Skoda Kamiq long-term test: report 1

The Kamiq is Skoda's smallest SUV, but is it big and brawny enough to cope with family life? We’ve added one to our long-term test fleet to find out...

Skoda Kamiq front cornering - red 69-plate car

The car Skoda Kamiq 1.0 TSI 115 SE L Run by Claire Evans, consumer editor

Why it’s here The Kamiq is our favourite small SUV for less than £20,000, but how will it cope as a long-distance commuter car and weekend family wheels? We have four months to find out 

Needs to Prove that you don’t have to have deep pockets to be able to buy a good small SUV

Mileage 3804 List price £21,980 Target Price £19,384 Price as tested £27,780 Test economy 44.5mpg Official economy 47.1mpg Options fitted LED headlights (£1050), exclusive paint colour (£975), panoramic sunroof (£935), Skoda sound system (£525), 18in Vega Aero alloy wheels (£520), Sport Chassis Control (£495), front and rear parking sensors (£360), rear-view parking camera (£300), high beam control (£225), keyless entry and stop/start (£215), space-saver spare wheel (£150), silver haptic decorative insert (£50)

21 February 2020 – Small and perfectly formed? 

The Skoda Kamiq is big by small SUV standards, so it’s the logical choice for someone like me who’s looking to downsize without abandoning the practicality of a larger vehicle. Although it’s based on the same underpinnings and shares its oily bits with the Seat Arona and Volkswagen T-Cross, the Kamiq’s front and rear wheels are farther apart than the VW’s, so there’s more room inside. 

The fact that it’s affordable to buy and run adds to its appeal for me, too. With a 90-mile daily commute, my driving could easily become extremely costly, and that’s why I’m keen to minimise my outgoings without compromising too much on space. 

Skoda Kamiq long termer

The Kamiq can be had with either a 94bhp or 113bhp 1.0-litre engine; I chose the larger of the two because I do a lot of motorway miles and live at the top of a stonking great hill. I’m glad I did, because it comes with a six-speed manual gearbox instead of a five-speeder, and that means the revs stay low at motorway speeds, making my commute as quiet and relaxing as morning rush hour on the M25 can be. 

The little three-cylinder turbo engine copes easily with motorway driving and only struggles when I occasionally fill it with five adults and ask it to scale the North Downs. I have to quickly switch into a lower gear, keep the revs up and ignore the squeals of stress coming from the engine. 

It’s a similar situation with interior space. There's plenty of room for me and a couple of passengers, and with the rear seatbacks folded flat, the load space is impressively large. On a recent garden centre trip, I managed to squeeze in six privet bushes, six large bags of topsoil and an assortment of spring flowers – impressive for a car that fundamentally isn't that much larger than a Volkswagen Polo in terms of its footprint. 

Skoda Kamiq long termer

However, when my teenage daughter and her grandparents squeezed into the back seats for a trip to the local cinema, they were so tightly crammed in that they looked like sardines in a tin. While leg room is good for a small SUV, shoulder room isn't adequate for three adults; if we all need to go on longer journeys in future, I think we’ll take two cars. 

And that will mean I can enjoy the car’s pretty decent handling. Although it hasn't quite got the handling finesse of the Ford Puma, it’s still able to put a smile on my face on a twisty road. 

In SE L trim, the Kamiq comes with a list of standard kit longer than my arm, including a 9.2in infotainment touchscreen with sat-nav, a digital instrument panel, a driver fatigue sensor, dual-zone climate control, blindspot monitors and lane-keeping assistance.

I have to admit that I’ve added rather a lot of options that kit list, but I’m impressed with most of them. The biggest splurge was on LED headlights with adaptive light modes plus dynamic cornering and indicators – something that’s only been available on larger luxury models in the past. Living on an unlit country road, especially in the recent bad weather, I really appreciate the way the spread of light and reach from the headlights alters depending on the type of road and driving conditions. It’s great to have automatic headlights that dip at appropriate times so they don’t dazzle oncoming drivers, too; this is something I’ve found poor in pricier cars. 

Red Velvet metallic paint may be a pricey add-on, but I think it's worthwhile, because it helps the Kamiq to stand out from the masses of grey motors on our roads. Another expensive but desirable option is the panoramic sunroof, which really brightens up the interior, especially for rear seat passengers. And although I resent having to pay for a spare wheel, I was pleased that I could add a space-saver on the Kamiq. 

 I also love all the traditional Skoda add-ons; my car has an umbrella in the driver’s door, an ice scraper in the fuel filler cap and a removable, rechargeable LED torch in the boot.

Skoda Kamiq long termer

It’s not all been plain sailing with the Kamiq, though. The infotainment system has had some issues. It’s failed to load up properly a couple of times, resulting in silent drives home with no music or traffic information. It has also loaded up but had no sound, and recently the Apple CarPlay mobile phone connectivity has intermittently stopped working. These may seem like minor niggles, but when you regularly spend two or three hours a day in the car, it's aggravating. 

A software update icon popped up on the screen last night, so I’ll do the update and see if that resolves the problems. 

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