The complete package
Practical doesn’t equate to boring with the Skoda Karoq.
Don’t get me wrong when I say that Skoda’s new Karoq is superbly practical - it might just be the most practical SUV of the bunch - but I don’t want to give the impression that it’s boring. In fact, as SUVs go, it’s quite the opposite.
After that introduction, you’re probably wondering what makes Karoq so practical. The key is its nifty 40/20/40 Varioflex seating system. All three rear seats are individual and can be folded, slid and tilted independently of each other. They can be configured to provide one, two or three seating positions, and a variety of load sizes and shapes. And, if the need arises, all can be completely removed to create an absolutely cavernous 1810 litres of carrying space.
But practicality isn’t this pony’s only trick. It also bristles with Skoda’s trademark “simply clever” ideas - there are tablet holders for the rear seats to keep the kids occupied, a rubbish bin, retractable parcel shelf, removable torch and an umbrella. I could go on about door pockets, cup holders or the cargo elements, which are a really smart and simple method of stopping items in the back from sliding around, but I think you get the drift . This vehicle is a well thought-out and executed package that addresses the everyday needs of the user.
There’s only one spec in the range, and in its base form it offers a pretty comprehensive equipment list including an 8” display screen, reversing camera and media system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth and eight-speaker sound system. The full safety kit also comes as standard. From there, buyers can tailor their purchase by selecting from Premium, Tech and Travel Packs (prices range from $1700 to $3600).
The Travel Pack adds some creature comforts and driver assistance features, Tech Pack includes infotainment upgrades, nav, park assist and handsfree tailgate while the Premium Pack includes leather seat trim, lighting enhancements and handsfree tailgate. For a limited time, there is also a Launch Pack that combines many of the features of the three for a hefty $8900.
There’s one engine, a 1.5 litre turbo petrol, with fuel saving Cylinder on Demand and a seven-speed DSG gearbox. There’s the option of a six-speed manual as well. Like a great many of its SUV competitors, it’s front-wheel-drive only, though that may change in the future.
Performance is sprightly, steering and handling are European sharp and ride is comfortable and composed. It’s also remarkably quiet for a wagon. The cylinder on demand system is pretty unobtrusive and without the dash display most drivers wouldn’t even notice that the engine has dropped out two cylinders.
It comes with a five year/unlimited kilometre warranty. In comparison, its main competitors - Mazda CX5, Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage - offer three, five and seven years’ respectively.
Prices start at $29,990 for a manual and $32,290 for the DSG. Options include metallic/pearl paint ($700), panoramic sunroof ($1900) and 19” alloys for an extra $700.