What Car? says...
Have you noticed how some manufacturers are naming their individual models with the same first and last letters, in order to group them into a family? That’s why we’ve got the Skoda Karoq, which sits between the smaller Kamiq and larger Kodiaq in the Czech brand’s SUV line-up.
The Karoq is, in essence, Skoda’s answer to the Kia Sportage, Nissan Qashqai, Peugeot 3008, Seat Ateca and VW Tiguan. On the outside, it looks every inch the modern Skoda but under its skin it shares an awful lot of mechanicals with the Ateca and Tiguan – both of which are made by brands that, like Skoda, are part of the VW Group.
However, 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 also more comfortable and practical than the Ateca, creating its own unique identity and place in the world.
It offers plenty of choice, too. There's a range of petrol and diesel engines, and you can choose between front and four-wheel drive. You can change gear yourself with a manual gearbox or have a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic do it for you. Oh, and there's a number of trim levels to choose from, too.
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. Over the next few pages, we’ll tell you everything you need to know, and investigate how the Skoda Karoq compares with the best family SUVs available.
And remember: whichever new car you end up deciding to buy, don’t forget to check out the free What Car? New Car Deals service to find out how much you could save on the brochure price of hundreds of new cars and SUVs. There are some great new family SUV deals.
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 110 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 9.0sec.
At the top of the range is the 2.0 TSI 190 petrol, which gets four-wheel drive as standard and is available only in Sportline trim. It's easily the fastest Karoq, with 0-62mph taking just 7.0 seconds, but is rather pricey compared with our favourite Karoq.
There’s also a pair of 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 lesser version takes its time to get up to motorway speeds. The TDI 150 is very 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 come with much bigger price tags.
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.
The Karoq sits on the same underpinnings as the Ateca and VW Tiguan, but Skoda has clearly worked hard to give the Karoq 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 avoid the entry-level SE Drive trim. 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 or 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.
Strengths Gutsy engines; composed handling; ride is very comfortable
Weaknesses Not as sporty as a Seat Ateca; diesels can be grumbly
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 than you do in the Mazda CX-30, let alone in conventional 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 that the optional (as part of the Amundsen Package Plus) Virtual Cockpit can show, including a fullscreen map, but while it’s fully customisable, it's not really any easier to read than traditional dials.
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 heavily over 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 (these are available as part of a fairly expensive Parking Package on entry-level SE Drive models). All models get standard-fit LED headlights for better visibility at night.
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.
If you want something a little fancier, a bigger 9.2in Columbus touchscreen is available as an expensive option on SE L and SportLine models. On top of the upgraded screen, speccing that option will also add the digital dials that we’ve previously mentioned and wireless phone-charging into the mix.
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 in such a way that 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 3008 inside, nor quite the sense of premium luxury that the Mazda CX-30 imparts.
Strengths Loads of adjustment; excellent all-round visibility; one of the best touchscreen infotainment systems
Weaknesses Design is a little drab; digital instruments cost extra
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
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.
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 legroom, 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.
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.
The VarioFlex seats fitted as standard to SE L trim (and optional on SE Drive trim) 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 of one another. 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.
The Karoq’s boot is one of the biggest 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 than front-wheel drive models.
The only mild annoyance is that you can’t specify a height-adjustable boot floor 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. That's not a problem in the Sportage, which has a standard-fit false boot floor.
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.
Strengths Generous passenger space, even for six-footers; lots of handy storage cubbies; huge, well-shaped boot
Weaknesses Clever VarioFlex seats aren't standard across the range; you can't have a height-adjustable boot floor
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 Visa 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. The Sportage and Qashqai have similar resale values to the Karoq. PCP car finance deals are usually very competitive thanks to generous deposit contributions from Skoda. You can find the latest prices on our New Car Deals pages.
The entry-level 1.0 TSI 110 engine managed a respectable 40.6mpg on our real-world test loop, making the larger 1.6-litre petrol engine in the similarly priced Sportage look a little thirsty (it returned 36.1mpg on the same test route). The 2.0-litre diesel isn't that much more efficient and costs more to buy, so it's harder to recommend. There are currently no plans to produce a hybrid Karoq, so if you want a family SUV with a low company car tax rate, we’d recommend you take a look at 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 lights and wipers, privacy glass, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, cruise control and rear parking sensors. It's highly recommendable if you’re on a budget.
For a bit more kit, our favourite SE L trim comes with 18in alloy wheels and some good-to-have extras, including the very handy VarioFlex rear seats, keyless entry and start, drive mode select, plus all-round parking sensors and a rear-view camera.
With Sportline trim, you’re mainly paying for a sportier look, with its special black 18in wheels and sports seats. And you also end up with compromised head room with its panoramic roof.
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
Although the safety tests are more exacting today, the Karoq is still a very safe car. Some points to note are that it markedly outscored the 3008 for adult protection, although the 3008 and Ateca turn the tables when it comes to child occupancy protection – the Karoq wasn’t brilliant at protecting small children. One of the best performers under the latest testing protocol is the Sportage.
If you select the Travel Assist package option, you get adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assistance and traffic-sign recognition. What you won’t see on that list, however, is blind-spot monitoring – that’s reserved for the pricier Travel Assist Plus package only available with Sportline trim. As part of a mid-life facelift, Skoda made its eCall service free for 10 years. That alerts the emergency services automatically if you're involved in an accident.
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Strengths Competitively priced; holds its value well; above average reliability
Weaknesses No hybrid or electric options to bring down company car tax bills; mediocre warranty
Yes, we think it's a very good value family SUV especially in entry-level 1.0 110 SE Drive form. We recommend the 1.5 TSI EVO petrol engine, though, for its efficiency and extra power, and mid-ranking SE L for its high equipment levels and flexible seating.
While you can get some luxury SUV features on the Karoq, it is fundamentally a family-orientated vehicle designed for maximum practicality as opposed to all-out luxury.
|RRP price range||£27,470 - £40,185|
|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||35 - 49.2|
|Available doors options||5|
|Warranty||2 years / 60000 miles|
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)||£1,630 / £2,837|
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)||£3,259 / £5,674|