Review and road test of the Skoda Karoq 2.0 TDI 150PS 4x4
Skoda's Karoq is targeted right into the heart of the industry's fast-growing SUV 'C'-segment. Jonathan Crouch looks at a 2.0 TDI 150PS 4x4 version to find out what the improved version of this spacious 'Qashqai-class' Crossover has to offer.
Ten Second Review of the Skoda Karoq 2.0 TDI 150PS 4x4
Skoda's Karoq is a strong contender if you're looking for a spacious five-seat 'C'-segment SUV in the 'Qashqai-sized' crossver class. in this updated form, it gets a smarter look and more equipment, plus as before, benefits from all the latest Volkswagen Group technology, including a hi-tech MQB chassis and cutting-edge safety and infotainment features. In theory then, there's everything you might want from a modern family-sized Crossover of this kind. Here, we look at the 2.0 TDI 150PS 4x4 version to find out if that's so.
One size fits all. It's a good concept, but it isn't always an ideal long term strategy. Skoda used to offer one car, the Yeti, for anyone who wanted any kind of compact SUV. These days though, the brand has specific models for specific areas of this growing segment. And if what you need is a Qashqai-class family hatch-based 'C'-segment SUV, what the Czech brand hopes you'll want is this model, the Karoq.
It's a half-size bigger than the company's base SUV model, the Kamiq, and seeks to stand out from its many rivals. How? Skoda tells us that ride quality, versatility, value and practical family-friendliness are its core attributes. Plus there's the kind of up-market technology and infotainment connectivity that you might not expect from the brand. Will that all be enough to competitively take on the Qashqai-crowd? Here, we look at the top 2.0 TDI 150PS 4x4 variant to find out.
On the move, there's nothing 'sporty' about the Karoq, but its ride and handling combination is truly impressive. The only rivals that can equal this car's supple suspension feel can't match the way it can attack the bends with confidence and even a few occasional flashes of enthusiasm. On the highway, refinement is impressive. In town, it's manoeuvrable and easy to park. And when you're pushing on, the drive dynamics are very difficult to tell apart from those of an Octavia family hatch.
These days, the 150PS version 2.0-litre TDI engine has to be had with DSG auto transmission if you want it with 4WD. The front-driven 2.0 TDI 150PS model can be had with a manual box, as can the lesser 116PS 2.0 TDI unit. In a DSG auto transmission 2.0 TDI 150PS 4WD variant, 62mph takes 8.7s en route to 126mph. And pulling power is rated at 360Nm, enough to facilitate a braked towing capacity to 2,000kgs, half a tonne more than you get further down the range. You'll need this 2.0 TDI powerplant if you want to specify 4WD in a Karoq and if you go for all-wheel traction, you'll also get more sophisticated multi-link rear suspension. Plus an extra 'Off-road' mode that focuses all the car's electronic systems for 'off piste' use. The 4x4 set-up is the usual 'on-demand'-style system that keeps the car front-driven until a lack of traction brings the rear wheels into play.
Design and Build
The Karoq is a substantial 315mm shorter than its lookalike Kodiaq SUV stablemate and significantly narrower and shorter too. Subtle styling changes mark out this updated model. The front grille is now wider and hexagonal in shape, the headlights and tail lights are slimmer, there's a larger rear spoiler and the bumpers have been restyled. As before, this is one of the larger SUVs in the mid-sized SUV class. Take the boot, rated at 521-litres and extendable to 1,630-litres if you fold forward the rear bench. Avoid base trim and that back seat will come in 'VarioFlex' form made up of three separate seats that canslide and, if required, be taken out completely. If you do that, a van-like capacity of up to 1,810-litres is freed up. Few Qashqai-class models can get close to that. View the car in profile and the longer-than-average wheelbase by class standards is very evident and the side aesthetics are also characterised by short overhangs and a sloping roofline that's visually extended by a contour in the D-pillar.
Inside, things are much as before, though Skoda has improved the ambient lighting system and now offers an 'Eco Pack', with upholstery made from vegan materials. Digital instruments are standard, with an 8-inch screen across the range, with a 10.25-inch upgrade available as an option, or on plusher variants. The central infotainment screen is 8-inches as standard, with a 9.2-inch 'Columbus' upgrade available if you want it. Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone-mirroring are standard, with wireless connectivity optional. And, as usual, there are a range of 'Simply Clever' features, including an electrically-retractable tow bar. And a 'Virtual Pedal' option that allows you to open the power-operated tailgate with a wave of your foot beneath the bumper.
Market and Model
Prices for the 2.0 TDI 150PS 4x4 Karoq variant start from just under £35,000 for a mid range 'SE L' variant, but if you go for a plusher trim level (the 'Sportline' option) and/or add a few well-chosen extras, you'll probably be looking at close to around £38,000.
The 'SE L' models include 18-inch 'Miran' alloy wheels, chrome for the roof rails and window surround, VarioFlex seating (a sliding rear bench) and a Winter Pack (which includes a heated steering wheel and heat for the front seats, heated windscreen washer nozzles and headlight washers). 'SE L'-spec also gets you Keyless entry, an engine start/stop system and an extended rear spoiler and the Parking Pack that includes rear view camera and front parking sensors.
Top 'SportLine' variants feature Full LED Matrix headlights with AFS (adaptive front light system), plus an LED interior light pack and a panoramic sunroof. Metallic paint and an electrically operated boot and virtual pedal are also standard, along with a Winter Pack and Parking pack that includes front and rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera.
Well worth having is the 'Skoda Connect services' package. This consists of two things; 'Infotainment Online' gives you online traffic information and can update you on things like fuel prices, parking spaces, current news and weather. Then there are the so-called 'CareConnect Services' which allow you to monitor your car from your smartphone, plus the set-up includes a breakdown call function and will automatically alert the emergency services if the airbags go off in an accident.
Cost of Ownership
The old fashioned image of SUV vehicles being somewhat profligate when it comes to fuel economy certainly doesn't really apply to the Skoda Karoq. The 2.0 TDI 150PS 4x4 diesel variant we're looking at here manages WLTP figures of 49.6mpg and 150g/km of CO2 in base 'SE L' form (or 48.7mpg and 151g/km in top 'Sportline' guise). As you'd expect in this day and age, there's a start/stop system that cuts the engine when you don't need it, stuck in traffic or waiting at the lights. And the DSG auto transmission is equipped with a 'coasting' function that at cruising speeds, will disconnect the gearbox, leaving the engine to idle until you next need it.
Like most modern diesels, all the TDI units on offer get a selective catalytic reduction filter to cut down on nitrous oxide and have been designed around the use of a urea-based solution called AdBlue. This is injected into the exhaust gas stream to help clean up emissions, the liquid used being stored in a 12-litre tank mounted at the rear beneath the boot. This will need topping up as part of regular servicing and you can monitor its status via dashboard display.
If you find yourself approaching this car a little cynically, then we'd understand. At first glance after all, it might be easy to dismiss it as just another quite forgettable European mid-sized fashion-orientated SUV. A necessary inclusion in the Czech brand's model range perhaps. But not the kind of product that could be in any way uniquely 'Skoda'.
Surprisingly though the Karoq turns out to be more than that. In the endearingly comfortable way that it drives and handles, it's a very recognisable ambassador for its brand. And the same is true when you come to examine the versatility and practicality of its class-leadingly-spacious cabin. The VarioFlex seats in particular are a design master-stroke that would really sell us this car. True, some rivals in this segment are undeniably more stylish to look at but if that's not an issue, you could see in this car a compelling mix of competence and desirability.
Skoda Karoq 2.0 TDI 150PS 4x4 review by Jonathan Crouch