles. However, if
practical family
  car
is your core search term, then
  you need look no further than
  Skoda
s uber-competent and value-
  for-money Karoq...”


WITHIN SKODA'S SUV LINE-UP the Karoq sits midway between the brand's more compact Kamiq and the full-size Kodiaq. Amazingly, it pulls off the trick of offering the best of both worlds; being both wieldy enough and capacious enough to deliver seriously good family use day-in and day-out. And, as we found after an especially hectic week behind the wheel of our three-pot petrol model, come what may it's also a joy to live with.

The acid test for us was the arduous eight-hour trip we undertook from Devon to Kent (that, had traffic conditions been 'normal', should have taken around half that time). Nevertheless, the Karoq took it all in its stride and came out with honours; hand on heart, everything about this likeable mid-size Skoda SUV is a positive. Above all — whether you're popping out for a local takeaway or undertaking the family's annual staycation — wherever you sit in a Karoq you'll be very comfortable indeed.

“The Karoq keeps you
pleasantly isolated from
poor roads and even the
weather; be it scorching
heat, torrential rain,
or hailstorms.
Whatever the driving
conditions, it honours
that great British tradition
of keeping calm and
carrying on. Exactly
what
s needed on todays
oftentimes
Mad Max
roads...”
And it doesn't end there either because the Karoq also keeps you pleasantly isolated from poor roads and even the weather; be it scorching heat, torrential rain, or hailstorms. Whatever the driving conditions, it honours that great British tradition of keeping calm and carrying on. Exactly what's needed on today's oftentimes 'Mad Max' roads.

Kicking off the trim range, the SE Drive reviewed here sits below two more expensive spec levels: SE L and SportLine. Despite that, the very fetching metallic Petrol Blue Karoq we drove comes comprehensively equipped. There's keyless entry & exit and Start, a two-spoke leather multi-function steering wheel, infotainment system with 8-inch touchscreen display — included too are online infotainment connectivity, DAB, Bluetooth, and SmartLink (wired Android Auto plus wireless for Apple CarPlay so you can run your smartphone apps on-screen), dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, privacy glass, electrically adjustable, heated and powerfolding door mirrors with auto-dimming and boarding spots, auto-dimming rearview mirror, electronic parking brake with autohold, cruise control with speed limiter, rear parking sensors, LED headlights, and rear LED lights with dynamic indicators.

Safety items include Front Assist emergency auto-braking with pedestrian monitoring, switch-off function for the passenger airbag, front, head, knee, curtain and front side airbags, ESC, Emergency Brake Signalling, hill hold control, auto lights and wipes, Light Assistant (coming home / leaving home / tunnel light), drive-away auto door locking, and tyre pressure monitoring.

Priced at an affordable 27K, it's a notably good deal made even better by the real-life 43.9mpg combined petrol consumption (officially 48.6mpg) from its frugal 110PS one-litre petrol engine. Wherever and however we drove it, our test Karoq never strayed far from the mid-forties mark which can only be good news during these penny-pinching times. For the record, this three-cylinder Karoq is more than willing to serve up some willing shove from low down, getting you to the benchmark 62mph in a satisfyingly unstressed 11.3 seconds, and tops out at 118mph.

While autobox transmissions have all but taken over, the Karoq's clean-shifting six-speed manual gearbox is foolproof to use when fighting your way through rush hour city traffic or when pressing on across twisty cross-country routes. If you need more urge, particularly for towing, then Skoda gives you options: alternatives to the entry-level 1.0-litre unit include a 1.5 petrol with 148bhp (mated to, if you prefer, a DSG twin-clutch autobox); a 187bhp 2.0-litre petrol (with a seven-speed DSG 'box and all-wheel drive) that rockets you to 62mph in a sharp seven seconds. And for all those diehard diesel fans there's a 116PS TDI.

One key reason why SUVs have become the number one choice for drivers (and their passengers) is that you never have to struggle to get out or suffer the jolt of dropping down into your seat — simply open a door, half turn, partly sit and swing in your legs. Exiting is equally hassle-free.

Priced at an affordable
27K, it’s a notably good
deal made even better
by the real-life 43.9mpg
combined petrol
consumption (officially
48.6mpg) from its frugal
three-cylinder 110PS
one-litre petrol engine.
Wherever and however
we drove our test Karoq
it never strayed far from
the mid-forties mark
which can only be good
news during these
penny-pinching times...”
Once behind the steering wheel it just keeps getting better thanks to a heated leather-wrapped rim. The shapely front chairs also contribute significantly, with multi-stage heating and extensive height adjustment (even with the seat squab ratcheted up, taller users will still enjoy a fist+ of headroom), and lumbar support than can be as hard or as soft as you like.

Add to that a first-rate driving position boosted by excellent visibility courtesy of the commanding seating and large windows, which together ensure the Karoq is a doddle to place accurately in traffic.

Over-the-shoulder views are equally reassuring, and you won't ever miss what's coming up behind. Controls are all exactly where you'd expect to find them, the navigation / infotainment system is intuitive and simple to use and all the displays crystal clear (no surprise that it's rated as one of the best in its class).

Overall the Karoq's cabin exudes that sense of soothing organisation you'll find in a premium Volvo SUV underpinned by just the right amount of everything (not too much, not too little) — a design principle the Swedes call lagom.

The Karoq's airy feel-good interior is logically arranged, with satisfying fit-and-finish, creating a cabin you will be happy to use for a very long time. A very big 'plus' is that while other brands give their customers no option but to use a touchscreen for everything, Karoq drivers get a dual-zone climate system with traditional controls, sited immediately beneath the main display: the knurled knobs and switches are a cinch (and safer) to use when you're driving along.

And it's always a pleasure to find, as you do in a Karoq, plenty of well-considered storage solutions — including a useful-sized chillable glovebox, a commodious storage bin between the front seats under an extending and height-adjustable armrest, large multi-use tray at the base of the centre stack with USB C ports, accommodating 1.5-litre bottle-holding front door pockets, a moveable rubbish bin, a handy bin with a flip-up lid sited top-dead-centre in the dash, and overhead storage for your shades. Oh, and you'll also find a parking ticket clip on the screen-pillar (still a necessity!), as well as a compact umbrella stored beneath the passenger seat.

Those travelling, in the rear seats, even six-footers, do not have to make any sacrifices: the rear cabin is decidedly spacious with comfy seating, plenty of legroom and headroom, and fine views out.

Equally welcome is the privacy glass as well as the flip-up foldable picnic tables fitted to both front seatbacks (that can be set level or at various angles to favour a tablet, etc) along with full-with pouches, a wide, padded central armrest with built-in cupholders, deep, bottle-holding door bins, central air vents, and a 12-volt power socket. So, no complaints from grown-ups or youngsters and, thanks to the large door openings, getting kids in and out of child seats is a doddle.

The wheel feels good
in your hands and
delivers quick and
accurate driver-friendly
responses; combined
with the decent levels of
grip the well-planted and
surprisingly chuckable
Karoq always feels
reassuringly safe —
a feeling you also get
from the brakes when
it
s time to put on
the anchors...”
Seventeen-inch alloy wheels are standard fitment on SE Drive models and they keep the ride on the sweet side; even driven over less than perfect blacktop, this mid-size SUV rides calmy while maintaining impressive refinement. And should you have a mind to press on then the Karoq's underpinnings — the Volkswagen Group's highly rated MQB chassis (front MacPherson strut suspension/torsion beam rear axle) — are more than up to the job.

The wheel feels good in your hands and delivers quick and accurate driver-friendly responses; combined with the decent levels of grip the well-planted and surprisingly chuckable Karoq always feels reassuringly safe — a feeling you also get from its brakes when it's time to put on the anchors. And while there's a mere 999cc under the bonnet, it breezes along back roads, focussed and controllable (helped by the slick-acting stick-shifter) and cruises motorways with ease.

SUVs are also prized for their boots — the Karoq's is one of the biggest in its class and offers 521 litres while also accommodating its full complement of driver and four passengers; fold down the rear seatbacks and you'll have yourself an uber-practical 1,630-litre loadbay. For those once-in-a-blue-moon 'specials', such as a home move, the rear seats can be removed completely to provide a van-like cargo bay.

Skoda also throw in some stretchy nets and bag hooks to keep your cargo shipshape. Also much appreciated is the reversible boot mat: rubber one side; carpet the other. Access, too, is easy-peasy, made so by a high-lifting tailgate. Baby buggies, mountain bikes, even a Great Dane; they'll all fit! Anything left over can always go up top on the roof rails. Or you can just haul it behind — even this 1.0-litre Karoq will pull a braked 1,400kg.

We were genuinely sorry to see the Karoq go back at the end of our test week, during which time it had behaved faultlessly — even in very trying conditions. And while there's plenty of other family-friendly SUVs out there all eager to please, the oh-so-easy-to-live-with and easy-to-drive Karoq is without doubt the easiest to say Yes to. A fine all-rounder. ~ MotorBar
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Skoda Karoq SE Drive 1.0 TSI 110PS 6-speed manual | 27,470
Maximum speed:118mph | 0-62mph: 11.3 seconds | Test Average: 43.9mpg
Power: 110bhp | Torque: 148lb ft | CO2: 132g/km

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