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In-depth reviews

Skoda Karoq review - Engines, drive & performance

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

Carbuyer Rating

4.3 out of 5

Owners Rating

4.1 out of 5

Read owner reviews
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 performance level for the Karoq’s intended range of customers, but a hybrid version is notably absent. Anyone wanting more power might be best off shopping elsewhere in the VW Group, as the Karoq doesn’t have a fast flagship to compete with the Cupra Ateca or Volkswagen T-Roc R. That said, the 187bhp Karoq 2.0 TSI SportLine isn’t exactly slouch, accelerating from 0-62mph in a brisk 7.0 seconds.

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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 on the centre console, with modes for Normal, Sport and Eco, as well as an off-road setting in Karoqs with four-wheel drive – although this is now a rudimentary button instead of a jog wheel. 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 DSG automatic models.

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Four-wheel drive is only available with the 2.0-litre diesel and petrol engines, but that’s no great shame, because 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, because power is automatically directed towards the front wheels until slip is detected anyway.

Petrol engines

Until recently, a 1.0-litre petrol would look out of place in an SUV like the Karoq, but with 109bhp, it can get the car from 0-62mph in a reasonable 11.2 seconds. It should be ideal for town driving and occasional longer trips, but isn’t 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.

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With 148bhp, the 1.5-litre TSI takes 8.8 seconds to cover the 0-62mph dash with the manual gearbox fitted. While it initially feels quite similar to the 1.0-litre in character, stronger acceleration in the higher gears makes it feel plenty quick enough for a family SUV.

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 187bhp is still available on the top-of-the-range SportLine, but steep running costs mean it’s a small seller here, although it remains on the brand’s price lists for now.

Skoda Karoq diesel engines

With 148bhp, the 2.0-litre TDI offers plenty of performance for most families, with a respectable 0-62mph time of 8.7 seconds. This provides enough performance for everyday driving, and it's fairly easy to overtake slower traffic or blast up steep hills, thanks in part to the snappy shifts from the DSG automatic transmission. 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.

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Andy is Carbuyer's managing editor, with more than a decade of experience helping consumers find their perfect car. He has an MA in automotive journalism and has tested hundreds of vehicles.

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