New Skoda Karoq and Vauxhall Grandland vs Kia Sportage: interiors
Households on tight budgets don’t need to compromise to get a great family SUV, as these entry-level models demonstrate. Let’s see which one offers the best value...
Behind the wheel
Driving position, visibility, build quality
You’re unlikely to have any issues getting the seat and steering wheel into positions that work for you in any of our contenders, although the Kia Sportage benefits from having the most reach adjustment for the wheel. Also, while you sit relatively high in all three, it’s the Sportage that gives you the strongest reminder that you’re in an SUV.
That said, you’ll find the Skoda Karoq’s seat is the most comfortable and supportive, especially for longer journeys. The Sportage’s is a little softer and wider – great if you’re broad-shouldered – but it doesn’t grip you as tightly in corners. Nor does it offer adjustable lumbar support (which the Karoq gets), although this isn’t a massive loss, because there’s enough lower back support built into the seat; you’re unlikely to suffer from any aches and pains on longer journeys.
The Vauxhall Grandland doesn’t get adjustable lumbar support either, but as in the Sportage, the seat is still relatively comfortable. More of a concern is that side support is woefully lacking; you find yourself having to brace against the central armrest to stop yourself from sliding around on twisty roads.
With its boxy styling, tall side windows and relatively slim front pillars, the Karoq is the easiest of our contenders to see out of in all directions. Forward visibility is fine in the Sportage and Grandland too, but their more rakishly styled rear ends mean there are bigger blindspots to contend with when you’re looking over your shoulder.
Thankfully, the Sportage and Grandland come with front and rear parking sensors to help when negotiating your way into and out of tight spaces, whereas only rear sensors are standard on the Karoq. Particularly nervous parkers will be happy to hear that the Sportage also comes with a rear-view camera to give an unobstructed view behind the car when reversing. This useful feature is an expensive option on the Karoq, but at least Skoda gives you the choice to add it, unlike Vauxhall.
In terms of interior quality, there isn’t a great deal between the Karoq and Sportage. By a small margin, the Karoq feels the plushest, thanks to a greater number of squishy surfaces on top of the dashboard and doors, and even the harder materials lower down are textured in such a way that they don’t feel cheap. The Sportage hits back with an impressive sense of solidity, but the row of blanked-out spaces where switches would go in pricier versions looks a bit downmarket.
The Grandland, meanwhile, is starting to feel its age despite its recent refresh. Gloss black and chrome-effect trim pieces help to add some visual interest, but they feel plasticky to the touch and the controls aren’t particularly tactile. The pull-down storage cubby on the lower right-hand side of the dashboard feels rather cheap, too.
The 8.0in touchscreen in the Sportage is actually the same size as the one in the Karoq, but it looks smaller due to the copious black plastic surrounding it. The graphics aren’t quite as sharp as the Karoq’s and the icons could be larger (the main menu button, for example, can be tricky to hit while driving), but it’s quick to respond to inputs and the menus are fairly intuitive. The fact that it’s mounted high up on the dashboard means it’s easy to read at a glance, too.
Go for SE Drive trim and you’ll get a clear, bright 8.0in touchscreen that responds promptly to inputs. It’s also the most intuitive system to use here, thanks to its logical menus. Our only real complaint is that its menu shortcut buttons are touch-sensitive rather than physical buttons, so they can be difficult to use while driving. More positively, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto phone mirroring is now standard, as are handy tablet cradles in the rear seats.
In Design trim, the Grandland has a 7.0in touchscreen with Bluetooth connectivity as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto phone mirroring, although the one pictured is the 10.0in screen (with built-in sat-nav) that comes with GS Line and Ultimate trims. The screens have reasonably crisp graphics – although not as good as in the Sportage or Karoq – but need to be prodded quite firmly to get a response. Physical shortcut buttons are a welcome touch.
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