Skoda Karoq TSI Ambition+
The Karoq is a bit like the Tardis – it seems much bigger on the inside, says Cathy Parker.
It’s a vehicle that is not large on the outside – apparent when it is parked in my garage and presenting me with extra space to move around it, but Skoda still manage to fit in generous front and rear leg room and a well-shaped luggage area, which fits larger items better than some physically larger vehicles. The Karoq is bigger than a typical small SUV, but smaller than most mid-size ones. For example; lengthwise the Karoq is 4382mm, whilst a Mazda CX-5 is 4550mm and a CX-3, 4275mm. Driven here, is the TSI petrol model (the range comprises two petrol models in ‘Ambition +’ and ‘Style’ trim levels and the TDI diesel in 4x4 ‘Style’ trim). It is always quite refreshing to drive a petrol vehicle after a string of diesels; the petrol’s rev better and all just seem to have a different driving feel. They do lose out on the lowdown torque of a diesel, and you do notice slightly higher fuel consumption, but this pretty much evens out when RUC’S are factored in. The 1.5-litre petrol delivers the same power as the 2.0-litre diesel at 110kw, but at a higher 5000-6000 rpm range than the diesel’s maximum power peak, which is between 3500 and 4000 rpm. The diesel wins the torque battle with 340Nm trumping the petrol’s 250Nm. In turn, the petrol beats the diesel to 100km/h by 0.7 of a second (8.6 Vs 9.3) and has a commendably frugal 5.6 l/100km fuel consumption (5.2 for the diesel). Combined with the 7-speed DSG gearbox, the Karoq’s engine performs well, with just a little surging from the DSG during low speed manoeuvring. The on-road ride is nicely compliant, the seats hug you with great support, whilst the steering and handling inspire confidence. The ‘Ambition +’ is the lower spec level; but is still generously fitted out with a 9.2-inch touch screen system, which gives the usual phone, audio and reversing camera functionality, along with Carplay and Android Auto phone mirroring, but no in-built navigation. Other features include Emergency Assist Braking including pedestrian safety, lane assist, blind spot detection, rear traffic alert, emergency braking when reversing out of a park, keyless access and stop/start and parking sensors. The ‘Style’ grade picks up navigation, adaptive cruise control, electric tailgate with virtual pedal, dual zone air-conditioning and electric adjustment for the front seats for a $4,000 premium. You can add extra cost options such as sunroof, Varioflex rear seats (three seats that can slide back and forth or be removed individually to add to the carrying versatility) and heated seats, whilst most of the ‘Style’ items can be optioned to an ‘Ambition +’. A great surprise and delight feature is the lighting projector in the bottom of each front door that projects the word “Skoda’’ on the ground when said doors open – not overly useful, but very cool. Overall, the Karoq is a great package which lets you have a physically smaller vehicle without sacrificing larger vehicle usability.