The entry-level 1.0-litre engine is surprisingly sprightly and has good low-down shove, which is ideal if you spend most of your time in town. However, we would advise buying a gruntier engine if you frequently cover big miles or carry heavy loads.
The 1.6 TDI is more flexible and the ideal choice for company car users looking to keep their monthly tax bill low, but of the diesels it’s the 2.0 TDI that offers the best blend of power and economy.
With 148bhp and 251lb ft of torque, the 2.0-litre unit’s straight-line performance is more than adequate and, thanks to a slick DSG gearbox (a six-speed manual is also available) with well-spaced ratios, the engine is kept suitably quiet at cruising speeds. In fact, if you’re planning on travelling five up with luggage on a regular basis, you’ll appreciate the firepower under the bonnet.
However, we’re most smitten by the 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol. It has an identical 148bhp as the diesel that proves to be a great match with the Karoq, delivering punchy performance in a refined manner. There’s plenty of power from low in the rev range, so you don’t have to work the engine hard and the 0-60mph sprint takes a brisk 8.1sec. That’s enough to whisk you and your family up to motorway speeds on all but the shortest of slip roads.
Our only criticism is that an equivalent Seat Ateca 1.4 TSI 150 feels just a little sprightlier still.
Skoda Karoq ride comfort
Having tried the Karoq even on large 18in and 19in wheels, it still comes up trumps for smoothing the harsh edges off ruts and bumps around town. This clearly distinguishes it from many rivals, most noticeably the sportier and therefore firmer-riding Ateca and the less composed Peugeot 3008.
Up your speed on the motorway and the Karoq's ride gets even better, making it an extremely gentle companion on a long trip.
Skoda Karoq handling
While the Karoq sits on the same platform as the Ateca and Volkswagen Tiguan, Skoda has clearly worked hard to give the Karoq its own character; it’s squarely in the middle of the comfort spectrum. Therefore, the Karoq exhibits more body roll in corners than the driver-focused Ateca, but it’s still more agile than the longer and heavier Tiguan.
Like its relatives, the Karoq’s steering has a natural-feeling, progressive weight and a fine level of accuracy that lets you swoop from corner to corner with sublime ease. And with plenty of grip at your disposal, you won’t lack any confidence as you do. Yet, admirable as it is, there’s no doubting that those who prefer a little more on-the-limit cornering prowess will find the Ateca a noticeably sharper drive.
Don’t forget that if you need your SUV to do more than just look the part, four-wheel drive is available. Mind you, while this might help you across a boggy field, don’t think of the Karoq as the tool to scale Snowdon – it isn't.
Skoda Karoq refinement
Let’s start with the drivetrain – the engines and gearboxes. The diesels are a little grumbly under hard acceleration, while the 1.0-litre petrol thrums away (but not unpleasantly) if you give it some stick. On balance, we’d say the 1.5 petrol offers the smoothest progress of all, although even this screams a little at the top of its rev range. None of the Karoq's rivals are significantly better, though.
The manual gearbox is light and easy to use, as is the clutch. If you opt for one of the automatic models, these change smoothly between each gear but can be jerky from a standstill – a bit of nuisance when parking or in stop-start traffic.
Despite being very similar mechanically, the Karoq does lose out to the Ateca when it comes to suspension noise, with a background boom as it deals with bumps in the road, as well as a little more tyre and wind noise as well. Mind you, none of this is anywhere near extreme enough to nark you.