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In the not so distance past, if you were in the market for a practical and economical SUV, a diesel was without a doubt the way to go. Yes, they might have cost fractionally more to purchase than their petrol counterparts, but in return you got great fuel economy, effortless performance and slow depreciation.
Oh what a difference an industry-wide scandal makes. Ever since Dieselgate, the decline of diesels sales has been relentless, and despite manufacturers arguing that the latest generation of diesels are far cleaner than their predecessors, the buying public are simply not convinced.
So what options do you have now if you want a clean and frugal SUV? Well, with diesel sales on a downward slope, manufacturers have focused on the development of smaller, turbocharged petrol engines, such as the one in this Skoda Karoq. And the results, on paper at least, look impressive.
With a peak output of 113bhp at 5000rpm, the Karoq’s little three-cylinder manages to match the equivalent (and £3330 more expensive) 1.6 TDI diesel. And with the small-capacity petrol managing to achieve the 0-62mph sprint in 10.6sec, it’s 0.1sec quicker, too.
2018 Skoda Karoq 1.0 TSI on the road
No matter how convincing a small-capacity engine looks on paper, it’s hard to believe that such a compact engine has enough grunt to power along a family SUV. Even VW decided against using a 1.0-litre in its new Tiguan, a car that is only a little larger than the Karoq.
However, it quickly becomes apparent that the engine is more than up to the task. Plant your right foot and, as with the majority of small-capacity turbocharged engines, there’s a slight hesitation as you wait for the turbocharger to limber up. But once the revs are beyond 2000rpm, the engine's power delivery is progressive and reasonably strong.
Push the engine harder and it's thrum does start to intrude a bit, but things quickly settle down again once you're up to speed. And thanks to the six-speed manual gearbox’s well-spaced ratios, there’s no real need to chase the redline, because it’s easy to make the best use of the available torque.
And yet, despite having enough grunt, you have to be aware that this is still a relatively heavy car with a respectable but not plentiful 113bhp. So, if you have a large family or frequently carry heavy loads, the 148bhp 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol is worth considering.
No matter what engine you go for, however, you’ll still be getting one of the best-riding cars in the class. On the 18in wheels (17in wheels come as standard on the base model) of our test car, the Karoq remained comfortable and composed, no matter the surface. That's something that simply can’t be said about the more agile, firmer-riding Seat Ateca and less composed Peugeot 3008.
2018 Skoda Karoq 1.0 TSI Inside
For our full breakdown of the Karoq’s interior, head over to our full review. But to summarise, the Karoq offers a level of build quality that is up there with the best the Volkswagen Group has to offer. Borrowing styling cues from its bigger brother, the Skoda Kodiaq, the Karoq’s dashboard feels more modern than those of the Tiguan and Ateca, while a few metal and piano black inserts add a touch of class.
As standard, the Karoq comes with plenty of equipment, including privacy glass, electric front and rear windows, cruise control and dual-zone climate control. You also get an excellent 8.0in infotainment touchscreen that looks distinctly upmarket and is clear and intuitive to use.
That said, we’d definitely select the Skoda's Varioflex seats as an option, because this provides three individual rear seats that slide, recline and can be removed entirely if you so wish. This allows you to create a huge boot right up to the front seats. The only downside is that the seats are heavy and cumbersome once you've taken them out.
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