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REVIEW – Skoda Karoq SportLine


Skoda Karoq 2.0 TSI 190PS 4x4 SportLine DSG
  • Exterior Styling
  • Interior Finish
  • Engine / Performance
  • Ride / Handling
  • Economy
  • Practicality
  • Equipment
  • Value For Money
4.5

Summary

Unless you need the 7-seats of the Kodiaq, the Skoda Karoq is a better-sized vehicle. It still has plenty of space inside, but isn’t so big as to handle like a cruise liner. The 2.0 TSI petrol engine is the fastest in the range, with a 7.3 second 0-62mph time. It’s a fun, rev-happy engine that puts a smile on your face. But the downside of that fun comes with higher fuel consumption; the 2.0 TDI 190PS is probably a more sensible all-rounder.


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Exterior Styling

We’ve tested the Skoda Karoq before, in Edition guise. And whilst we liked the styling, the car was missing that sporty edge that could allow us to love it. Fast forward to now and an enhanced Karoq line-up now includes a SportLine model: the one you see here.

First impressions are promising. Our test car was finished in the same Race Blue as the Kodiaq vRS we tested last year. It’s a fantastic colour; standing out in a crowd. Velvet Red is equally impressive, and would still be our pick.

Further enhancing the sporty theme is a host of gloss black detailing, including the front grille, side mirrors and roof rails. A couple of SportLine badges formally identify this particular Skoda Karoq.

There are some striking lines on this facelifted car, from the protruding curves of the bonnet to the bold ridge running the entire length of the car; from the front wing to the tail light. Beneath this are the 19-inch turbine-style alloy wheels. Finished in a two-tone dark grey and silver they complement the other dark detailing.

One of the biggest changes comes at the back of the Skoda Karoq. Gone is the Skoda badge, replaced by the word ‘Skoda’. The reason for this is twofold. First, it gives a more premium appearance. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, Skoda felt that in some markets its logo may not be that well know. Putting the full name on the back of the car could help boost the awareness of the badge on the front. It’s the sort of cleverness we’ve come to expect of Skoda these days.

In the absence of vRS model – for the time being, at least, the Skoda Karoq SportLine remains the sportiest option, and a good-looking one at that.

Interior Finish

A key area of improvement in Skoda’s recent history comes in the form of cabin quality. By making marked improvements to materials, fit and finish Skoda has moved, in the opinion of media and consumers alike, from the flanks of the Volkswagen-Audi group to being up there with the best of the brands.

Take the Skoda Karoq SportLine as a prime example of this. The overall finish in the cabin is of a high enough quality to allow it to take the fight to an Audi Q3. If you look past the badge – which for some people just isn’t possible – you may be pleasantly surprised.

There are still some questionable plastics in the cabin of the Skoda Karoq, but now you have to look harder to find them. Kept to the lower parts of the dashboard and doors, the harder plastics make sense by adding a robustness in areas that could be caught by shoes, bags and the like.

The SportLine model comes as standard with fixed-headrest buckets in the front. Our test car had the optional full leather trim, which actually looks less impressive than the standard offering! Save yourself £1,610 and stick to the huge sports seats.

The finisher in the SportLine is a carbon-effect trim. It’s nice enough, but creates the problem of monotony. From the black leather, to the black plastics, to the black finisher, the cabin of the Skoda Karoq ends up a rather dark place. In this regard a brushed aluminium or silver trim would have been better.

Saving the day on the colour front is the customisable LED ambient lighting, which features on the front doors and across the dashboard. This can inject some life into the cabin, with a colour to suit your mood.

Engine/Performance

There are several engines available in the Skoda Karoq, both petrol and diesel. In the absence of a vRS model, the largest power output is 190PS. That can come from a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine; either petrol or diesel. Our test car had the former, a 2.0 TSI petrol with 190PS and 320Nm of torque.

Sending power to all four wheels – when required – and mated to a 7-speed DSG gearbox, this is the fastest Karoq available; accelerating from 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds and on to a top speed of 132mph. Admittedly the TSI is not much faster than the diesel model; at 7.4 seconds and 131mph respectively.

But crucially that’s only a few tenths slower than the Kodiaq vRS; certainly enough for us to describe the Karoq SportLine as ‘sprightly’. And what the petrol engine adds over the diesel is a larger rev range and what is, perhaps, a more traditional sporty setup. Yes, diesels have more torque. But that the TSI is a rev-happy motor that urges you to explore the uppermost realms of its range gives it a certain charm.

The DSG gearbox helps the TSI perform greater than expectations. Ultra-fast gear changes mean you’re never out of the power band, and having 7-ratios improves acceleration. It’s worth mentioning that you don’t get steering wheel paddles as standard, so if you like to feel more involved, make sure you tick that option box.

There are different drive modes, including a custom mode, which change the engine and steering characteristics. There is a ‘sport’ mode to the gearbox which gives a more urgent feel by keeping revs higher and being more eager to drop a gear.

Ride/Handling

One of our major problems with the Skoda Kodiaq vRS was the way it handled. That’s because, despite the best efforts of many engineers, it couldn’t hide its size and bulk; lurching into corners in a rather unsettling manner.

With the Karoq SportLine, things are a little different. This car is a much better size than the Kodiaq. It is shorter, lower and lighter, all of which are good traits when it comes to handling. The result is that the Karoq SportLine is better to drive in anger than the (much) more expensive Kodiaq vRS.

In previous reviews we have raved about Skoda’s Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) system, which alters the damping depending on the drive mode. It wasn’t actually fitted to our test car on this occasion, yet the Karoq SportLine still drove brilliantly.

The steering lacks feel, but is nicely weighted in its most dynamic setting. The Karoq still suffers a degree of pitch when you corner in anger, but that was with the standard, compromised setup. It would be interesting to see what DCC adds to the equation, when Dynamic mode can be firmer and more focussed. Grip is never an issue; the non-permanent 4×4 system shifts power around to ensure all 190PS can be used, whatever the weather.

But perhaps what makes the Karoq SportLine so much fun in the bends is that 2.0 TSI engine. Its fondness for revving its head off mates well with the addition of a synthesised engine note. Add in the brilliant DSG gearbox and watch your favourite B-road come alive.

On the motorway the Karoq SportLine is peaceful and refined. It has the overtaking power needed, but in truth a diesel model will be a better companion for a long motorway slog.

Economy

A diesel model will also be better when it comes to economy. It may have start/stop technology and an Eco drive mode, but the 2.0 TSI is never going to be the most efficient powertrain. And the amount of fun you’ll be having on the B-roads won’t help matters either.

Combined fuel consumption on the WLTP cycle is 32.1mpg. It’s about in line with our expectations heading into the test; you’d hope for low 30s in a petrol and mid 40s in a diesel. Yet with a quoted figure of 39.8mpg for the 2.0 TDI, the gap is not as large as you might think.

If you do mostly motorway miles, then it would be hard to ignore the diesel. But if you spend your life nipping here and popping there, the TSI petrol could actually be better for you. The economy difference won’t matter too greatly, and you’ll have more fun on the road.

CO2 emissions for emission purposes are now the WLTP figures. For the Karoq SportLine these are 192g/km in the petrol, and 177g/km in the diesel. That equates to first-year VED of £1,305 and £870 respectively. Subsequent VED would be at the standard £150 in both cases.

Even if you are liberal with the options list, you’ll most likely remain below £40,000 which ensures the VED surcharge – currently £325 a year – is not applicable. And given how easy it is to surpass £40k these days, it’s a welcome relief.

Practicality

It may be smaller than the Kodiaq, but the Skoda Karoq SportLine is a vastly practical car. In truth, the only practical difference between the two cars is that the Kodiaq has seven seats. Unless you absolutely need them, you’ll be just as happy with a Karoq.

The boot space is a very usable 521 litres. Suitcases won’t cause any problems, and you’d have to go a bit mad at the supermarket to fill it.

The same is true of the cabin. Up front, the leg and head room is especially generous. Even tall adults will not struggle for room.

The amount of rear leg room depends largely on who’s in the front. If you’re behind a 6ft person it will be good. If you’re behind me (at 5ft 7in) it’s really spacious. A good test of a car is how comfortably you can sit behind your own driver’s seat and, in that regard, the Karoq SportLine is a resounding success.

Being smaller than the Kodiaq has other benefits too. It never feels like you’re at the helm of a cruise ship; always advantageous in a supermarket car park.

If you wish to fit a tow bar to your Karoq SportLine, it can tow a braked trailer up to 1,900kg, which should be plenty. If you want to make your Karoq look like the true adventurer, you can make use of the roof rails to fit a roof rack or roof box.

Above all else, the Karoq is a family car, and it excels as such. What the SportLine adds is a sense of style and a level of performance that can put a smile on your face. It’s very much ‘Daddy Cool’.

Equipment

To assist with family life, the Skoda Karoq SportLine boasts a high specification and plenty of cool kit as standard. Most of the SportLine additions are visual – the exterior body styling, large alloy wheels, sports seats and carbon-effect interior finisher.

The touchscreen in the centre of the dashboard is an 8-inch unit with Amundsen satellite navigation, DAB radio, Bluetooth, voice control and integrated Wi-Fi. Our test car had the optional Virtual Cockpit (£465) and this can be customised using the main touchscreen.

The Karoq SportLine features a complete LED lighting system. The adaptive front lighting system – including LED daytime running lights – and the tail lights are full-LED, as is all the interior lighting.

For comfort and convenience the SportLine gets keyless entry and start system, auto lights, auto wipers, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control and an electrically-operated tailgate.

For safety, you get a front assist radar with autonomous emergency braking as standard. There is also a pedestrian monitor, driver fatigue sensor, and an anti-lock braking system (ABS) that encompasses a whole host of other acronyms that mean absolutely nothing to us: MSR, EDS, MKB and the like.

Compared to the Kodiaq, the Karoq is a doddle to park. But, just to be sure, you get a rear-view camera in addition to front and rear parking sensors.

In case you get fed up of blasting down the local B-road and decide to hit the motorway, you’ll find the cruise control with speed limiter function useful too.

Value For Money

One of the main reasons we find Skoda models appealing is the price point. They are often a few thousand pounds cheaper than their Volkswagen and Audi siblings, and come with more equipment as standard.

It’s for this reason we were left unconvinced by the Kodiaq vRS; which seemed expensive for what it offered. The opposite is true of this Karoq SportLine, which is a well-balanced offering of performance, practicality and price.

The Karoq range starts at £22,575 on the road. For the 2.0 TSI SportLine you’re looking at £33,430. With a few options our car, as tested, was priced at £35,805.

Bearing in mind that included £1,610 for the leather seats, which wouldn’t be on our list. Instead we would have the Dynamic Chassis Control and a few hundred quid in our pockets.

But the price of this car is some £10,000 cheaper than the Kodiaq vRS. And that’s a lot of money for what is, essentially, some vRS badging and a pair of seats in the boot. Hell, the Karoq is even the same colour.

The only issue with the logic of saying “the Kodiaq is too big and expensive, why not have the Karoq?” is a simple one: the Skoda Octavia Estate. It offers all the space and practicality of the Karoq, with even better handling characteristics, and costs a few thousand pounds less.

And yet, the charm of the Karoq SportLine is hard to ignore. We love an SUV in Britain, and this is a fantastic one at that. You get all the benefits – a higher driving position, cabin space and 4×4 grip – but with the added bonus of a punchy engine and decent handling.

Facts and Figures

Engine 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol
Max power 190PS at 4,200rpm
Max torque 320Nm at 1,400-4,100rpm
Drivetrain 7-speed DSG automatic transmission, non-permanent all-wheel drive
0-62mph 7.3 seconds
Top speed 132mph
Fuel tank size 55 litres
Fuel consumption 32.1 mpg combined, WLTP
CO2 emissions 192 g/km WLTP
Kerb weight 1,504kg
Towing capacity 1,900kg braked / 750kg unbraked
Luggage capacity 521 litres
NCAP rating 5 stars
Base price £33,430
Price as tested £35,805
Company website www.skoda.co.uk/new-cars/karoq

2 thoughts on “REVIEW – Skoda Karoq SportLine

  • Thursday 14 May 2020 at 20:46
    Permalink

    new car still in compound since lockdown 190 tdi as above hope it matches ateca fr 190 manual

    Reply
    • Tuesday 30 June 2020 at 09:45
      Permalink

      Do you have it yet? I ordered mine in January and as far as I know it still hasn’t been built 🙁

      Reply

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