Skoda puts practicality first in new Karoq SUV
Since becoming part of the Volkswagen Group in 2000, Skoda has been slowly driving more upmarket from its entry-level roots and expanded the number of models on offer. Along with the Octavia and Superb, the range has swelled with the addition of the Kodiaq and, now, the Karoq compact SUV. Built on the same underpinnings as the new VW Tiguan, Skoda is hoping the Karoq will succeed where the oddball Yeti failed.
It might sound boring, but the Karoq has been designed for maximum practicality. The boot will hold 521 liters (18.4 cu.ft) with the rear seats in place, and a whopping 1,630 L (57.6 cu.ft) with them folded down. The back seats can also be completely removed, which turns the car into a high-riding van with 1,810 L (63.9 cu.ft) of room for bikes, boxes or whatever else you want to throw in there.
Beyond the practical load bay, Skoda has thrown its full technology suite at the cabin of its latest SUV. It debuts the company's version of the Virtual Cockpit popping up across the VW Group, and top-spec cars can be optioned with an LTE connection for a cabin Wi-Fi hotspot. Drivers will also be able to interact with their cars using the Skoda Connect app.
As you would hope, the full range of active safety features you get on rivals like the Mazda CX-5 and Kia Sportage will also be available here. Nervous parkers will be glad to know it will auto-reverse park, while radar cruise-control and lane-keeping assist are also standard. The auto-emergency braking system is able to detect and avoid pedestrians, and blind-spot warning means there's no excuse for highway lane-change fender benders.
Choice is the order of the day when it comes to powertrains, with two petrol and three diesel options. The range will kick off with an 85-kW (114-hp) model, and the most expensive model will make 140 kW (188 hp). Base model cars will come with a six-speed manual gearbox and front-wheel drive as standard, but the range-topper will be four-wheel drive and put its power to the road through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.
Although most Karoqs will never leave the city, Skoda has put some time into making the vehicle decent off the beaten track. Drivers are able to flick through Normal, Sport, Eco, Individual and Snow modes in four-wheel drive models, and a dedicated off-road mode has also been fitted.
Skoda will be putting the Karoq on sale in Europe later this year and will announce pricing closer to that date. When it launches, the car will be head-to-head with the Kia Sportage, Mazda CX-5 and VW Tiguan.