Australians have to travel long distances – it's just the nature of our land. So, while cars from Europe and Asia tend to be focused on being urban-friendly, they also have to be comfortable for the long haul Down Under.
With the likes of the traditional Aussie family cars (think Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore) now confined to the pages of history, the waves of SUVs that are now the typical buyer's choice locally need to be the Swiss Army knives of family motoring regardless of their size and price range.
In the case of our long-term 2019 Skoda Karoq 110TSI, the smallish-medium European crossover presents a compelling case for itself.
We're now a few months into our loan, and there's been plenty of city driving in bumper-to-bumper traffic (you can check out our thoughts here) along with extended stints on Victoria's network of freeways and highways.
There have been plenty of comments on CarAdvice with sceptical views on the Karoq's drivetrain, but we can report that the little 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine is more than up to the task of highway touring.
All 250Nm of torque is available from just 1500rpm and stays on tap through to 3500rpm.
Unless you really need to stamp on the throttle to make a quick pass, the torque alone is enough to get you moving at triple-digit speeds without much fuss.
There is a bit of a gap between peak torque and maximum power, though, with the full whack of 110kW not coming through until the 6000rpm redline, but the Karoq does pull reasonably strongly right to the top end.
Skoda claims an official 0–100km/h time of 8.6 seconds, though we'd argue rolling acceleration is stronger given you don't have to worry about the DSG's occasional hesitation at launch and getting the front wheels to gain traction.
At speed, the seven-speed DSG transmission settles into its highest gear and has the engine spinning at around 1800rpm at a steady 100km/h cruise. Combined with the adaptive cruise-control system and lane-keep assist, the Karoq makes for a very relaxing ride.
Refinement on the freeway is pretty good, too. There's minimal wind noise, but there's a hint of tyre roar that gets more noticeable on rougher surfaces – though this could be down to the optional 19-inch wheels and low-profile Bridgestone tyres.
Standard rolling stock is a set of 17-inch wheels with taller sidewalls.
It's been quite efficient, too. While the overall indicated figure has been sitting in the mid 7s the whole time we've had it, flicking the instant readout on the freeway can see the figure drop to 3-4L/100km on a flat surface with the Active Cylinder Management (which cuts two of the four cylinders under low load) engaged.
There have been a number of occasions where I've been very surprised by the fuel figure shown in the trip summary when I've turned the vehicle off.
On one morning commute to work, the readout was 6.5L/100km following a stint along the Eastern Freeway (M3) and a mildly congested Punt Road.
Now that we've gathered my thoughts, I'll hand over to my lovely colleague, Mandy Turner, who has also spent plenty of time behind the wheel.
Mandy Turner – Road Tester & Podcast Host
To be honest, I wasn't expecting a lot from the small Karoq, as it had a lot to live up to from the bigger and impressive Kodiaq. But after using it as my chariot to Shepparton for my sister's wedding, I was pleasantly surprised.
Its low loading boot floor fitted my overnight bag, wedding presents, and a large random Mickey Mouse soft toy easily, so a giant green tick there.
The driving position was comfortable for the 2.5-hour trip each way, and I noticed the extra support for the lower back kept my posture aligned.
As James pointed out, I also found it has enough power for the typical everyday drive, and also found it to be quite responsive when overtaking trucks on the highway.
However, there was one thing that irritated me when on a multi-lane freeway.
When the adaptive cruise control is on, and the Karoq approaches a slower car to its right, it will slow down and match its speed. It's a feature designed to prevent 'undertaking' but becomes an issue when other drivers don't follow correct lane discipline A gentle touch of the throttle will get it back up to speed.
That aside, though, I had full faith in the cruise-control system, where it would at a maximum roll no more than 2km/h past the set speed on a decline.
It used around a half of its 50L fuel tank for the 500-odd-kilometre round trip. The overall average consumption up to this point of the loan read 7.5L/100km.
The Karoq was a pleasure to drive. It felt like my best mate – easy to spend time with.
MORE: Long-term report one: Introduction
MORE: Long-term report two: Cabin comfort and practicality
MORE: Long-term report three: Infotainment & tech
MORE: Long-term report four: Urban driving
MORE: Skoda Karoq news, reviews, comparisons and videos
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