Skoda Kamiq long-term test review
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...
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 8810 List price £21,980 Target Price £19,384 Price as tested £27,780 Test economy 44.7mpg Official economy 47.1mpg (combined) Dealer price now £18,655 Private price now £16,583 Trade-in price now £16,236 Running costs (excluding depreciation) Fuel £658
7 September 2020 – Kamiq is a big surprise
When I first got the Skoda Kamiq I wondered if I’d taken too big a leap in my ambitious plans to downsize. Changing from a large, spacious saloon to a small SUV could have been too much of a compromise.
However, I soon discovered that the little Czech motor was a veritable Tardis. The first happy surprise was when it swallowed a non-collapsible 1950s office desk, then I managed to fill it to the gills with massive bags of compost and pots for a garden patio project and to top it all off we (it took three of us) shoehorned a fairly large plum tree in the back with the rear seats folded.
The only time it felt a bit cramped was when we tried to squeeze three adults into the rear seat – the leg room was fine, but they did look a bit like sardines with their shoulders squashed up against each other.
I chose the more powerful 115 version of the 1.0-litre turbocharged engine, rather than the TSI 95, because I wanted a car that would be gutsy enough to cope with Kent’s hills and country lanes – and it didn’t struggle with any of the roads I drove on regularly.
A three-day round trip to Swansea and Bath could have presented a more daunting challenge, but the engine remained quiet and composed on the motorway, thanks to there being a sixth gear (the TSI 95 only has five gears), while road and wind noise weren’t too intrusive. The only unpleasant surprise was how much the wind buffeted the little car around, especially each time we passed an HGV and a side blast hit us.
The Kamiq proved surprisingly practical, though, with deep front door pockets, two good-sized drinks holders and a large cubby in the centre console for me and my passenger. And it was just as well suited to the steep streets of Swansea; as a special challenge I drove it up Constitution Hill, a 300-metre long cobbled road with a one in five (20%) gradient that is the city’s, and one of the UK’s, steepest streets. The Kamiq’s engine had to be worked harder on these roads, though, and that brought fuel economy down to the low 40s from the figure 50mpg plus that it had achieved on the motorway.
Overall, though, the Kamiq has been impressively affordable to buy and own. Its list price of just less than £20,000 is less than you’d pay for a comparable Ford Puma or Volkswagen T-Roc. And even loading the car up with options only took the overall price close to £28,000.
The most expensive add-on was the full LED headlights with dynamic indicators, a cornering function and fog lights. City dwellers might not find this the best way to spend their money, but I live on an unlit country lane that’s often shrouded in darkness and pea-soup like fog, so I found the improved visibility of the upgraded headlights a real boon.
Another pleasant surprise was the innovative nature of Skoda itself. I hadn’t delved into the brand’s history until I owned one of its models, but soon found that it started out as a cycle maker in 1895, and that it’s still involved in cycling as a sponsor of the Tour de France.
I also learnt that it also produces useful and unusual car accessories under its Simply Clever accessory brand. With the current trend away from using public transport, I was impressed to discover that Skoda had designed a fold-up scooter that fits neatly into the spare wheel well in the boot of the Kamiq. I ordered one so that I could travel that ‘last mile’ of many journeys swiftly while maintaining a safe distance from other people.
It’s not been a totally positive ownership experience, though. I had major ongoing issues with the infotainment system, which repeatedly refused to load up and muted itself so I had to endure silent journeys with no traffic information. The problems lessened after a reboot of the system, though, which I carried out under the skilful guidance of a Skoda technician, over the phone so as to comply with social distancing rules.