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View all Skoda Karoq reviews
Parkers overall rating: 4.4 out of 5 4.4

Update 1: Introduction and spec

2019 Skoda Karoq red front

It’s not without slight trepidation that I’m here introducing my new Skoda, but only because Adam’s recently waved goodbye to one of the best all-rounders I’ve encountered since I began writing about cars over a decade ago. The Octavia Estate vRS 245 DSG – the big green dream machine – was so good in so many ways that it’s an incredibly tough act to follow.

But try to forget about that, because I’ve got the keys to a new Karoq SUV, and I’ll be spending six months trying to work out why you’d buy it over an identically priced medium-sized estate car.

That cost to buy outright? £32,535 once all options are included. The vRS mentioned above starts at £29,245.

This is the most athletic Karoq in the range, in Sportline specification with a 2.0-litre, 190hp motor, seven-speed DSG gearbox and all-wheel drive.

Skoda Karoq Sportline spec

  • 19-inch alloys
  • 8.0-inch multimedia system with DAB, Bluetooth, sat-nav, Android Auto and voice control
  • Rear-view camera
  • Cruise control with speed limiter
  • Dual-zone climate control
  • Panoramic, opening glass roof
  • Heated front seats
  • LED headlights, taillights, interior lighting and puddle lamps
  • Powered bootlid

On top of that little lot, which reads like a long list of luxurious features to me, I’ve gone for a couple of options. I spent £150 for a puncture-proofing space-saver spare wheel, and £550 for a speaker upgrade to the Canton system.

Skoda has yet to apply the velocity-focused vRS veneer to the Karoq, so for now if you want peppy performance this drivetrain is your lot. It’ll cover 0-62mph in 6.8 seconds, which means it’s a full two seconds quicker than the lesser petrol motor, the excellent 1.5 Evo that our testers preferred during the launch of the Karoq.

Personally, with the sorts of driving I do (25-minute commute, mainly A- and B-roads, relatively quick) I wouldn’t consider any of the diesel options these days. It’s far worse to drive and thanks to its demonisation by the Government costs are rising quickly when it comes to fuel and car tax. With this setup I’m promised average fuel economy of 33.2mpg, and a range of 484 miles between trips to the filling station. Will it beat that in the real world? There’s only one way to find out…

With its performance focus, this Karoq offers a different take on the small SUV compared with other top-spec versions in the line-up. The Edition offers a posher, more polished vehicle and the Scout is clad in plastic bumpers with a clear off-road bent.

However, I have gone for all-wheel drive. You don’t get a choice with my engine and gearbox, but I still wanted it because for reasons that will become clear over the coming months, I often find myself in the middle of fields, and sometimes they’re muddy. I don’t expect this Skoda to trouble any Land Cruisers in the off-roading stakes, but the confidence to leave the tarmac every so often will be very welcome indeed.

And so will the boot, which measures a useful 521 litres. The mathematicians among you will agree this is less than the Octavia Estate’s 610 litres, but the far higher loading lip in the Karoq redresses the balance somewhat. It’ll make hefting my heavy sailing kit a little easier, at least.

Despite the illusion created by a name like ‘Sportline’, I’m not expecting the Karoq to drive anywhere near as well as the Octavia. This is a tall car and doesn’t look particularly well suited to hammering around country lanes, whereas the vRS was an absolute joy on the right road. Will the little SUV surprise in the sporty stakes?

I’m curious to learn what life’s going to be like with the glass panoramic roof too, particularly when the weather is at its best. In the past I’ve found the cabin gets unfeasibly hot if left in the sun with no cover over the glass. Thankfully there’s an electrically retractable fabric sunblind installed, but whether I remember how to use it is another question altogether.

Anyway, suffice to say I’m looking forward to spending time with this car. In the few moments I’ve already spent with it I’ve noticed it’s already turning heads and people are stopping me to ask about it – something I truly wasn’t expecting – so I think it’s going to be a thrilling few months. I’d best go stick some miles on it!