Skoda Karoq review

Category: Small SUV

A Karoq is a very good family SUV, offering comfort and practicality at a competitive price

Skoda Karoq front cornering
  • Skoda Karoq front cornering
  • Skoda Karoq rear cornering
  • Skoda Karoq interior dashboard
  • Skoda Karoq boot open
  • Skoda Karoq interior driver display
  • Skoda Karoq right driving
  • Skoda Karoq front cornering
  • Skoda Karoq rear cornering
  • Skoda Karoq front right static
  • Skoda Karoq grille detail
  • Skoda Karoq alloy wheel detail
  • Skoda Karoq roof bars detail
  • Skoda Karoq rear lights detail
  • Skoda Karoq interior front seats
  • Skoda Karoq interior back seats
  • Skoda Karoq interior detail
  • Skoda Karoq infotainment touchscreen
  • Skoda Karoq interior air-con controls
  • Skoda Karoq interior detail
  • Skoda Karoq interior detail
  • Skoda Karoq front cornering
  • Skoda Karoq rear cornering
  • Skoda Karoq interior dashboard
  • Skoda Karoq boot open
  • Skoda Karoq interior driver display
  • Skoda Karoq right driving
  • Skoda Karoq front cornering
  • Skoda Karoq rear cornering
  • Skoda Karoq front right static
  • Skoda Karoq grille detail
  • Skoda Karoq alloy wheel detail
  • Skoda Karoq roof bars detail
  • Skoda Karoq rear lights detail
  • Skoda Karoq interior front seats
  • Skoda Karoq interior back seats
  • Skoda Karoq interior detail
  • Skoda Karoq infotainment touchscreen
  • Skoda Karoq interior air-con controls
  • Skoda Karoq interior detail
  • Skoda Karoq interior detail
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Introduction

What Car? says...

Have you noticed how Skoda names its SUVs with the same first and last letters to group them into a family? As part of that theme, we’ve got the Skoda Karoq – which sits between the Kamiq and the Kodiaq in the Czech brand’s line-up.

The Karoq is Skoda’s family SUV, so it's in the same class as the ever-popular Nissan Qashqai. On the outside, it looks every inch the modern Skoda, but under the skin it shares an awful lot of mechanicals with the Seat Ateca and VW Tiguan – both of which are made by brands that, like Skoda, are part of the VW Group.

To make sure the Karoq doesn’t tread on any of its cousins' toes, it’s slightly smaller than the Tiguan, and is designed to be less sporty but more comfortable and practical than the Ateca, creating its own unique identity and place in the world.

The Karoq has been kept up to date since its launch, with slimmer LED headlights and tail-lights, a more aerodynamic bodykit and increased safety tech appearing over time.

Is that enough to keep it competitive with the best family SUVs? Read on to find out how we rate the Skoda Karoq in all the important areas...


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Overview

The Skoda Karoq is a top-drawer family SUV, perfectly mixing an impressive interior, good driving characteristics and a comfortable ride with clever seating options, a big boot and plenty of space for passengers. The entry-level 1.0 TSI 116 petrol engine is a good option to keep costs down, but we’d pay a little extra and go for the more powerful 1.5-litre petrol.

  • Good to drive
  • Excellent interior space
  • Smart and sturdy-feeling interior
  • Seat Ateca is more fun to drive
  • VarioFlex seats no longer standard
  • No hybrid options
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Our Pick

OurPicksRRP £32,925
Skoda Karoq 1.5 TSI SE L 5dr review
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox

The Skoda Karoq's entry-level 1.0 TSI 116 petrol engine has decent low-rev shove and is fine if you spend most of your time in town.

Even so, our pick of the range is the more powerful 1.5 TSI 150 because its 148bhp petrol engine is better at dealing with heavier loads, steep hills and faster roads. What’s more, it has even greater low-rev urgency than the 1.0 TSI, officially sprinting from 0-60mph in just under 9.0 seconds.

At the top of the range is the 2.0 TSI 190 petrol, which gets four-wheel drive and is available only in Sportline trim. It's easily the fastest Karoq, with 0-62mph taking just 7.0 seconds, but it's rather pricey compared with our favourite Karoq.

There are two 2.0-litre diesels, which come with 114bhp (2.0 TDI 116) and 148bhp (2.0 TDI 150). Both are gutsy from low revs, although the TDI 116 takes its time to get up to motorway speeds. The TDI 150 is nearly as quick as the 1.5 TSI 150 petrol and is available with optional four-wheel drive for added traction.

Suspension and ride comfort

The Karoq comes up trumps when it comes to smoothing the harsh edges off ruts and bumps around town. The ride gets even better on motorways, making it a soothing companion on long journeys. 

Like the similarly plush Kia Sportage it upstages the firmer-riding Seat Ateca and the bouncier Peugeot 3008 for comfort. Granted, the Range Rover Evoque and Volvo XC40 are comfier still, but they also have much bigger price tags.

Skoda Karoq image
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The TSI 150 and 190, and the TDI 150 are available with the optional Performance Package, which introduces Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC). That allows you to stiffen or soften the suspension depending on whether you’re cruising or cornering hard. It makes the Karoq even more cushioned in Comfort mode, but the car rides so well without DCC that we don’t feel it’s worth the extra cost.

Skoda Karoq rear cornering

Handling

The Karoq sits on the same underpinnings as the Ateca and the VW Tiguan but Skoda has clearly worked hard to give it its own character, and it falls squarely between comfort and sportiness. There's more body roll in corners than in the driver-focused Ateca, but the Karoq is just as agile as the longer, heavier Tiguan.

Compared with the Sportage and the Ateca its steering is rather light, but it has a fine level of accuracy that lets you glide from corner to corner with ease. With plenty of grip at your disposal, you won’t lack any confidence as you do so. 

Don’t forget that if you need your family SUV to do more than just look the part, four-wheel drive is available if you go for the top-spec Sportline trim and the most powerful engine. Mind you, while it might help you across a muddy field, don’t think of the Karoq as a cheap alternative to a hardcore off-roader like the Land Rover Defender – it definitely isn't.

Noise and vibration

Let’s start with the engines and gearboxes. The diesels are a bit grumbly under hard acceleration, while the 1.0-litre petrol thrums away noticeably, although not unpleasantly, if you give it some stick.

On balance, we’d say the 1.5 petrol engine offers the smoothest progress of all, although even that shouts quite loudly when you put it under pressure. None of the Karoq's rivals are significantly better though – unless you start considering near-silent all-electric alternatives such as the MG ZS EV and Kia Niro EV.

The manual gearbox is light and easy to use, as is the clutch. If you opt for one of the automatic models, you'll find that they change gear smoothly but can be a bit jerky when pulling away from a standstill – a bit of a nuisance when parking or in stop-start traffic.

The Karoq does generate more suspension noise than the Ateca and Tiguan, even though they're very similar mechanically. There's a background boom as it deals with bumps in the road, as well as a little more tyre and wind noise. Mind you, none of this is extreme enough to really nark you. For those with particularly sensitive ears, the Mazda CX-30 is a quieter companion.

“You can add extra weight to the steering on most models, just not on the entry-level car. I found that a shame, because the Kia Sportage’s steering has a little more heft, which boosts confidence.” – Neil Winn, Deputy Reviews Editor

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

Driving position and dashboard

You shouldn't have any problems getting comfortable in the Skoda Karoq, whatever your size or shape. All versions have front seat height and lumbar adjustment, plus there's plenty of up-and-down and in-and-out steering wheel movement.

You’ll also enjoy good seat support and a relatively high driving position – although the Karoq is no skyscraping Range Rover. Even so, you sit appreciably higher up than you do in the Mazda CX-30, let alone in conventional family hatchbacks.

Life is made easier still by well-sited, sensibly grouped buttons and switches on the dashboard, and the crisp digital instrument cluster. We like the wealth of information and the level of customisation that the 10.25in Virtual Cockpit allows, including showing a fullscreen map.

Visibility, parking sensors and cameras

The Karoq is one of the easiest family SUVs to see out of because it combines a raised driving position with narrow windscreen pillars and big side windows. Pulling out of T-junctions, manoeuvring around multi-storey car parks and changing lanes on a motorway are a breeze.

It also scores much better than the Kia Sportage, Peugeot 3008 and Vauxhall Grandland when it comes to over-the-shoulder vision. That’s thanks to its relatively slim rear pillars – a rare treat these days.

As a back-up, all models have rear parking sensors, with SE L models and above gaining front sensors and a rear-view camera (which are also available as part of a fairly expensive Parking Package on entry-level SE Drive models). All models get LED headlights for better visibility at night.

Skoda Karoq interior dashboard

Sat nav and infotainment

Regardless of trim level, the Karoq comes with an 8.0in touchscreen infotainment system as standard. It gives you clear graphics, has a simple operating system, and is one of the best touchscreens in the class. 

You also get sat-nav, DAB radio, Bluetooth, Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay (so you can use your smartphone apps on the screen) as standard, along with two USB-C ports in the front centre console.

A bigger 9.2in Columbus touchscreen is available as an expensive option on SE L and SportLine models. While the screen resolution is impressive and the larger size makes it easier to hit the on-screen buttons, we’re not sure it’s worth the extra cash.

Quality

The Karoq's design team – determined to ensure that it has a distinct Skoda brand identity – has come up with an interior look that is surprisingly far removed from those of the Seat Ateca and VW Tiguan.

Its modern-looking dashboard borrows styling cues from the bigger Skoda Kodiaq and a few metal-effect and piano-black trims add a touch of class to finish it off. You’ll find plenty of squishy surfaces on top of the dashboard and doors, and even the harder materials lower down are textured so they don't feel cheap.

It's not just the finish that’s good – everything feels solidly screwed together, suggesting that the Karoq will easily shrug off the rigours of family life. That said, it doesn’t have the visual wow factor of the Peugeot 3008 inside or the sense of premium luxury the Mazda CX-30 imparts.

“The Karoq is virtually the same as the premium Q3 in terms of interior build quality. That surprised me, given the price difference.” – Lawrence Cheung, New Cars Editor

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

Front space

It’s unlikely that anyone will get into the front of the Skoda Karoq and start grumbling about a lack of space. It’s possible to slide the seats back a good amount to accommodate long legs, while those tall in the body will find the seat drops low enough to give plenty of head room.

The only caveat (and it’s a slight one) is that the panoramic sunroof (standard on Sportline and optional on lesser trims) nabs a bit of ceiling height.

There are lots of storage spaces dotted around, including big door bins and cubbies around the central dashboard area.

Rear space

The Karoq has large rear door openings that make fitting a child seat relatively painless. There’s plenty of leg room for adults, so even six-footers won’t find their knees pressed up against the front seatbacks. If you require even more leg room, take a look at the limo-like Kia Sportage. 

Head room is excellent too. The Karoq's ceiling is higher than in the Nissan Qashqai and similar to that of the Sportage and VW Tiguan. As in the front, the panoramic roof fitted to some versions does reduce head room a little, but not by enough to bother six-footers.

What about carrying three in the rear seats? Well, there’s a high central floor hump to clamber over and, once in place, the middle passenger will feel a little squished. We wouldn’t recommend a long trip with three adults sitting in the back. The Sportage is better in this respect thanks to its wider interior.

Skoda Karoq boot open

Seat folding and flexibility

This is an area where the Karoq wipes the floor with its rivals – even closely related ones such as the Seat Ateca.

That is, providing you go for the SE and SE L’s optional VarioFlex seats, which do all sorts of clever things. For a start, the seatbacks are split fairly evenly into three separate sections rather than the usual 60/40. That offers much more flexibility if you want to carry long loads as well as passengers.

That’s not all – the seats also recline, and slide back and forth independently. You can even remove all three rear seats from the car, freeing up more space (the only trouble is that they're rather bulky and heavy). Without VarioFlex seats, the rear bench is split 60/40 and the sections don’t slide or recline, unlike with the Sportage's 40/20/40 split bench.

Boot space

The Karoq’s boot gives you 521 litres of space, or up to 588 litres in versions with VarioFlex seats. That's one of the biggest storage volumes in the family SUV class.

The closely related Ateca managed to swallow eight carry-on suitcases below its parcel shelf, while the Karoq opened wide and gulped down nine. It's worth noting, though, that four-wheel drive models have a slightly smaller boot.

You can add a height-adjustable boot floor as an option, allowing you to create a flat, extended load bay with no loading lip when the rear seats are folded down. Without it, the step up to the rear seats is sizeable.

All versions of the Karoq have a range of hooks, trays and other clever features that should stop your shopping sloshing around the boot when you’re driving home from the supermarket.

“Unlike the Audi Q3, the Karoq’s rear seats don’t slide, but it still had enough space for a couple of my rugby-playing friends to sit in comfort.” – Stuart Milne, Digital Editor

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2

In entry-level form, the Skoda Karoq costs a similar amount to a Visia spec Nissan Qashqai – although there’s a significant walk-up in price for that rival if you want to have a car with some basic luxuries, such as alloy wheels and climate control.

The rest of the Karoq range is really good value considering the spec, and undercuts the equivalent Qashqai and Kia Sportage by a reasonable margin.

Running costs, including insurance and servicing, are very much in line with the Seat Ateca, although predicted resale values suggest that the Karoq will lose you a little less money in depreciation over three years. Indeed, the Karoq is predicted to lose its value at about the same rate as the Qashqai, helping to keep PCP finance rates competitive. You can check the best prices using our New Car Deals pages.

Officially, the entry-level 1.0 TSI 116 can manage up to 47.9mpg and, surprisingly, the 2.0-litre diesel isn’t that much more efficient, making it harder to recommend given that it also costs more. Entry-level versions of the Sportage and Qashqai promise around 44mpg, but they both have hybrid engine options, which are much better if efficiency is important.

Company car drivers looking to minimise their benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax payments will be better off with the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) Sportage.

Equipment, options and extras

The Karoq's SE Drive trim is generously equipped, with 17in alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, automatic wipers, privacy glass, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and cruise control. Indeed, it’s highly recommendable if you’re on a budget, especially if you add the optional VarioFlex rear seats.

If you can, we’d spend a bit more and go for the mid-spec SE L trim. That trim adds a couple of extra niceties, including 18in wheels, heated front seats and steering wheel, heated windscreen washers, keyless entry and start, and extra parking aids. 

Top-spec Sportline trim, meanwhile, adds 19in wheels, sports front seats, matrix LED headlights, an electrically-operated boot lid and bespoke styling. It costs a fair bit more though, and comes with the head room-limiting panoramic roof.

Skoda Karoq interior driver display

Reliability

The Karoq had mixed results in the family SUV class of our 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey. The petrol versions performed well, placing in the top third, but the diesel came bottom out of 34 models. 

As a brand, Skoda claimed 16th place out of 32 car makers, putting it above Ford, Seat, Nissan, Peugeot and VW, but below Kia in eighth place.

You get a par-for-the-course three-year/60,000-mile warranty as standard, which you can extend up to five years or 100,000 miles for a reasonable fee. Hyundai and Kia match or beat that extended warranty time period as standard.

Safety and security

When it was tested by the safety experts at Euro NCAP the Karoq scored the full five stars. The thing is, that was back in 2017 and the rating has since expired. 

Even so, while the tests have become more stringent since then, the Karoq should still be a very safe car. It comes with plenty of standard safety equipment, including automatic emergency braking (AEB), a drowsiness monitor, lane assist and traffic-sign assist. 

If you go for SE L or Sportline trim, you can also add the Travel Assist package option, which includes adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist with traffic jam assist and emergency braking for adaptive cruise control. Blind-spot monitoring is reserved for the Sportline’s optional Travel Assist Plus package.

“The Karoq’s option list is far more extensive than for the Kia Sportage or Vauxhall Grandland. I found that while that makes it easier to get precisely what you want, it all can be a bit confusing.” – Claire Evans, Consumer Editor


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FAQs

  • It hasn't. In fact, Skoda has just given the Karoq a light mid-life facelift, which brings some new standard equipment, updated styling and a more powerful entry-level engine.

  • While both cars are classed as family SUVs, the VW Tiguan is slightly larger than the Karoq in every way.

  • Yes, the Karoq is officially bigger in every dimension than the VW T-Roc. The Karoq is a family SUV while the T-Roc is in the small SUV sector.

At a glance
New car deals
Save up to £2,759
Target Price from £27,500
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From £20,999
RRP price range £29,575 - £42,425
Number of trims (see all)3
Number of engines (see all)4
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)petrol, diesel
MPG range across all versions 36.8 - 48.9
Available doors options 5
Warranty 3 years / 60000 miles
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £1,755 / £2,967
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £3,510 / £5,935
Available colours