27.9.2018Skoda Karoq 2.0 TDI review
Skoda has an enviable line-up in practical cars at the moment, with the likes of the Octavia, Superb, and Kodiaq well established as leading family cars. The most recent edition is the Karoq, which takes on the likes of Nissan's Qashqai and the Peugeot 3008 in what has essentially become the 'normal' family hatch market - the crossover/SUV. Previously tested was the 1.0 TSI petrol offering, but this time around it's the turn of the 2.0 TDI Karoq.
Review by Chris Lilly
We've now driven versions of the Karoq almost at opposite ends of the model spectrum, with this 2.0 litre TDI diesel producing 150 hp, put through a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox to all four wheels. It's only one level below the range-topping unit, which sees the same diesel engine tuned to produce 190 hp. It certainly contrasts with the 115 hp 1.0 TSI petrol previously driven, which had a six-speed manual and was two-wheel drive. That said, the performance figures aren't too different, with this model's 0-62mph time of 9.3 seconds only 1.3 seconds faster than the entry level petrol. It's a punchy unit though, and feels faster on the road, with greater torque working well in short bursts to pick the Karoq up and shift it forward. It never feels like a performance model, but the Karoq should deal well with life as a versatile family work-horse, aiming to deal with short trips into town as comfortably as long motorway runs. The nature of the diesel engine means this Karoq is happiest on the open road, where the lower revs on offer improve refinement and boost fuel economy. For those more likely to buzz around town most, the 1.0 TSI petrol - or its bigger brother, the excellent 1.5 TSI Evo petrol - are likely to prove a better bet. In fact there's a case for ignoring this diesel altogether, since the differences in economy between it and the 1.5 TSI Evo are slim, something that would have been unthinkable a few short years ago, before the problems for diesel started. For those regularly making longer trips though, it's difficult to look past the diesel's fuel economy and gutsy performance - particularly when fully-laden - and it proves a sure footed machine, particularly for those in rural areas.
With all of the kit and the 4x4 system, the Karoq is relatively heavy, with off-road capabilities over the far more common two-wheel drive rivals coming at a premium in terms of price and weight. Still, as alluded to above, the grip available is very good, and although it doesn't look particularly rugged, the Karoq should deal with towing something across a wet field without much bother. Most buyers won't ever need this though, so will likely skip the 4x4 versions for the 99% of the time when they don't need that extra grip, and save themselves some cash. Those in more rural areas may prefer the safety net that four-wheel drive provides. The ride is safe and secure, rather than exciting and engaging - no bad thing. It will cosset occupants better than many a rival, and the comfortable ride keeps everything sensible. It's not a car to buy for enthusiastic drivers, but the above comments will be music to their ears for many families. It's well sorted to keep kids from complaining about travel sickness or the dog from being bounced around in the boot. Matching this ethos is the steering, which is quick but light and lacking feedback. It's precise though, and the Karoq is easy to park.
The Karoq is a relatively good-looking machine, but with styling on the quiet side compared to some rivals. I prefer it to the Qashqai's slightly fussy design for example, though the likes of the Peugeot 3008 is a more striking proposition, and a Mazda CX-5 a sleeker one. The styling isn't going to put buyers off, but it's not likely to drag passers-by into the showroom either. It's a practical piece of work, with plenty of interior space for those both up front and in the rear. Head and leg room is good throughout, and four adults can sit in the Karoq in comfort. The boot is plenty big enough for a family's kit, as it's one of the largest boots in its class. It's pretty vast out back, and there is the option to remove the rear seats altogether should you be a buyer that thinks a van would be a handy proposition on occasion, but needs to carry passengers most of the time. It's not as flexible an interior as a conventional MPV, but the Karoq is more versatile than most rivals.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
Those that have driven anything from the mass-market brands in the VW Group in recent years will be right at home behind thet wheel. The controls, dials, and wheel are pretty standard fare for Skoda, but it's a system that works well. Like the styling, it might not be the most exciting design around, but everything is neatly ordered, feels well built, and controls fall easily to hand. The touchscreen system is the biggest differentiator over the past few years in terms of aesthetics, continuously evolving into larger and more sophisticated systems. The infotainment system responds quickly to commands, is high-res, and offers the usual suite of radio/media, navigation, car information, and other settings options. It's one of the better set-ups in this market, and is certainly a dominant feature in the cabin. The seats match the Karoq's ride well, being on the comfy side, though not lacking in support. Long trips are no issue in the Skoda, for those in the front or rear. Skoda's ethos of 'Simply Clever' is well served in the Karoq as with other models in the range. Lots of neat little touches will help sway buyers, as it is clear those with families have played a part in the design of the car. Reversible central cubby hole trays, little 'bins' in the door bins, and an ice scraper stored in the fuel filler flap are all small details, but ones that really stand out as some intelligent thinking.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
This version of the Karoq tested has an official fuel economy figure of 54.3 MPG, which is fairly good for a family crossover. In the real world, that's not far off what you might expect either, with the trip computer displaying 52.2 MPG after almost 700 miles of driving. There were a fair amount of motorway miles covered during the test, so you would expect to see a good return for the Skoda's fuel economy, but the engine tested is well suited to long-distance work, so it's not an unfair reflection as to what can be expected for buyers. To tax, the Karoq will cost £205 for the first year, and then £140 per year going forward since it falls comfortably below the £40,000 Premium Rate threshold.
There are a few bits of kit to help drivers make the most of their fuel economy in the Skoda Karoq. Engine stop/start will activate at traffic lights and similar situations to prevent the car from running at idle and saving emissions. There is also also a Drive Mode selector, which tweaks throttle response and optimises settings for the DSG transmission. Brake Energy Recovery comes as standard, topping up the car's battery to relieve the strain the alternator places on the engine. This version of the TDI unit also includes SCR technology. According to our calculations, the Skoda Karoq tested has a Next Green Car Rating of 37
Skoda kits the Karoq range out well, with the likes of 17-inch alloys, climate control, cruise control, rear parking sensors, smartphone compatible DAB/Bluetooth system, automatic lights and wipers, and multifunction steering wheel on all models. The Edition trim tested adds 19-inch alloys, Columbus sat-nav system with 9.2-inch touchscreeen system & gesture control, drive mode select, electric tailgate, foldable tables on back of front seats, front & rear parking sensors and reversing camera, panoramic sunroof, heated front seats, removable LED torch in the boot, umbrella under the passenger seat, wireless phone charging, and keyless entry/start. For a little over £30,000, it's a very good value family car.
The Karoq range as a whole is a very good choice as a practical family car, and one of the best on the market. This 4x4 diesel DSG version is well suited to regular long trips, carrying a lot of kit, and dealing with tough conditions in rural areas. A petrol verison might be better if largely driving in built-up areas, but the TDI unit tested does a good job on the open road. Stylish, well-built, and excellent value, the Skoda Karoq is a top family crossover.
Model tested:Skoda Karoq 2.0 TDI 150 hp 4x4 DSG Edition
Body-style: Compact SUV
Engine / CO2: 2.0 TDI 150 hp diesel engine / 138 g/km
Trim grades: SE, SE L, Edition
On-road price: From £34,825
Warranty: Three years / 60,000 miles
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 40 Stars