Skoda Karoq Test Drive Review
We do a detailed road test review of the Skoda Karoq.
Car Tested: Skoda Karoq 1.5 TSI; Road Test No. 1248; Test Location: Mumbai
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs 31,37,689/-
Elegant design, a practical and feature-loaded cabin along with a punchy petrol engine make the Karoq a premium compact SUV
The Skoda Kodiaq was launched initially at a price of around 35 lakhs. However, since 2018, prices have started to go up. Fast forward to 2020, and the BS6 norms are sure to push the Kodiaq’s pricing up even more, when it launches in 2021. This does open up a nice opportunity for Skoda to bring their smaller SUV, the Karoq in our market. Skoda is importing this car via the CBU route, meaning the taxes it attracts are quite a bit more substantial. So how does the Karoq manage to offset this inherent price disadvantage?
Exteriors – The trend nowadays with cars in general, as it seems, is creating a ‘family’ of SUVs. A top of the line SUV which then spawns smaller, and more cost-effective ‘brothers’ with time. If you look at the Skoda Karoq, that is exactly what you see. From the sharp crease that begins at the headlights and ends at the taillights, to the grille shape, to even the style of the wheel arches, the Karoq is, a smaller Kodiaq.
The Karoq retains all the design elements from the mighty Kodiaq with different headlights and tail lamps
The dimensions being smaller does mean that it does not have the same presence the Kodiaq has, but nevertheless, the look works. There have been some nice modifications to this design that suit the size of this car more. For instance, the headlamps themselves are shaped more like the Skoda Superb, and the taillights are not as wide, and adopt more of a Volvo-esque shape.
The side is dominated by that characteristic crease, and the alloy wheels which are 17-inches, work well with the rest of the car. The panoramic glass roof is present, and is nice to have, especially for the rear seat occupants. Ultimately the design works well, doesn’t scream for attention, nor slide under the radar. It is understated yet sufficiently sophisticated. If you liked the designs of Skoda vehicles in general, there should be no reason this wouldn’t suit your palate.
Interiors – The interior of the Skoda Karoq is what we are used to seeing from Skoda. The inside is largely beige, including the well-made leather upholstery. The dashboard itself is dual-tone, but lacks the gloss panelling the Kodiaq got. The infotainment takes the centre stage, and could have been a bit bigger and responsive, as it also houses the information for the dual-zone climate control.
The Karoq gets electrically adjustable driver seat along with ambient lighting
The infotainment does get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, however, which is nice for those who need Google Maps. The driver’s seat is electrically adjustable, but the passenger’s side is not. The digital driver’s display is nice to have and is quite responsive and easy to use. The car does get 10 coloured ambient lighting, which enhances the look of the cabin.
Moving to the back seat, it is a nice place to be in. The panoramic sunroof brings in a lot of light, and everything you touch is either metal or nice quality soft-touch plastic. Space itself is quite good for the size of this car, though the middle seat can leave its occupants a tad cramped. This being a Skoda does get some well thought out features like a detachable boot light, umbrellas under the front seat, etc. Little touches like this actually go a long way in enhancing the ownership experience of this car.
The quality materials used and the fit and finish justify the premium Skoda charges for the Karoq
The one thing Skoda gets right every time is quality. The interior is extremely well built and is well put together, and the plastics used are of genuine quality. The tolerances are tight, and there is no creaking or scratching heard while poking about. Despite the lack of “cool” features, most of which would fall out of use after a while, for even the pickiest of customers, the Karoq wouldn’t disappoint.
Performance – The 1.5-litre TSI EVO petrol engine that powers the T-Roc also does duty on the Karoq and no matter how much you praise this powertrain, the less it is. Producing 150 PS of power and 250 Nm of torque, there is punch throughout the rev range, although more amplified in the mid-range. Drivability is great as turbo lag is well contained and the engine loves to scream to its 6000 RPM odd redline, the low redline being the only complaint of what is otherwise a phenomenal powerplant.
Skoda is offering the Karoq with the same punchy and refined TSI petrol engine as the one found on the T-Roc
The engine is very refined, spins decently fast and there is a stop-start system too (along with 2-cylinder mode a.k.a. cylinder deactivation at low engine speeds), for reducing fuel consumption but doesn’t help much as the Karoq will return somewhere between 8-12 km/l, nothing close to what a diesel can! 0-100 km/hr takes 10 seconds and the refinement from this engine will bowl you over. The 7-speed DSG automatic gearbox is super quick too, just a bit hesitant at low speeds though, you do get manual control of the gears, using either the tiptronic function on the gear lever or the steering-mounted plastic paddles.
Driving Dynamics – While Volkswagen has opted for a stiffer set-up for a better driving feel with the T-Roc, Skoda has opted for a softer suspension for a better ride with the Karoq. Expectedly, the ride quality is very good and this front-wheel-drive SUV does drive well over most roads, being stable at high speeds too. While there is some amount of body roll, the Karoq can be an engaging car to drive, thanks to a well-weighed steering. Brakes are good too but automatic braking (present on the T-Roc) is given a miss.
Verdict – The Skoda Karoq is a very solid package at the end of the day. Objectively, everything one would expect at this segment, this car offers. Not just that, like other cars of Skoda’s lineup, the car offers very good quality as well. However, in our market price is everything, and the price is where this car suffers.
The double-edged sword here is that this car comes in one variant because it’s imported. This does mean that what you see here is what you get, no need to fiddle around with choosing variants once you have decided to spend the money. However, if you don’t need everything this car offers, you don’t have another variant to go for. The T-Roc from Volkswagen (also imported) is Rs. 5 lakhs cheaper, but does miss on quality plastics, and other features like cruise control, electrically adjustable driver’s seat and 9 airbags.
The premium SUV segment is heating up, and as the competition increases, Skoda could benefit a lot from avoiding the heavy tax levied on the car for importing it. If Skoda decides to bring this car via the CKU route, and add more variants, they are potentially looking at a segment leader here. However, if you are willing to splurge the extra cash for this car, it will not disappoint at all. Skoda has a solid platform to grow their SUV “family”, and the Karoq is an example of just that.
What’s Not So Cool
Alternatives – Volkswagen T-Roc, Jeep Compass, Tata Harrier, Hyundai Tucson
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