Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
If you're happy with modest, but still perfectly exploitable levels of zip (ie, 0-62mph in around eleven seconds) then we recommend the 94bhp 1.0-litre petrol (badged 1.0 TSI 95). You'll also find this engine in the Seat Arona and Volkswagen T-Cross, and it's just the ticket for most journeys; okay, it needs revving fairly hard if you want to get up to motorway speeds quickly, but once you’re rolling there’s a surprising amount of low-down shove, which means you're not changing up and down through the five-speed manual gearbox too often.
The more powerful 113bhp version (badged 1.0 TSI 115) shaves just over a second off the official 0-62mph time (to circa ten seconds) and gains you a sixth gear for more relaxed motorway cruising. It’s well worth considering, especially if you plan to regularly carry several passengers around, spend a lot of time on the motorway, or you live in a hilly area, but the equivalent mild-hybrid in the Ford Puma 1.0 Ecoboost (mHEV) 125 is stronger.
For a truly enlivening experience, try the 148bhp 1.5-litre petrol (1.5 TSI 150). With 0-62mph over in just 8.3sec, it offers the kind of pace to match the more powerful Puma 1.0 Ecoboost (mHEV) 155. The 1.6 TDI 115 diesel has only adequate straight-line pace but is flexible at low revs, which is useful if you're towing a trailer or caravan. If you want the option of an automatic gearbox, you’ll need the 1.0 TSI 115, 1.5 TSI 150, or the 1.6 TDI diesel.
Suspension and ride comfort
The Kamiq is one of the best-riding cars in the Small SUV class. On their standard suspension setups, only the compliant Volkswagen T-Roc gets anywhere near the Kamiq's canny knack of smothering potholes and ridges around town, or its soothing motorway manners. The Volkswagen T-Cross isn't far behind, it has to be said, and the Ford Puma is firmer but better tied down over undulating country roads. Meanwhile, the Nissan Juke is generally more agitated over all surfaces.
You can add optional Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) – adaptive suspension – for the ability to stiffen or soften the suspension by pressing a button. Comfort mode proves even more cosseting, but, bearing in mind the cost to upgrade and how good the standard suspension is, it's by no means essential.
The name Kamiq means ‘something that fits perfectly’ in the language of the Inuit people of Canada and Greenland, and Skoda says that’s because this small SUV is a perfect fit for the city. We suspect there's a degree of post-rationalisation going on there, but in many respects, the Kamiq is very well suited to the urban hustle and bustle.
It has a tighter turning circle than most rivals, and light, accurate steering, which makes negotiating narrow streets or winding your way up a multi-storey car park a breeze. The Kamiq doesn't sway around as much as the taller T-Roc or T-Cross through faster corners, and feels just as agile as a Seat Arona. But for a small SUV that's genuinely fun to drive, get yourself behind the wheel of a Ford Puma.
Noise and vibration
The Kamiq is a doddle to drive smoothly, thanks to its sweet manual gearshift and positive clutch and brake pedal. The automatic gearbox is a mite jerky if you're edging in and out of a parking space, but changes calmly through its gears.
In gentle driving, the 1.0 TSI 95 and 115 petrol engines are pretty smooth and emit a thrummy engine note that sits obediently in the background. Work them harder, though, and you'll feel a few vibrations filtering up through the steering wheel and pedals. The 1.6 TDI 115 diesel makes itself known only when revved out, while the 1.5 TSI 150 is the smoothest engine in the range.
As is the case in a Ford Puma, you'll hear a little bit of wind noise at fast motorway speeds, a fair degree of road noise and quite a few twangs from the suspension over bumps – the latter more noticeable at lower speeds. Overall, the Kamiq is fractionally noisier than the VW T-Cross, but if you crave peace and quiet on longer trips, we recommend the hushed T-Roc.
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