Skoda Kamiq SUV review
“The Skoda Kamiq is everything good about Skoda wrapped up in a desirable small SUV package”
- Huge boot
- Plenty of tech
- Lacks individuality
- Not as desirable as a Volkswagen
- Powerful petrol engine not yet available
Before 2016, Skoda had never sold an SUV, but the Kamiq, launched in 2019, became its third in quick succession. Sitting below the Skoda Karoq and Skoda Kodiaq, the Kamiq takes on rivals in the small SUV market that include the SEAT Arona, Renault Captur and Hyundai Kona, and is helped by very competitive pricing.
Considering the success of rivals, it’s something of a surprise that Skoda has taken so long to release the Kamiq. Launched two years after the Karoq, the Kamiq follows the release of the Skoda Scala earlier in 2019. If you’d been putting off the purchase of your next car until the Kamiq arrived, you shouldn’t be disappointed - it’s as good we’d hoped it would be.
The Skoda Kamiq’s 4x4-inspired styling will appeal to many buyers and, just like the Karoq and Kodiaq, it comes with fashionable split-level headlights and LED daytime running lights. It’s 60mm taller than the Scala and its roof rails and faux scuff plates make it look much more rugged. We think it’s one of the smartest small SUVs, with handsome yet inoffensive styling.
Besides the styling, much of the Kamiq is shared with the Scala and other VW Group models. It sits on the same platform as the Volkswagen Polo and Skoda Scala, and uses a range of familiar engines. Most of the interior componentry isn’t new either, although the Kamiq was first in its class for offering wireless Apple CarPlay along with Android Auto.
We certainly aren’t complaining about the shared parts in the Kamiq because there's a certain reassurance from the knowledge they're tried and tested across Skoda, Volkswagen and SEAT. As with the rest of the Skoda range, the interior feels solid and very well put together, so it should stand up to family life with ease. The controls are intuitive, while many of the bits you’ll touch are trimmed in leather or soft-touch materials.
One diesel and two petrol engines were available from launch, with the petrols the top sellers. Go for petrol and, for now, you get a 1.0-litre engine with either 94 or 113bhp, while the diesel was a familiar 1.6-litre engine with 113bhp, that has now been discontinued. A 148bhp 1.5-litre petrol engine, with cylinder-on-demand technology is also available, but after driving it in the UK, we think the 1.0-litre will be perfectly adequate for most drivers, while offering better value. Stick with this and the Kamiq will average around 45mpg, while the diesel can manage up to 56.5mpg.
The Kamiq feels secure on the road, and light controls make it easy to drive. Despite being taller than the Scala, it still handles neatly without much body roll. It’s also refined even at motorway speeds, and cushions most bumps like a more expensive car. While it’s not quite as fun in corners as the SEAT Arona, it provides the ideal balance between sweet handling and comfort, making it ideally suited to UK roads.
Trim levels are typical for Skoda, and they mirror those of the Scala. Entry-level S models have alloy wheels, DAB radio and air conditioning, while mid-spec SE is likely to be the most popular version. It comes with a larger infotainment screen, smartphone mirroring, cruise control and parking sensors. SE L offers larger wheels, two-zone climate control and sat nav, but it's a few grand more expensive and the larger alloy wheels increase road noise, making the SE our top pick. There's also a sporty Monte Carlo range-topping model that's desirable thanks to its full LED headlights, panoramic glass roof and attractive 18-inch alloy wheels. It also gets a makeover inside, receiving sports seats and flashes of red trim, along with a sports steering wheel.
Skoda has built its reputation on practicality and clever features, and the Kamiq doesn’t let the brand down. Its boot is impressive at 400 litres - that’s more than a Volkswagen Golf - and there’s room for two six-foot adults to sit behind each other. With reasonably big windows, the Kamiq feels more spacious than its size suggests. There are myriad ‘Simply Clever’ features too, including an ice scraper in the fuel filler cap and an umbrella in the front door.