The Karoq is com­fort­able and keenly priced, but how does it fare as a tow car?

Model tested 2.0 TDI 150PS 4x4 SE L Price £28,445 Kerb­weight 1561kg

Practical Caravan - - Contents -

What’s new?

The Škoda Karoq in­di­rectly re­places the Yeti, al­though it’s quite a bit larger, to bet­ter ri­val the likes of Nis­san’s Qashqai and Seat’s Ateca. There’s a choice of petrol and diesel, as well as two-whee­land four-wheel-drive. We’re test­ing the 2.0-litre diesel

4x4 in mid-spec SE L trim.

What are we look­ing for?

In solo driv­ing, the Karoq’s com­fort­able ride is an as­set, but is the sus­pen­sion too soft for tow­ing? Is the Škoda prac­ti­cal enough to com­pete against so many tough ri­vals? Tow­ing abil­ity We’ve towed with the Karoq be­fore, at the Tow Car Awards test­ing ear­lier in the year. It fin­ished a com­mend­able sec­ond in class to the Peu­geot 5008, miss­ing out largely be­cause it wasn’t as sta­ble as the Peu­geot at high speeds. The car­a­vans used for the Tow Car Awards don’t have sta­biliser hitches fit­ted, but the Swift Ex­pres­sion 590 we used for this test did. As you’d ex­pect, this helps with sta­bil­ity on mo­tor­ways and A-roads. From time to time, there was slight move­ment, usu­ally when caught by a sud­den gust or when over­tak­ing a high-sided ve­hi­cle. But for the most part, any mi­nor sway died down with­out the need for steer­ing cor­rec­tions. Our test route in­cluded some hilly A-roads, which gave the Škoda’s per­for­mance a stern test. We could feel the weight of the car­a­van tow­ing up­hill, chang­ing down to fifth or even fourth gear to hold speed on a par­tic­u­larly lumpy stretch of dual car­riage­way. On flat­ter roads, the Karoq’s en­gine was more at ease, but over­tak­ing al­ways needed the right gear and a straight stretch of road with plenty of vis­i­bil­ity. We’ve towed with many cars fit­ted with this en­gine, and it’s cer­tainly up to the job. But in this case, it doesn’t feel quite as punchy as when fit­ted to a lighter ve­hi­cle that is pulling a lighter car­a­van. That said, there’s still enough pull to han­dle a hill start on a 1-in-10 slope. We found the elec­tronic park­ing brake held car and car­a­van still, and re­leased smoothly with­out al­low­ing the out­fit to roll back­wards. Our test took place in the dry, so wasn’t es­pe­cially tax­ing for the Škoda’s four-wheel-drive sys­tem. Clearly, this would have been a ben­e­fit had the road been wet or slip­pery. Dur­ing the test, we hitched and un­hitched the van a num­ber of times. Hitch­ing up was al­ways easy, thanks to good clear­ance around the tow­ball and ac­cess to the electrics, which face

side­ways on the tow­ball neck. This neat ar­range­ment keeps the elec­tric socket clear of the bumper. The tow­ball it­self drops at the press of a but­ton in the boot, al­though it must be fixed in po­si­tion by hand. The tow­ball and 13-pin electrics cost £850. Solo driv­ing With­out the weight of a car­a­van, the Karoq shifts at a good pace. The en­gine com­bines strong per­for­mance with re­spectable econ­omy – we rou­tinely saw 50mpg or bet­ter in solo drives. Škoda has tuned the Karoq’s sus­pen­sion to favour com­fort over sporty han­dling. That’s no bad thing, as the Karoq’s ride is calm and com­posed over all but the worst sur­faces. Driven with en­thu­si­asm on a coun­try road, the Karoq han­dles se­curely enough, but com­pared with a Seat Ateca, it feels floaty and leans more in cor­ner­ing. At mo­tor­way speeds, there’s some road noise, but not enough to cause any ir­ri­ta­tion. Prac­ti­cal­ity Aside from a cou­ple of quirks, the Karoq is well thought out. Cabin qual­ity is good, with a premium look and feel. The driv­ing po­si­tion is com­fort­able. In the back, there are air vents be­tween the front seats to help keep the tem­per­a­ture ac­cept­able for all pas­sen­gers. There’s plenty of head­room and legroom, but the pic­nic trays on the front seat backs steal a cen­time­tre or so. SE L spec has Var­i­oflex rear seats – three in­di­vid­ual chairs which slide, re­cline, tum­ble for­ward or can be re­moved. With the seats fully back on their run­ners, there’s 479 litres of lug­gage space, about the same as the Škoda’s key ri­vals. Sac­ri­fice some legroom and that ex­tends to 588 litres. Fold­ing the seats down gives more space, al­though they don’t sit flush with the boot floor, not ideal if you want to load a long item. They can be re­moved to max­imise space, but then you need some­where to store them. The Karoq is good value, and re­search by our col­leagues on What Car?’s Tar­get Price team shows that dis­counts of £1000 or more are avail­able. Fuel bills should also be af­ford­able. Al­though the of­fi­cial com­bined fig­ure is 56.5mpg, we saw closer to 50mpg. When tow­ing the Swift Ex­pres­sion, the Karoq achieved 28.2mpg. Re­sale val­ues are pre­dicted to be strong – What Car? ex­pects the Škoda will be worth 50% of the orig­i­nal price af­ter three years and 36,000 miles. Ver­dict Škoda’s Karoq is one of our favourite SUVS of this size. It’s keenly priced, com­fort­able and sta­ble in most con­di­tions. More pulling power would make it even bet­ter.

438cm

Be­hind the wheel The cabin qual­ity is good, with a premium look and feel, and there is lots of ad­justa­bil­ity for the steer­ing wheel and the driver’s seat

Rear seats In SE L spec, three in­di­vid­ual Var­i­oflex rear seats slide, re­cline, tum­ble for­ward or can be com­pletely re­moved

Lug­gage Boot space is 479 litres with the rear seats fully back, but can be in­creased to 588 litres

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