Skoda Karoq 2021 review

The Karoq is Skoda’s mid-size family SUV that combines a roomy interior with great build quality

£19,127
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4
Out of 5

Pros

  • Roomy interior
  • Well-built cabin
  • Good to drive

Cons

  • Hard ride on largest alloys
  • Top-spec versions are a bit expensive
  • No electrified option
Model review

Skoda’s Yeti proved to be an instrumental car for this manufacturer, showcasing funky styling combined with a roomy interior in a small crossover/SUV package. It was a big hit for the firm, and it continues to be well-loved by many, with a very loyal customer base. 

But when it came to replacing the Yeti in 2017, it proved to be quite the challenge for Skoda – not least because it arguably lost some of its charm in the process. Debuting in 2017, the Karoq - which was due to retain the Yeti name until the very last minute - is very much a smaller sibling to the flagship Skoda Kodiaq in terms of its styling. 

It also brings a wealth of technology, including full-LED headlights, a large touchscreen and digital dials, along with the familiar TSI and TDI petrol and diesel engines that the brand is known for. First examples of the Karoq reached showrooms at the start of 2018.

Latest model

Skoda is yet to properly revise the Karoq, so the main changes so far focus around new trim levels and model year updates. 

Some of the most noticeable additions include the rugged Scout model, which brings chunkier looks and standard-fit four-wheel-drive (though this has since been discontinued) along with a SportLine model that brings racier styling into the mix. 

The most notable changes to look out came with the 2020 model year cars, which can be spotted by their ‘SKODA’ lettering spelt out across the boot of the Karoq, rather than just a Skoda badge like before. They also brought a more advanced driver assistance system.

Value for money

Skodas have consistently represented great value for money, and if you stick with lower trims, that remains the case today. SE Karoq models start from £23,675, which undercuts many in this class, and standard equipment is plentiful too – including electric folding mirrors, dual-zone climate control and an eight-inch touchscreen. Prices do rise considerably as you go up the range, with top-spec versions costing upwards of £30,000. At that point, the Karoq begins to feel a bit pricey. 

 

Prices are staying quite firm on the used market, too, with a 2018 car with around 50,000 miles on the clock still costing around £15,000. Despite the Karoq generally holding its value very well, you can still expect to save around £3,000 off the price of a nearly-new example, making these a credible alternative to a brand-new model.

Looks and image

Skoda’s largest Kodiaq SUV showed just how elegant the brand’s cars could be, and given the Karoq is essentially just a shrunken version, it certainly looks the part. With a neat front grille, split headlights and sharp crease lines, it manages to look classy, but never over the top. Even low-spec models still look good, though if you want the most street cred, it’s the SportLine versions you should look for – these bringing larger alloy wheels and a generally sportier look. 

If you’re used to modern Skoda interiors, the Karoq’s will come as no surprise. You get the brand’s familiar dials and switchgear, while its eight-inch touchscreen is slick to use and looks the part in its gloss black frame, too. Range-topping Editions also benefit from a larger 9.2-inch system. Though the quality and fit and finish throughout is excellent, its cabin does lack the excitement of rivals like the Hyundai Tucson. 

But one of the best things about the Karoq is the way it drives. It’s positioned perfectly for an SUV, and gets the balance between sportiness and comfort just right. It still feels agile if you’re pressing on, while a range of flexible engines are a great match for this Skoda too. Avoid the largest 19-inch alloy wheels, and the ride is brilliantly supple, and is undoubtedly one of the most comfortable in its class.

Space and practicality

Practicality is usually an area where Skoda models excel, and – again – the Karoq doesn’t disappoint. Its 521-litre boot is one of the largest in this class, while higher-spec cars come with ‘VarioFlex’ seats that let you slide the rear bench, depending on if you want more boot or passenger space. 

There’s plenty of rear seat space, while a range of versatile touches – such as storage nets in the boot and a range of cubby holes – are a great fit for keeping odds and ends out of the way. Perhaps the only gripe is that it doesn’t quite get the same level of standard driver assistance technology as some of its rivals, though it still scored a five-star safety rating when it was tested by Euro NCAP in 2017.

Engines

 Though yet to be available with any electrified powertrains, a broad range of petrol and diesel models ensures there will be something to suit most. 

A 108bhp 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine kicks off the range, combined with a six-speed manual gearbox. Though it does feel a bit underpowered at times, it’ll likely prove fine for drivers that spend most of their time around town. Next up is a 148bhp 1.5-litre petrol unit that gets the option of a six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox. At the top of the range – and exclusive to the SportLine version – is a 187bhp 2.0-litre petrol. This comes with an automatic gearbox and is the only petrol Karoq that comes with four-wheel-drive. With a 0-60mph time of just 6.8 seconds, it’s certainly no slouch.

All new diesel options revolve around a turbocharged 2.0-litre unit that’s available with outputs of 114bhp or 148bhp. Each gets a manual or automatic transmission option, with the most powerful also coming with four-wheel-drive when the DSG gearbox is selected. A 114bhp 1.6-litre diesel was also offered up until 2021.

Running costs

Stick to a diesel engine and the Karoq should prove to be quite affordable to run – with the 114bhp 2.0-litre model able to return up to 58.9mpg, with low CO2 emissions of 126g/km – impressive figures for a diesel SUV. Think twice about choosing all-wheel-drive unless you need it, though, as it does make models noticeably thirstier. 

The 1.0- and 1.5-litre petrol options should both average more than 40mpg too, though the top-spec 2.0-litre petrol will be quite costly to run. 

Insurance premiums should also be relatively affordable, while servicing won’t be any pricier than rivals either.

Things to look for

The Karoq should be a very reliable choice and is a model that’s ranked highly by owners – helped by the fact this Skoda remains a relatively new choice. The only thing to look out for is that seals in the boot can fail and let water in – so be aware if carpets are damp in the boot.

Rivals

 The Skoda Karoq arguably sits in one of the most competitive segments for the new car market, with a huge range of options. Key competitors include the Seat Ateca and Volkswagen Tiguan from within the VW Group, while the Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage are both worth considering, especially for their longer warranties. 

The Nissan Qashqai continues to be a solid alternative too, as does the Mazda CX-5 and Peugeot 3008. Though the Karoq is able to hold its own in this company, you could consider a Volvo XC40 or Range Rover Evoque if you fancy something a bit more upmarket, albeit at a price.

Depreciation

The Skoda Karoq is now one of this firm’s most popular cars, and strong demand for used cars continues to mean it generally holds its value well and doesn’t depreciate as heavily as others in this class.

Trims explained

A range of trim levels are available on the Karoq, with equipment highlights and pricing as follows.

SE

Standard equipment on the Karoq is generous and includes 17-inch alloy wheels, LED rear lights, electric folding door mirrors and an eight-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. You also get rear parking sensors, cruise control, automatic lights and wipers, dual-zone climate control and front assist.

From £23,675

SE Drive

Upgrading to the SE Drive brings revised 17-inch alloy wheels, satellite navigation, front parking sensors and a reversing camera. You also get specific model badging and floor mats included.

From £24,520

SE L

High-spec SE L models bring adaptive LED headlights, 18-inch alloy wheels, chrome roof rails and microsuede upholstery. Keyless entry and start, drive mode select and heated front seats are also added.

From £26,265

SportLine

SportLine models bring racier styling to the Karoq, adding large 19-inch alloy wheels, a black styling kit, sports seats and a sports steering wheel. The Karoq is also only available in more powerful engines.

From £29,265

Edition

At the top of the range, the Edition builds on the SE L with its large 19-inch alloy wheels, metallic paint and panoramic sunroof. You also get full leather upholstery, an electrically adjustable driver’s seat and a larger 9.2-inch touchscreen system, along with lane assist, blind spot monitoring and a boot that opens and closes electronically at the touch of a button.

From £30,890

Summary

  1. Skoda’s mid-size SUV
  2. Very spacious and well-built interior
  3. Classy styling
  4. Great range of petrol and diesel engines…
  5. No hybrid or electric model to choose from, unlike many rivals
  6. Good to drive and also comfortable
  7. Plenty of standard equipment
  8. Generally good value…
  9. Though top-spec models are pricey
  10. One of the best family SUVs on the market today