REVIEW – Skoda Karoq 1.5 TSI Edition DSG

Editor-in-chief, Senior Reviewer


Skoda Karoq 1.5 TSI Edition DSG
  • Exterior Styling
  • Interior Finish
  • Engine / Performance
  • Ride / Handling
  • Economy
  • Practicality
  • Equipment
  • Value For Money
4

Summary

The new Skoda Karoq is much more stylish than the Yeti it replaces, especially when it comes to the interior with mood lighting and sculpted seats. The 1.5-litre TSI engine offers reasonable power and good efficiency, and mates well to the 7-speed DSG gearbox. However a lack of 4WD options raise questions about the Karoq, especially given the Edition is a £30,000 car.


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Exterior Styling

The Skoda Karoq is the replacement for the Yeti. As practical as the Yeti was, it could never quite compete with the likes of the Volkswagen Tiguan when it came to styling.

It’s a completely different story now. The Skoda Karoq has a distinct presence. It is tall, broad and rugged-looking, whilst maintaining a certain sleekness to its appearance.

At the front, a large grille takes centre stage. Slim, sleek headlights sit either side, which incorporate simple LED daytime running lights. Below the main headlight unit are some smaller lights. These operate as both cornering lights and front fog lights.

Broad arches create a rugged feel, as does the bulge in the centre of the bonnet.

Without doubt one of the nicest lines on the Karoq is the one which runs from the front headlight, right down the side of the car, and right around the back of the car. It’s a bit like a broad shoulder line, enhancing the rugged edge to the styling.

On the Edition model, 19-inch alloy wheels fill the arches nicely. That being said, they somewhat take away from the rugged appearance, as they don’t look like they’d be best suited to a field.

The rear end of the Karoq is the most understated. There is the smallest of spoilers, accented by gloss black trims to the side of the rear window. Look closely and you will spot the crystalline pattern on the ‘C’ shaped rear lights.

The Karoq is well-proportioned, but with the recently-announced ‘SportLine’ trim it has the potential to be even better. We can’t wait to see a sportier Karoq in the flesh, as this could really take the fight to the VW Tiguan R-Line and Seat Ateca FR.

Interior Finish

On the inside the Yeti left a little to be desired. Some of the plastics were a bit dubious, and the height difference was just off: the multimedia screen and seats much lower than the top of the dashboard and dials.

Skoda has definitely improved things with the Karoq. The interior feels much more cohesive and, crucially, more luxurious.

The show-stopping centrepiece of the Karoq interior comes in the form of sculpted leather seats. Finished in black with contrast grey stitching, they are well-bolstered and inviting.

The soft leather also features on the front armrest and steering wheel. LED ambient lighting strips feature on both driver and passenger sides of the dashboard, and on the front door cards. You can select a colour to suit your mood, and it really boosts cabin ambiance.

The 9.2-inch touchscreen multimedia system is placed at the top of the dashboard, making it much more visible and accessible to the driver. The dials are simple, with a small multi-function display in the middle of them. There is an optional virtual cockpit available for a more immersive driving experience.

The plastics are nice, and the cabin feels well put together. There were no trim squeaks or rattles, and the switch gear felt robust enough to match the exterior image.

It might seem like nit-picking, but the push-button start is in a bit of a naff place: on the steering column. Yes, this is where a key would go, but it just doesn’t feel as premium as being incorporated into the dashboard or centre console.

Similarly to the exterior, we can’t wait to see How Skoda spices things up for the Karoq SportLine.

Engine/Performance

There are several engines available in the Skoda Karoq. Our test car featured the 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder TSI petrol engine. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard, with the optional 7-speed DSG fitted to our car.

Don’t be put off by the seemingly small engine capacity. With power of 150PS and 250Nm it has ample oomph for a car the size of the Karoq.

With the super-slick gear changes of the DSG, it’s able to sprint from 0-62mph in 8.6 seconds, and on to a top speed of 126mph. It’s certainly punchy enough to make this family car feel nippy.

The 1.5 TSI revs nicely; comfortable in the lower rev range but also willing to playfully explore the upper realms. The engine note is a little harsh as you get higher up the rev range, with no electronic symposer to sooth its delivery to the cabin.

That being said, in the most part it’s a quiet engine, and with the 7-speed DSG keeping revs to a minimum the 1.5 TSI in generally unobtrusive. It handles motorway speeds with ease, and the gearbox has no hesitation dropping a cog or two should you need some overtaking power.

The 1.5 TSI is only available with front-wheel drive. With 150PS it’s not entirely relevant to performance; the front wheels can cope with that power even in wet, slippery conditions.

Should you decide to drive the Karoq with vigour, you can switch the DSG to manual mode and use the paddles behind the steering wheel.

The most exciting drivetrain available in a Karoq is reserved for the SportLine. The 2.0-litre TSI is not only the most powerful, with 190PS, but it is also the only petrol engine available with four-wheel drive. Shame that it’s not available across the trim levels.

Ride/Handling

To drive, the Skoda Karoq is exactly as you expect it’s going to be. As an SUV its very design is counter-productive to handling greatness.

The Edition model we tested is geared up towards luxury. As a result the suspension is reasonably forgiving, and comfortable on the motorway. And that isn’t great when you come to a twisty B-road.

There is a lot of lean in the corners, which is when those bolstered front seats are a saving grace. A major issue is the lack of Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) even as an option. This is essentially an adaptive damping system which brings the best of both worlds to the handling.

The steering weight is varied depending which drive mode is selected, and the heavier setting in ‘Sport’ mode was our choice. There isn’t a great deal of feeling through the steering wheel, nor did we expect there to be. But at least the Karoq changes direction well.

Despite a lack of four-wheel drive our 1.5 TSI found plenty of grip, and was competent through the corners. Aside from the odd few days a year when it snows, I don’t think the majority of people would be disadvantaged by the front-wheel drive setup.

Economy

The 1.5 TSI engine is particularly clever when it comes to saving you money at the fuel pumps. You see being front-wheel drive has the advantage of better fuel economy.

Then there’s the selectable drive modes. Put the Karoq in ‘Eco’ mode and throttle response is dialled down, the DSG ensures you are in the most efficient gear, and the air con goes into ‘save the earth’ mode.

Start/stop technology shuts the engine off when stationery to ensure you aren’t wasting fuel when sat in traffic. When driving under extremely light throttle input the Karoq 1.5 TSI shuts down two cylinders to further improve fuel consumption.

We’re not entirely sure what has to happen for the engine to do this. Some journeys it seemed particularly keen to run on 0.75-litres. Other times it refused to do so at all. Nonetheless, it’s an impressive feature and highlights how clever engines are becoming.

The result is a combined fuel consumption quoted at 51.4mpg. For a car this size with a petrol engine that’s not bad at all.

CO2 emissions of 127g/km mean that VED is £165 in the first year and £140 thereafter. With a price far below £40,000 there’s no danger of the VED supplement in the Karoq.

Practicality

The Skoda Yeti was an immensely practical car. Yeti owners looking to trade up will be particularly interested in whether or not the Karoq is as useful in day-to-day life. Short answer: it is.

By far the best feature is the VarioFlex rear seating. The three rear seats are all independent. The middle one can be removed and the two outer seats moved in slightly, to create a roomy four-seater. This is great for when it’s just adults travelling.

When you need a trip to the tip, or want to chuck the mountain bikes in the back, then you can simply remove all three rear seats. This creates a cavernous luggage space – 1,810 litres to be exact – and is a big advantage to the Skoda over rivals.

One area where the 4WD may be missed is when it comes to towing. Sure, the capacity of 1,700kg braked/690kg unbraked for the 1.5 TSI DSG is still impressive. But if you were in a field, with a caravan on the back, it’s not inconceivable to imagine you could become stuck in your 2WD Karoq.

With all the seats in place the boot space is an impressive 521 litres. That means the family holiday is no issue, nor is the weekly shop.

The cabin itself is spacious, with plenty of leg and head room all around. Rear-seat passengers have adjustable backrests which can be reclined slightly to boost comfort. On the back of the front seats is a foldable table. This has a ‘tablet’ position which is great for keeping the kids entertained.

Then you get the nice little ‘Skoda’ touches, such as the umbrella under the passenger seat and ice scraper in the fuel filler cap.

Equipment

The Skoda Karoq comes very generously equipped. Privacy glass, electronic parking brake with auto hold, dual-zone climate control, cruise control with speed limiter, rear parking sensors and automatic lights are featured across the range.

Front assist with autonomous emergency braking is also standard on all Karoq models, which contributed to its 5-star Euro NCAP rating.

By the time you get up to the Edition model you are particularly spoilt. A panoramic sunroof with electric blind will wow passengers and creates a wonderfully airy cabin. The aforementioned LED cabin lighting, and exterior puddle lights featuring the Skoda logo are also bound to be a hit.

Instead of the standard 8-inch touchscreen multimedia system you get the bigger 9.2-inch unit and Columbus navigation system which includes voice and gesture control, along with integrated Wi-Fi.

But it’s the raft of safety features that are most appealing in a family car such as the Karoq. The Edition model has lane assist, blind spot detection with rear traffic alert and traffic sign recognition.

For convenience there’s keyless entry and go, front and rear parking sensors, a rear-view camera and electric tailgate. Heated front seats and the aforementioned VarioFlex rear seating add to interior practicality.

For visibility on the road you get full-LED headlights which feature adaptive front lighting and built-in cornering lights.

There is an options list, should you wish to make your Karoq even more practical. But the important thing is that the standard specification is plentiful. You certainly don’t feel hard done by when you sit in a Karoq Edition and take in all the technology.

Value For Money

So what does it cost? Well the ‘basic’ price of the 1.5 TSI Edition with 7-speed DSG is £29,005. This is more expensive than the Yeti was, but in truth the Karoq is a much better all-round car and more than justifies this higher price.

Our test car was fitted with a few options, pushing the price up to £30,435.

The most expensive of these was the CANTON sound system at £550. It’s a great sound system, but this is certainly not something we’d class as an ‘essential’ extra. If you were determined to keep the cost below £30,000 then this would be an easy sacrifice to make.

The Family Pack is great value at £120. Power child locks are a brilliant feature. Heat-insulating side glass reassures you with your kids in the back. A rubbish bin in the front door pocket is a simple idea yet great use for disposing of empty wrappers or half-eaten bits of food. A double-sided boot mat has a rubber side for practicality in addition to the standard fabric side.

ISOFIX points are standard on the outer rear seats. For a mere £35 you can have them on the front passenger seat. For travelling alone with a baby this is brilliant, and worth every penny.

A heated windscreen and washer nozzles was £275, park assist £300 and space-saver spare wheel £150.

The Skoda Karoq is a brilliant family car, and represents great value for money when compared to the more expensive VW Tiguan. We do, and always will, take issue with 2WD SUVs, especially when you’re spending £30,000.

The 2019 model year looks like it will feature more 4WD availability, and an introduction of DCC. So it seems like Skoda is listening to what people want. Fair play, Skoda.

Facts and Figures

Engine 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol
Max power 150PS at 5,000rpm
Max torque 250Nm at 1,500rpm
Drivetrain 7-speed DSG gearbox, front-wheel drive
0-62mph 8.6 seconds
Top speed 126mph
Fuel tank size 50 litres
Fuel consumption 51.4mpg, combined cycle
CO2 emissions 127g/km
Kerb weight 1,318kg
Towing capacity 1,700kg braked / 690kg unbraked
Luggage capacity 521 litres
NCAP rating 5 stars
Base price £29,005
Price as tested £30,435
Company website www.skoda.co.uk/models/karoq

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