Parkers overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 4.5
  • Three petrol options and one diesel
  • All should be enough for most buyers
  • Choice of manual and auto gearboxes

A choice of familiar petrol and diesel engines found elsewhere in the VW Group are available for the Kamiq, kicking off with a 1.0-litre TSI with either 95hp or 115hp. The former comes with a five-speed manual gearbox only, while the latter comes with a choice of six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG automatic.

The 115hp unit is expected to be most popular among buyers in the UK, and it’s a good all-round choice as it’s plenty nippy enough around town, but also flexible and powerful enough on the motorway and for long journeys. It’s impressively refined, too. It’s the second quickest in the range with a 0-62mph time of 9.9 seconds. While more expensive than the less powerful 95hp version, it is more than a second quicker to 62mph and pulls with less hesitancy at speed. Adding a DSG gearbox adds 0.1 sec to the time. The 115hp engine also provides 200Nm of torque to the 95hp’s 175Nm, making it the better performer for longer journeys. For example, it handles 40mph in sixth gear comfortably, and 30mph in fifth.

1.5 TSI feels pretty quick for a car of this size. 0-62mph comes up in 8.3 seconds (DSG adds 0.1 seconds) and in gear acceleration is strong too. One problem with this engine is that it often wastes power with wheelspin. The intrusive traction control will too easily kick in, even when you're just exiting a wet roundabout at sensible speeds.

When this engine is teamed with the DSG automatic gearbox, normal mode is the one to go for. Eco is also pretty good and doesn't dull throttle response enough to become annoying. Whereas in Sport mode, throttle response is a bit too sharp. This means when you put your foot down on the accelerator, it will too often kick down three gears when really you just wanted to make a bit more progress. No behind the steering wheel gearbox paddles either.

Few buyers will opt for the 1.6-litre TDI diesel, which is a shame because it offers good performance. If you cover higher mileages (say, at least 15,000 miles per year) you shouldn't hesitate about picking this engine. With 115hp and 250Nm of torque, it’s a stronger option than the petrols for long-distance journeys and overtaking manoeuvres, however just around town it can feel a bit more lethargic than the petrol and makes quite a bit more engine noise. It takes 10.2 seconds to complete the 0-62mph sprint with the manual gearbox. A 550-mile tank is also huge for such a small car.

The manual is precise to use like it is in any VW Group product, requiring little effort to change gear and with light weighting to the controls that makes it easy to drive. Unless you really need the automatic, we’d stick to the manual as the auto can be a little hesitant at times. Although we will say that the gears are very long. In sixth, 70mph registers at just over 2000rpm. This is good for economy, but flitting between 40mph and 60mph in tight hilly areas means multiple gear changes. Not what you want from a diesel.

Drive modes are an optional extra in the Kamiq, with Eco, Normal, Sport and an Individual mode to choose between. We’d just leave the car in Normal as the Sport mode makes the steering feel a bit too heavy for a small car like this.

How does it handle?

  • Handles more like a hatchback than SUV
  • Good blend of comfort and balance
  • Optional Sport Chassis Control

Traditionally, Skoda cars offer a more comfort-focused driving experience than an equivalent SEAT, but the Kamiq manages to balance feeling refined and comfy with nimble enough handling.

By no means is it a sports car (nor is it intended to be) and most buyers will be more interested in its easy-to-drive characteristics, but we found it handles well on a twisty road – it doesn’t feel wayward or difficult to handle. Bodyroll is kept mostly in check, although more roll can really be felt at roundabout speeds in comparison to the Seat Arona.

Cars fitted with optional Sport Chassis Control (15mm lower than standard cars) (adaptive suspension), respond well to lumps and bumps and keep the car stable when changing direction. However, even the standard set-up is one of control and poise, so it’s not really worth paying the extra cash as it’s already a fine blend between the sharper SEAT Arona and comfortable T-Cross.

The steering is nice and light without feeling like you don’t know what’s going on when you turn the wheel, but you can weighten this up via the drive mode selection if you like. We probably wouldn’t bother as it can feel artificially heavy for a light and nimble crossover.

The good visibility helps with how easy the Kamiq is to drive as well, and the driving position – while surprisingly low for a car with SUV aspirations – is comfortable and easy to adjust, helping you feel in control.