2017 Skoda Karoq review: Great value versatility

The Skoda Karoq is effectively the replacement for Skoda’s much-loved and very successful Yeti. It’s grown a bit and has lost the individual looks in the transformation from Yeti to Karoq, but it’s also become much more polished, which it needs to be to take on rivals like the Seat Ateca, Nissan Qashqai, Peugeot 3008 and Renault Kadjar.
Body Style: 5 door SUV
Seats: 5
MRP from lb20,875-lb31,690
Did you know? Every Skoda gets an ice scraper tucked neatly inside the fuel filler cap.

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Verdict
The Skoda Karoq does everything you could want of a mid-sized family SUV. It’s good value, spacious, practical, comfortable and precise to drive, and smart to look at. Plus, it’s more versatile than most thanks to rear seats that slide, fold and can be removed altogether. If you’re not bothered about the fairly nondescript looks – there’s no contrast roof and bright colour palette here – then this should be your first choice of family SUV.
Design
Comfort
Technology & Connectivity
Performance & Handling
Safety
Spec & Trim Levels
Fuel Economy
Pricing
We Like
Good range of engines
Versatile rear seats
Perky yet comfortable to drive
We Don’t Like
Cheap-feeling plastics in some areas
Wind noise on the motorway
Diesel engines are noisy

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Design
The Skoda is certainly not the most distinctive-looking car in this class; a Peugeot 3008 has more style savvy, with its sharp lines and two-tone paint. That’s a bit of a shame, especially as the Yeti was so recognisable even in this crowded segment. For all that, the Karoq is a smart-looking car, with an appealing simplicity to its looks. Plus, the blocky shape of the Karoq makes it easy to see out of and judge in a tight spot.
All Karoq models get LED daytime running lights and rear lights, roof rails and 17-inch alloy wheels. Mid-spec SEL does even better with full LED headlights and 18-inch wheels.


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Comfort
Where many rivals are increasingly going for glossy finishes and sculptural dashboards, Skoda has opted for function over style. The Karoq employs simplistic shapes formed by high quality soft-touch materials. It might not look like a trendy wine bar inside, but it feels like it was built to last.
The dash is economic on buttons and big on touchscreen (every model gets an 8-inch touchscreen, or you can add a fancy 9.2-inch version), and all the functions and switches are where you expect them to be.
From next year you’ll be able to pay extra for very swish digital dials that offer similar functionality to Audi’s virtual cockpit with its switchable panoramic view to prioritise nav or driving information. Mind you, we quite like the standard, easy-to-read physical dials with their smart, contrasting grey ring and a colour readout in the middle (from SE L and up) for your basic nav commands and trip info.
Standard adjustable lumbar support and well-placed pedals mean that the Skoda’s is a really comfortable driving position, and there’s plenty of room in the back for a tall adult to sit behind a tall driver comfortably. A middle passenger in the back will feel a bit cramped, though, and they’re perched on a raised, hard cushion.
Practicality
Skoda really deserves credit for all the useful touches it includes on the Karoq, from an umbrella under the passenger seat to picnic tables on the back of the front seats, an ice scraper in the fuel filler cap, a pen holder in the glovebox, a parking ticket holder on the windscreen and a boot light that doubles as a removable torch. They’re all small things, but you appreciate them massively when you find you need them.
Entry-level SE trim is the only Karoq model that does without VarioFlex seats, which might sound like a posh office chair, but is in fact a rear bench that has sliding and reclining outer seats, and a (narrower) central seat that can be folded to make a chunky armrest, or all of them can be toppled forwards and up, or removed altogether for full Yeti-like van usability.
Not only that, the narrower centre section can be removed altogether so that you can shift the two outer seats inboard slightly for an executive, four-seat layout with masses of elbowroom to keep kids or colleagues happy.
It’s a clever rear seat system that really helps justify the jump up to SEL. Entry SE cars get straightforward 60/40 split folding seats that leave a big step up in the boot floor when folded, unless you pay to add a variable boot floor.
Still, the Karoq’s 521-litre boot is one of the biggest in the class, putting the Qashqai’s 430-litre boot to shame, and offering much the same space as a Peugeot 3008’s. Overall, the Skoda is one of the most practical and spacious cars in the class.


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Technology & Connectivity
Every Karoq comes with an 8.0-inch colour touchscreen, complete with DAB, USB input, Bluetooth handsfree and audio streaming, mirrorlink and voice control. It’ll cost lb450 to add sat-nav, though. SEL gets western European sat-nav as standard, as well as nd also Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and WiFi (assuming you’ve connected a Smartphone that provides the internet connection).
A colour readout in between the speedo and rev counter is also a welcome upgrade for SEL, and will show you nav instructions as well as media and trip info. Edition trim gets the full-fat 9.2-inch screen with gesture control (so you can change the volume and skip tracks just by swiping through the air in front of the screen), and wireless phone charging.
Honestly, we find gesture control to be something of a gimmick in every car we’ve tried it in – BMW and VW Group cars included – so it’s not something that should sway you to spend more money. The big screen is lovely, but given that it costs lb1250 to add to SEL, we’d stick with the standard tech kit on SEL, and we’d be very happy with it. It’s certainly better than the systems you get in the Renault Kadjar, Nissan Qashqai and Peugeot 3008 – and is much the same as what you get in the Seat Ateca and VW Tiguan – making it one of the best in its class.

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Performance & Handling
Engine options include a turbocharged 1.0-litre or 1.5-litre petrol and 1.6 or 2.0-litre diesel, and you can have a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic in place of the standard six-speed manual gearbox on every engine. The 2.0-litre diesel is also offered with four-wheel drive.
We’ve driven every engine apart from the 1.6 diesel, and we’d stick with the petrols.
The 1.0-litre is a peach and far stronger than it’s low capacity would suggest. There’s more than enough shove for ambling around town, but it also feels quite at home on the motorway. Its smooth running is enough to fool you into thinking that it’s a larger engine, the only real giveaway being the mild thrum it makes when driving with gusto. The precise six-speed manual transmission is satisfying to use and works well with all of the engines.
The 1.5, which shuts off two of its cylinders when it can, to save on fuel and emissions, delivers stronger acceleration and great refinement.
The 2.0-litre diesel is a great option if you do very high mileage, as it’s still punchy and well-suited to the Karoq’s utilitarian nature, but it’s noisier than the petrols.
The seven-speed DSG auto is pretty hard to fault, and is sure to do a good job on any of these motors, so if you want an auto then you’ve nothing to fear here, even if we’d save the money and go for the light, precise-shifting six-speed manual.
Handling and comfort
The Karoq is eminently fit for purpose in the way it drives. The steering is predictable and consistent in its weight and response, there’s loads of grip and stoic cornering ability even in front-wheel drive models, and body control is tidy enough that you’re rarely bothered by it. You can even fling it gamely through some direction changes and find a glimmer of enjoyment, but this is not quite the sharp, fairly involving drive that a Seat Ateca or Mazda CX-5 is.
The Karoq is one of the better riding cars in the class, too, shrugging off scrappy, broken surfaces with the sort of aplomb that suggests it’ll be more comfortable than the firm but fun Seat Ateca on UK roads, and will even give the soft Peugeot 3008 and Nissan Qashqai something to think about. Or certainly the 1.5 TSI model, anyway. The 2.0 TDI we had a go in felt noticeably choppier, so the lighter petrol engine clearly makes a difference in respect of comfort as well as refinement.
Engine choice: 1.5 TSI manual
0-62 MPH
8.1 seconds
Fuel economy
52.3 mpg
Emissions
123g/km

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Safety
The Karoq comes with a full gamut of air bags including knee airbags for front occupants, a fatigue sensor to warn the driver when they might be getting tired, and automatic emergency braking at city speeds if an imminent collision is sensed with a car or pedestrian. Of course, you also get tyre pressure monitoring, traction and stability control, LED daytime running lights and two Isofix fittings in the rear seats. You do have to pay lb35 extra to get Isofix fittings in the front passenger seat.
A space saver tyre will cost lb150 extra and we’d always recommend you add one as tyre inflation kits are the stuff of nightmares. LED headlights from SEL and up mean that visibility at night will be great, too. Automatic main beam, which dips when it senses oncoming traffic, is a lb200 option.

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Spec & Trim Levels
Colours
Blue is the only standard colour, with white a very affordable option, and a reasonable palette of metallic shades or the very on-trend flat grey on offer for lb555. One standout colour is pearlescent Velvet Red, for a rather lofty lb900. We rather like Moon White and Magnetic Brown, or silver’s always a safe option. Check out our gallery below to see the Karoq in a variety of the colours on offer.
Trim Levels
The Karoq is available with three main trims – SE, SEL and Edition. There is also SE Tech, which is targeted at business users, as it costs the same as SE but includes nav – you won’t be able to get it on finance as a private buyer, though.
SE is very well equipped, but SE L is a no-brainer unless cost is an absolute priority. Sure, SE gets the 8.0in touchscreen, climate control, cruise control, rear parking sensors, multifunction steering wheel and auto lights and wipers. But SE L costs around lb2300 more than SE and includes those excellent varioflex rear seats that make the Karoq more versatile than any rival, sat-nav, a colour driver’s readout, front and rear parking sensors with rear view camera, keyless entry and go, heated front seats, alcantara upholstery, LED headlights and Apple CarPlay and Anroid Auto. It’s more than enough to justify the jump in price, and it’ll hold its value much better, too.
Edition gets an electrically adjustable driver’s seat, leather upholstery, 19-inch wheels, panoramic glass roof and powered tailgate among a few other extras, but costs some lb2600 over the already generously equipped SE L.
Size and Dimensions
Length
4,382mm
Width
2025mm
Height
1603mm
Max towing weight unbraked – braked
680kg – 2000kg

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Fuel Economy
The Karoq will be one of the most affordable cars in the class to run. It’ll hold its value well, especially for a car that’s quite keenly priced and well equipped in the first place, and the engines are generally very good for emissions and fuel economy.
If you do high mileage, the diesels will pay back the higher purchase and tax costs, but it does have to be many thousands of miles as both the 1.0 TSI and 1.5 TSI will do over 40mpg in real-world use, where the diesels will see you past 50mpg.
Insurance costs are excellent. The 1.0 TSI and 1.6 TDI models are in Group 10, which is the same as a mid-range Ford Fiesta, so is a great option for families with teens that will want to learn to drive.
Reliability and servicing
Skoda has a decent reliability record according to owner surveys, even if rivals like the Honda HR-V and (much smaller) Toyota C-HR will surpass it for reliability and dealer standards.
The car will bring up a message when it needs servicing, but it’s safe to assume that it’ll need a trip to the dealer at 10,000 and 20,000 miles. Pay in advance, and Skoda will carry out both services for lb279, or lb16 per month.
Minor
12 months or 10,000 miles
Major
24 months or 12,000 miles

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Pricing
The Karoq is well priced, but it costs a bit less to get an equivalent Renault Kadjar or Peugeot 3008 with sat-nav. Even so, Skoda routinely offers very competitive finance deals and money-off promotions, so shop about and haggle hard and you should be able to get a Karoq for reasonable money. Even at launch, Skoda will give you lb1500 deposit contribution on PCP finance, which means that a 1.0 TSI SE L will cost lb295 per month over three years, following a lb2000 deposit. It’s not the cheapest finance around on a car of this class – check out Renault for that, as they have deals from lb199 per month – but it’s still a good deal.
Company car tax costs are also good on the Karoq, but oddly the 1.6 TDI is higher in emissions and tax costs than equivalent cars like the Peugeot 3008 1.6 BlueHDi so is a costlier company car. The other engines are all good bets. A 1.0 TSI 115 SE L will cost a fraction under lb7000 in BIK tax over three years from 2017, which is almost exactly the same as a 1.2 PureTech Peugeot 3008 Allure, and is some lb300 more over the same period for a less lavishly equipped Seat Ateca 1.0 115 SE Tech.
Recommendations
New Parents
Go for SE L, and add the lb35 front Isofix and space saver tyre. It’s already got great safety kit and keyless entry. Either petrol engine is a good bet.
Cost Conscious
Settle for SE 1.0 TSI 115, and get used to using Mirorrlink so you can make the most of using the nav function from your phone on the car’s screen.
Company car buyer
A 1.0 TSI 115 SE Tech has all the kit you need, and the engine is a peach even on the motorway.
Rivals
Seat Ateca
Sharper to drive, but without the versatile seating. A great value package.
Peugeot 3008
Funky styling and a more interesting-looking interior, and a better 1.6 diesel engine. The Karoq has better petrol engines, mind.
Volkswagen Tiguan
You’ll pay more for it, but it does feel classier inside and hold its value better.
Renault Kadjar
Great finance deals, and a spacious, inoffensive car.
Kia Sportage
Not so nice to look at in its replacement guise, but still a compelling all-round good-value choice.

Check out:
Peugeot 3008 1.6 BlueHDi GT Line: Living with it
Peugeot 3008 SUV vs Nissan Qashqai: Where should your money go?
2017 Renault Kadjar Review
2017 Seat Ateca Review
2017 Volkswagen Tiguan Review
2017 Volkswagen T-Roc review: A fashion-first VW
2017 Honda HR-V Review
2017 Kia Sportage Review
2017 Nissan Qashqai review: Still In Front

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