Family SUVs can be dull, dreary things these days, but thankfully you have offerings such as the Škoda Karoq Edition.
The Škoda range of SUV’s all aim to inject a little extra class and luxury to your sensible family car without breaking the bank. At £32,060 on the road though, is it worth the upgrade over the Sportline or SE L models, or at this money are you better off going for the larger Kodiaq?
The Karoq sits smack-bang in the middle of the Škoda SUV line up, offering more space and size than the Kamiq (read our review), but below the sheer size (and with two less seats) than the large Kodiaq (read our review). This places the Karoq in competition with the likes of the Nissan Qashqai and Seat Ateca, along with a whole plethora of other SUVs sharing the same market segment – stiff competition indeed.
Looking at the Karoq Edition, it’s a handsome beast – large headlights and the trademark Škoda grill give plenty of presence to the front of the car, whilst thick, rugged black plastic detailing and lower rear bumper gives a sense of utility, though unfortunately also appears to ‘cheapen’ the appearance of what is a higher-spec model in the Karoq range. LED headlights and indicators bring the appearance of the car up-to-date after dark, whilst sharp angles such as the crease below the side windows give the Karoq a thoroughly modern and on-trend appearance and design language.
Despite the liberal use of black plastics, however, the body-coloured details such as the door handles and mirror caps keep the Karoqs appearance classy, and the significant ground clearance means you’ll never have an issue sizing up against other mid-size SUVs in your local Waitrose parking lot.
Smart 19” ‘Crater’ alloy wheels sit in the voluminous Karoq arches, though despite the large wheel size the skinny tires they are shod in do accentuate the size of the arch gap, which unfortunately looks a little ungainly from certain angles as if it needs a couple of tyre sizes larger to tie it all together. Having said that, however, the wheel choice does look incredibly smart and sits well with the editions ‘high end’ market goals.
Moving inside the cabin you really start to get a sense of where your money goes with the ‘edition’ model, and this is where the Karoq Edition shines. Material choices are very good inside the Karoq Edition, with plenty of leather and soft-touch materials draped around the cabin giving this family SUV a more ‘upmarket’ feel than you may expect.
Upon entering the cabin, the first thing that hits you is just how light the interior is despite being mostly black leather and plastic – the large panoramic glass roof lets in a wealth of much-needed light, which also serves to accentuate the curves of the smartly-designed front seats. They are leather and are heated – perfect for those cold, early-morning winter starts. That’s not to say the interior is perfect, however, as unusually for a car of this price tag the seats aren’t cooled, whilst only the driver gets power adjustment although dual-zone climate means that both yourself and your passenger can be kept at your preferred temperatures. There is also a slight air of German ‘clinical’ design here (inherited from Škoda’s parental group no doubt) though it does also double up as being easy to clean – perfect for young families.
Speaking of which, the level of adjustment for the driver’s lumbar support and the seating position is fantastic; I had no problems setting my driving position up and fine-tuning it as the days passed, though never once did I get out of the Karoq even after lengthy 2-hour drives and have any complaints about comfort. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for the passenger’s comfort, as the manual lumbar adjustment is minimal and finding a comfortable position proved tricky – A great shame considering the excellence of comfort offered to the driver and high overall quality of the interior.
Rear seat passengers, by contrast, had no complaints, with plenty of legroom, light and storage available. One neat little feature that I haven’t seen on family cars for a while is the addition of rear seat tray tables, perfect for if you need to grab a quick bite on-the-go or need to work from the back of your car. This excellent flexibility also translated to the storage spaces found in the Karoq, with deep door pockets, a multitude of cubby holes and storage bins and a very healthy FIGURE of boot space, with seats up/down respectively.
Infotainment comes in the form of Skodas standard ‘Columbus’ built-in system interfaced via the 9.2” display, though of course Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are both on offer in the Edition trim should you prefer to use your phones navigation/media software. The Skoda system is more than capable though, with good response times and even fancy hand gesture control available on the menus and media to navigate through pages or skip music tracks when using the built-in media system. My only bugbear with the Skoda system is that the navigation screen can become somewhat jumbled and isn’t ideal for reading whilst driving.
Speaking of driving, this seems like a good segue into discussing the Karoqs on-road characteristics:
Now, being a mid-sized SUV, the Karoq was never going to light up the tires or be perfect for chucking into tight corners (or at least not without greatly upsetting your passengers!) though it did pleasantly surprise me with its driving experience.
The 2.0-litre 150ps TDI unit was punchy and offered plenty of get-up-and-go, with a healthy dose of torque setting in from around the 2000rpm mark with a noticeable – but not uncomfortable – shove when under heavy acceleration. Shifting through the 6-speed manual transmission was also more rewarding than expected in a vehicle of this nature, with gear changes being precise and surprisingly short with the throw. Motorway journeys are an absolute doddle in the Karoq, with the dash to 60 being over within 9 seconds and only a little bit more up to 70, whilst plenty of low-end torque also makes overtaking a breeze with plenty of ‘punch’ on tap.
Great handling as previously mentioned isn’t the goal for Škoda here, although the Karoq Edition handled a variety of surfaces and mixture of dual carriageway and twisting lanes very well indeed; My only criticism being the somewhat jarring ride over older road surfaces due to the large wheels and low profile tires, though switching out of ‘sport’ mode did alleviate this a bit. Road noise was noticeable on uneven surfaces too, though this was balanced out by the surprisingly refined TDI engine, which remained quiet even under load.
Three driving modes are available – eco, normal and sport – and you can even set up a ‘custom’ mode to personalise the driving experience, such as having the weightier ‘sport’ steering input but keeping everything else light and comfortable as it would be in ‘eco’ mode.
With Skoda pinning high hopes on the Karoq, there is no doubt that the mid-sized SUV certainly delivers, but it all comes at a cost. At a smudge over £32K, you’re well into Kodiaq territory here, whilst most of the tech found on the Edition can also be found on the SE L, along with the same choice of engines and transmissions.
My conclusion: The Škoda Karoq has got it right in so many ways. it delivers everything you’d expect from a family SUV and more, whilst the Edition trim certainly gives it a luxury feel which lives up to your expectations.
The driving experience is very good indeed, but if you can live without the high-end gadgets such as the larger touchscreen system, electronically-adjustable seats and panoramic roof, you can have fundamentally the same car for significantly less by opting for the SE L trim – and that would be my advice here.
Car reviewed: Škoda Karoq Edition 2.0 TDI 150PS, on the road price £32,060 with options as tested £32,495 0-62mph 9.0secs Top speed 126mph Engine 2.0-litre 4 cylinder diesel Euro 6.2 Fuel Economy WLTP Combined 49.6 – 47.1mpg CO2 emissions 124g/km Max Power 150PS@3500-4000rpm Torque 340Nm@1750rpm Transmission 6-speed manual
Kieran Bicknell offers his fresh take on car reviews by making the most of his dynamic, yet detailed approach to writing. Having graduated from university with a BA (Hons) in Photography and spending a number of years as a freelance automotive photographer. Kieran is now putting his knowledge and writing skills to use, with the ability to supply both written articles and imagery. Kieran feels at home in anything from small superminis to the latest SUVs, and relishes the opportunity to drive, photograph and write about anything with four wheels.
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