Out of the 12 cars that we run as part of the ëOur Carsí fleet, four of them are SUVs, including this, the latest arrival to the office car park. And thatís hardly surprising, considering how these Sports Utility Vehicles are taking the marketplace by storm. The Karoq arrived on sale almost a year ago and is Skodaís mid-sized offering that competes against the Ford Kuga, Nissan Qashqai and Peugeot 3008, as well as homegrown alternatives like the SEAT Ateca and Volkswagen Tiguan. It sits on the Volkswagen Group MQB platform, uses the same engines and bears more than a passing resemblance to the Ateca that it shares much of its technology with. They both have the same wheelbase and are within two centimetres of each other in overall length.
But whereas the Ateca has been criticised for its interior being a little low rent, Skodaís designers and engineers have created a cabin that is a whole lot more upmarket and feels better quality. There are swathes of piano black surfaces, more tactile surfaces and a prominently placed glass-like infotainment system with a touchscreen that is eight-inches in size. All of the latest connectivity options are catered for, including Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and Bluetooth, and thereís a handily placed USB port in front of the gear selector, so I can charge up my iPhone. A lot of thought has gone into the design of the cabin, with a large ëJumbo boxí underneath the central armrest that is sectioned off to accommodate two drinks cups, as well as sections for coins and a fuel card.
With the Karoq pressed into service to carry my two young daughters, we specified the Karoq so that it is as family friendly as possible. The £250 upgrade to leather upholstery was a no brainer, giving the interior wipe-clean convenience, and a pair of tablet holders to keep Kayla and Felicity quiet on journeys is a snip at just £50. The Family Pack not only includes rear privacy glass, but also a power-operated child safety lock, a rubbish bin in the door panel and a double sided mat in the luggage compartment. Itís an absolute bargain at £120. With the winter months promising icy mornings, and possibly snow, the £275 heated front windscreen and washer nozzles are a sound investment. The automatic high beam lights, auto-dimming rear view mirror, automatic headlights and rain sensor is a low-cost addition at £200 and the reassurance of having a spare wheel meant paying an extra £150. Traffic sign recognition is a handy feature, costing just £75, and the ability to carry a childís Isofix car seat in the front is an extra £35. We also opted for the driver assistance package that consists of adaptive cruise control, lane assist, blind spot detection, traffic jam assist and emergency assist at a cost of £1,210. Itís one of the least tangible optional extras, and weíll see if we actually bother to use the technology, or whether itís a wasteful foray. The bright red paintwork of our car is what Skoda calls an ëexclusiveí colour, and for that read more expensive. Itís a hefty £975 optional extra and is one of the few bright colours that are offered on the Karoq, which in turn makes it easier to see on the road by other road users. Itís for that reason that I chose it over four shades of grey, two dark blues, green or black. Skoda also offers two shades of white, but with us running the Karoq over the winter months, it would permanently look dirty.
Date arrived 12th November 2018
Fuel economy 58.9 (combined) 42.6mpg (on test)
The tablet holders are an absolute snip at £50 and should keep the kids quiet in the back.
Skoda’s are cheerful, but no longer cheap.