- Several petrol and diesel engines on offer
- 1.5-litre TSI and 2.0-litre TDI provide enough performance
- Base 1.0-litre TSI struggles in the Karoq
The Skoda Karoq’s performance is capable if unspectacular, the medium-sized SUV boasting a range of capable petrol and diesel engines for customers to choose from.
The smallest engine on offer in the Karoq is the 1.0-litre TSI 115hp. This produces 200Nm of torque and can accelerate from 0-62mph in 10.6 seconds (10.7 for the DSG automatic), reaching an eventual top speed of 116mph. The base 115hp petrol is refined and perfectly capable in and around town, however does begin to struggle on motorways and during overtaking manoeuvres. If you’ll regularly be loading the car up with passengers and luggage or do mega motorway miles, we’d avoid the 115hp 1.0-litre petrol.
Next up is the 1.5-litre TSI 150hp, capable of going from 0-62mph in 8.4 seconds (8.6 for the automatic) and on to a top speed of 126mph. Maximum torque is rated at 250Nm. The 150hp 1.5-litre petrol, meanwhile, is far punchier and offers up noticeably better acceleration and motorway pulling power. It is noticeably noisier than the 1.0-litre (especially at high revs) so bear this in mind before buying.
In October 2018 a 190hp motor was introduced for the Sportline trim. It's the most powerful and responsive engine in the line-up, with smooth power delivery and strong acceleration if you need it. It may not be the most sensible option, but works very well in the Karoq.
Like the petrol variants, there are three different diesel engines on offer starting with the 1.6-litre TDI 115hp. This produces 250Nm of torque and is capable of accelerating from 0-62mph in 10.7 seconds (10.9 for the automatic), reaching a top speed of 116mph.
Next up is the 2.0-litre TDI 150hp, which comes with a choice of front- or four-wheel drive. Torque is rated at 340Nm while 0-62mph is taken care of in 8.7 seconds (9.3 for the automatic). Top speed is 121mph.
Opting for the 150hp 2.0-litre diesel would be considered the safe option – and it’s not hard to see why. While a touch noisier than you might expect, it’s got enough pulling power on motorways and is the motor of choice if you plan on using the Karoq as a tow car.
If you need some extra grunt, there's a 190hp 2.0 TDI, coming with a DSG transmission and four-wheel drive as standard, but it wasn't on Skoda's pricelists as of August 2019, having previously been available in higher-spec models.
Small gains from the 2.0 TDI diesel
Performance-wise the 150hp TDI engines is slightly down on the 1.5 petrol, despite having an identical 150hp power output and 90Nm more torque at 340Nm available between 1,750-3,000rpm. Top speed is quoted at 121mph for the diesel (a drop of 5mph compared with the petrol), while 8.4 seconds is required for the 0-60mph sprint (0.3 seconds slower).
The chief culprit for the drop-off is the extra weight – unladen the 2.0-litre TDI in Edition specification is 183kg heavier than the 1.5-litre TSI.
That heft also dents the diesel’s fuel efficiency, with an official claim of 56.5mpg barely bettering the TSI’s 51.4mpg figure. Back in the real-world it mustered 48mpg on test, but given that with an automatic-gearboxed TSI we achieved 43mpg it’s not all that impressive.
It’s a flexible motor, though, meaning you don’t have to use the six-speed manual transmission much once you’ve got into top gear, although it can’t match the quieter TSI petrol for overall refinement.
Six-speed manual and seven-speed DSG option available
All engine variants offer the choice of either a six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox. The former is precise-enough and easy-to-use, while the latter offers super-slick well-timed changes as well as a manual override function.
Skoda Karoq SE L 1.5 TSI 150PS DSG (Tested: January 2018)
For anyone who's looking to make the switch from diesel to petrol, the arrival of Volkswagen Group's excellent 1.5-litre TSI Evo engine is well-timed. In the Karoq it develops a relaxed 150hp for sprightly on-paper performance and encouraging efficiency (127g/km and 50.4mpg combined). The on-paper gusto is borne out on the road – it's refined, and a pleasure to drive quickly (0-62mph takes a claimed 8.6 seconds for a 126mph maximum speed), but the real story is how grown up it feels.
Thanks to a wide spread of torque, you can change up early and generally drive it like a diesel – and still make decent progress. In the time we had the car, it was also relatively economical, delivering a real-world 43mpg (which compares with the 50mpg you'd typically expect from the equivalent 2.0 TDI version).
How does it handle?
- Sharp handling sacrificed in the pursuit of comfort
- Still perfectly stable and grippy on all roads
- Off-road ability will almost certainly exceed customers’ needs
Despite sharing a platform (and many mechanical components) with the SEAT Ateca, the Skoda Karoq feels significantly different to drive. Rather than go down the route of making the car feel sharp and ‘sporty’, Skoda has engineered the Karoq to be soft and comfortable.
If you’re looking for a ‘sporty’ SUV, stop reading now as the Karoq doesn't fit into that category. That’s not to say it’s not nice to drive, it just has a rather more relaxed way of doing things. The steering for example, while accurate and well-weighted, isn’t particularly sharp or communicative. You still get a good idea of how the car is behaving, but it’s not up there with the SEAT Ateca or Ford Kuga for example.
In normal driving conditions the Karoq flows nicely from corner to corner and, despite its relatively large size, is easy to pilot through narrow city streets and tight, ninety-degree turns. Push on faster into corners and you’ll start to notice the body of the car roll – although never to extent where it feels wayward or unsafe. Grip levels are about average for a car in this class, and – once you do run out of purchase – there’s just enough feel in the steering wheel to let you know the front of the car is beginning to push wide of the intended line.
Parking is made easier thanks to standard fit rear parking sensors, plus there is also the option to add front parking sensors, a reversing camera and automatic parking. The Karoq’s off-roading credentials are more-than-adequate for the vast majority of customers, with hill-descent control and an off-road drive mode fitted as standard on 4x4 models.