In-depth Reviews

Skoda Karoq SUV - Engines, drive & performance

Smooth suspension irons out most bumps and the Skoda Karoq is enjoyable to drive

Carbuyer Rating

4.3 out of 5

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Owners Rating

4.1 out of 5

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Engines, drive & performance Rating

4.0 out of 5

With engines ranging in size from 1.0 to 2.0 litres, there’s likely to be a suitable version for the Karoq’s intended range of customers. Anyone wanting more power might be best off waiting though, because faster versions are rumoured to be arriving in future, with a vRS high-performance model even being hinted at.

We’re big fans of the way the Skoda Kodiaq drives and with the Karoq essentially being a shorter and lighter version of that car, the stars should have aligned to make it even better. It’s certainly very accurate, thanks to sharp steering, and there’s little in the way of body lean. The suspension feels softer than the SEAT Ateca, so the Karoq also dispatches bumps more easily – a trait that’s likely to go down very well with families in the UK. The trade-off is that it’s not quite as nailed down at higher speeds, but this really is nitpicking.

Rather like you’ll find in a Land Rover Discovery Sport, there’s a driving mode selector wheel on the centre console, with modes for Normal, Sport and Eco, as well as an off-road setting in Karoqs with four-wheel drive. These change the sensitivity of the engine to your right foot, along with the heft of the steering and the calibration of the gearbox in automatic models.

Four-wheel drive is only available with the 1.5-litre petrol and 2.0-litre diesel and petrol engines, but that’s no great shame, as we don’t think it’s really necessary unless you live in a particularly rural area with frequent poor weather, and it has a noticeable impact on running costs. In normal conditions, it’s difficult to feel a difference, as power is automatically directed towards the front wheels anyway.

Some may be disappointed to learn the Karoq Scout isn't any more accomplished off-road than the regular four-wheel drive, although it does get some protective plastic panels underneath. In reality this shouldn't be an issue, as most Karoq drivers are unlikely to venture anywhere more extreme than a grass campsite or muddy track. If you need a proper small off-road SUV, something like a Jeep Compass is better suited to rough terrain.

Skoda Karoq diesel engines

The tried-and-tested 1.6-litre TDI has an identical 113bhp to the engine found in the SEAT Ateca and gets the Karoq from 0-62mph in 10.6 seconds. This should be plenty quick enough for most families, but the smaller diesel can be fairly noisy at certain revs and under acceleration. It takes 11 seconds to cover the same trial.

With 148bhp, the 2.0-litre TDI offers a tangible performance increase, reducing the 0-62mph time to 9.0 seconds. This should provide significantly more potent performance for everyday driving, making it easier to overtake slower traffic or blast up steep hills. Still, there’s no getting away from its high price, so the cheaper 1.5-litre TSI petrol is likely to suit most buyers better. A 188bhp version of the 2.0-litre diesel has also been launched, but unless you spend most of your time on the motorway or towing big trailers, we don't think it brings a significant advantage.

Petrol engines

Until recently, a 1.0-litre petrol would look out of place in a model like the Karoq, but with 113bhp, it can get the car from 0-62mph in a respectable 10.6 seconds. It should be ideal for town driving and occasional longer trips, but isn’t best suited to always being driven fully loaded or towing a heavy trailer. It’s a likeable engine, with a small turbocharger that does its best work between 2,000 and 3,500rpm, requiring you to keep it in this sweet spot.

With 148bhp, the 1.5-litre TSI takes 8.9 seconds to do 0-62mph with the manual gearbox fitted. It doesn’t have quite as much torque as the bigger diesel, though, so can feel less grunty if you put your foot down at higher speeds. We think it suits the Karoq better than the 1.0-litre, with a more relaxed character thanks to its wider power band. Not only does it provide punchier acceleration, it’s also a bit quieter. A 2.0-litre TSI petrol engine with 188bhp is also available, but steep running costs mean it's likely to be a small seller here.

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