- Even With Our Model Lacking 4 Wheel Drive, the Karoq Still Blends Right in With the Yorkshire Countryside...

Can The 2021 Skoda Karoq Stand Out in a Crowded Family SUV Market? {Review}

Read on to see how I rate our newest car in the family by age against its rivals...

8w ago
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As SUV's continue to be the trending body style across much of Europe, automotive manufactures are finding it increasingly difficult to leave their mark in this bustling class. Now before we assess the present, let's take a trip back to 2009 when Skoda launched their first mainstream SUV- the Yeti. Whilst being generally being praised among automotive journalists, the Yeti failed to make a big enough dent in the rapidly expanding family SUV sector leading to the car's discontinuation in 2017. After the apparent success of Skoda's Kodiaq large SUV in the previous year, they launched the Karoq in October 2017 to try and tempt buyers away from the likes of the Kia Sportage and Ford Kuga. Fast forward to today, the Karoq is quite a popular choice for budget buyers in this class and apart from a minor facelift in 2020, has remained identical to when it was launched nearly 4 years ago....

Ride, Handling and Engines:

The Karoq comes ready to face the fierce mid-size SUV competition in the UK with a range of engine and gearbox combinations to offer. In simple terms, there are 2 petrols, a 1.0 litre and a 1.5 litre, producing 110bhp and 150bhp respectively; 2 diesels are also on offer- both 2.0 litres generating 116bhp and 150bhp respectively. Both the diesels can be optioned with an automatic gearbox- the 150bhp unit is also available with 4 wheel drive. In terms of the petrols, only the 1.5 litre can be paired with the automatic gearbox. Our car is fitted with the manual gearbox and the 1.5 litre petrol engine with 150bhp, getting you to 0-60mph in a fairly impressive 8.7 seconds. Move over to specs and it's a little more simple; the range kicks off with the decently equipped SE after which comes the SE Drive, SE L (our car's trim), Sportline and Edition trim levels. The 1.5 litre turbocharged petrol engine feels great around town, having an ample amount of power to pull well from low revs and always feeling potent enough to whip around slow moving traffic. What's more, the 6 speed manual gearbox is slick to operate, which results in the Karoq feeling especially nimble for a car of this class. Launch it into a twisty road and the Karoq starts to feel a little out of its depth; although the body roll in corners is not noticeably more than in similarly sized vehicles, it is enough to make you think twice about plunging your car around a tight bend. Otherwise, the Karoq's suspension is excellently tuned and manages bumps and ruts in the road very well. Accelerate onto a motorway and you'll experience no hesitation in the engine and the car does generally feel more than capable. However, if you do many miles, you'll want one of the 2.0 litre diesels as our car only scores in the early 40's in terms of MPG.

The front of the Karoq is similar to many current Skoda's so looks handsome but not exactly stunning; there is also an array of fake vents, which will be a huge blow to any enthusiastic automotive journalist...

The front of the Karoq is similar to many current Skoda's so looks handsome but not exactly stunning; there is also an array of fake vents, which will be a huge blow to any enthusiastic automotive journalist...

So, What's it Like Up Front?

Well, as standard, the Karoq comes equipped with an 8 inch (9.2 inch on Edition cars) touchscreen, which dominates the centre of the dashboard. Our came fitted with onboard satnav (not standard with SE cars) as well as Apple Car Play and Android Auto, although there is nothing majorly wrong with Skoda's navigation system, it can be a little sluggish and not so user friendly. On the plus side, the screen is positioned up high in the driver's line of site so it's really easy to use on the move and the climate controls are underneath the system on a separate module of buttons. Skoda also offers a digital driver's display on SE L cars and above; ours does not have this fitted but from previous experience, this is a very useful option. Although some SUVs of this size don't sit much higher up than their hatchback counterparts, the Karoq has a very high driving position which is great for all around view and gives you a secure feeling, whether you're driving or riding. Start having a poke around at the materials and it's Volkswagen Group business as usual, which means lovely soft touch plastics on top of the dash, but some ghastly, scratchy plastics lower down. What's not Volkswagen Group business as usual though is the build quality of the cabin; aspects of the interior seem less solidly put together than some previous generation Skoda cars such as the 3rd generation Octavia, however, it's acceptable and still better than many rivals such as the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. One thing that the Karoq is better than acceptable on though, is the adjustment in the front seats. As well as having the normal recline and slide features, the seats also have height adjustment and lumbar support to help support the front occupants on longer journeys. Head and leg room is plentiful up front, as you would expect from a car of this size so whether you are tall or small, you will be able to get comfy in the front of the Karoq. Furthermore, besides the amount of room and adjustability there is on offer, the seats equipped on SE L cars and above are of a lovely shape and are part leather and part alcantara; this makes those longer journeys even more relaxing.

Our Karoq comes with the all-satisfying electric folding mirrors...

Our Karoq comes with the all-satisfying electric folding mirrors...

And in the Rear and Boot?

You'll be pleased to hear that in the rear, the Karoq also ticks all the boxes in terms of practicality. Once again, there is leg room for days and head room is class leading, as there is not too much of a sloping roofline, unlike many cars in this class. In addition, the rear seats can also recline and slide forwards and backwards, which is extrememly useful for carrying bulky items in the boot or having a snooze on those long summer road trips. However, what is a little odd, is that a built in centre armrest is optional on lower and midrange trims, so SE L buyers have to do with a folding down middle seat with a couple of cup holders instead. Now while this isn't a deal-breaker, it makes the Karoq feel a little less premium in this area than some hatchbacks, such as Skoda's own Octavia and other family SUVs like the Peugeot 3008. What the Karoq does have in the rear, which partly makes up for this, is a pair of fold-down tables on the back of each front seat; this is a great feature and something which not many SUVs of this size offer. The boot can hold a maximum of 588 litres with the rear seats slid fully forward, which is bigger than the Nissan Qashqai or the Peugeot 3008 at 430 and 520 litres respectively. As well as this, the boot is a very useable space, packing lots of handy features, such as fold-down hooks to hang the weekly shopping on and some cargo nets to hold in place loose items when tackling those country routes.

What Other Features are on Offer?

The Karoq comes packed with many great features on the outside and the inside in an attempt to gain a strong foothold among SUV buyers. Most importantly, a range of safety aids are offered to contribute to its 5 star Euro NCAP rating, these include; an emergency SOS system, which automatically dials 999 if you are involved in an accident; automatic emergency braking and a tiredness monitoring system that uses a range of sensors to detect if the driver is feeling sleepy and alerts them to stop driving if that's the case. Our model also had front and rear parking sensors, heated seats, a cooled glovebox, cylinder deactivation to save fuel, Isofix anchor points, 19 inch alloy wheels and much more. As Skoda's motto is 'Simply Clever', the Karoq- as with most of their other models- comes with an ice scraper in the fuel cap, an umbrella in the door card and grippy pads in the cup holders so that you can undo your bottle lid whilst driving.

Our SE L car gets a coat of metallic 'business grey' paint, which is a £500 option and is well worth it...

Our SE L car gets a coat of metallic 'business grey' paint, which is a £500 option and is well worth it...

Costs & Ownership

Now, to address the elephant in the room, the Karoq starts from £21,885 for the entry level SE model, is priced from £24,540 for the SE L model reviewed here and £28,820 for the range topping Edition model. This makes the Karoq an appealing choice in the family SUV market as it undercuts many rivals in price (even the cars it shares platforms with like the Volkswagen Tiguan and Seat Ateca) , whilst offering more space and features. In terms of other costs, the 1.5 litre petrol can manage around 45MPG in combined driving conditions, which makes a diesel powered Karoq generally cheaper to run.

Minor changes for the 2020 facelift car include 'SKODA' written across the rear of the vehicle instead of the traditional badge...

Minor changes for the 2020 facelift car include 'SKODA' written across the rear of the vehicle instead of the traditional badge...

So, Should You Buy One?

The 2021 Skoda Karoq is a great all-rounder, compromising a spacious interior with a range of punchy engines, with the 1.5 litre petrol in our car being especially well tuned for most UK conditions. So, the Karoq might not be the most exciting family SUV on the British market, but it certainly plays enough aces to stand out in it.

2021 Skoda karoq SE L 1.5L Petrol

Finally, Before You Go...

I'd like to say thank you for reading until the end and I hope you enjoyed this review. As usual, any tips on how to improve my reviews and articles in general is much appreciated, as I am an aspiring automotive journalist. You can also find some automotive journalism content on my YouTube channel- Poncho202.

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