Want an affordable entry into European SUV motoring? Then the $35,990 Skoda Karoq 110TSI finished in Candy white, could be the one for you. Bear in mind that this is national pricing too, not locale-specific by any means. Nor is it a promotional effort either. You can access one at that price for the foreseeable future.
It is worth noting the Koleos is on special at the moment, from $32,990 drive-away – but you have to make your decision before the end of August in order to receive this deal, according to the disclaimer.
Other comparable choices include the Kia Sportage SX, but that too suffers from the same price technicality as the Koleos. Regular pricing sees this model cost a pip under $37k with on-road costs depending on your location, but is on offer for $32,990 currently until the end of August, too.
The reason why I premise this article with a deep dive into costings is because vehicle pricing can be quite confusing in Australia. Even more so when you try to assess it nationally. There's list prices, campaign 'special' drive-away prices which can time out, as well as often undisclosed on-road prices, which vary based on the taxation levels of each state.
We usually quote manufacturer list prices (MLP) in our articles to avoid this, but Skoda offer their vehicles at a fixed, national drive-away price, all the time. That means when drawing comparisons, it is only fair to look at the competitors from the same standpoint.
Based on the above, that makes the Karoq an affordable entry into Medium-sized SUV motoring in general, then.
Even with that in mind, the Karoq 110TSI doesn't feel budget at all.
I love a good brand promise, and Skoda's "simply clever" is a wonderful one. It says to me, this car has odd, dorky features that your dad would like. It also sounds like something a dad would say, too. Despite their daggy nature, it's hard to fault the ergonomic prowess of such dad sentiment.
What I don't love however is when a brand promise only ties into some products, and not all.
Thankfully, this isn't the case with the entry-level Karoq 110TSI. Skoda has crammed all of those little trinkets into the base model, too.
Starting from the rear and going forward, there's a plethora of cargo nets in the boot. Three of the things, in order to organise your groceries to perfection, or just to keep your kid's stuff neatly stowed away, instead of rolling around the back. Parents, you will love it. There's also a pair of sliding rear hooks, again great for hanging general paraphernalia.
A removable torch, too. Handy.
On top of these fun things, the expected stuff is still excellent. Boot space starts from a decent 479 litres. If you slide the second row seats as far forward as they go, you end up with a solid 588 litres to fill.
In this configuration, it's pretty hard to sit anyone in the second row, mind you. Consider it a nice space booster for when you're riding with one passenger to your favourite flat-pack furniture store.
Speaking of the second row, Skoda's 'varioflex' seating arrangement will continue to appeal to those who love convenience, or those 'nice to have' types who find a bit of security in knowing that they're prepared for a potential one-time event.
Each seat in the second row folds upwards against the first row, creating 1605 litres of space. If that wasn't enough, from this position, you can swiftly unlatch each seat to remove them completely. In this optimum hauler configuration, you bring cargo capacity up to a huge 1810 litres.
That statement alone sounds like dad-talk from a suburban BBQ somewhere. Or maybe a rebuttal to one who initially criticised the person who rocked up to said BBQ in the weird Skoda thing.
"Didn't they make the Roomster? That thing was strange."
"Mate, it has got more space than a Range Rover!"
Either way, foolish imaginary scenarios aside I decided to run through them all individually as I actually used all of them, bar one, during my time with the Karoq.
Gimmick or not, or whether I'd have gotten the same outcome with or without them set aside, they did make my life easier and did genuinely come in handy. So they deserved some love. From Dad.
Back on topic with the second row, a pair of device holders grace the rear of the front seats. Depending on your parenting style, some will find these very handy, others may feel as if the anti-Christ has manifested itself into their new Skoda. Regardless, they're included as standard equipment.
More broadly speaking, passenger room is fair. Behind my driving position, I had adequate space, with good headroom to boot. Larger child seats will also slot nicely in place, and you'll have no issues with two seats in either outboard locations.
Fitting three across the back will be a challenge, if not impossible, depending on the widths of the three baby seats chosen. You'll find a pair of air vents in the centre console, alongside a sole 12-volt power outlet to round things out.
Up in the first row, the trinkets continue. In one of the two front door pockets will be a little storage bin. It's no more than an opening lid with a plastic bag attached, but either way, it's clever receptacle for any in-cabin wrappers or apple cores from young passengers that might need a place to stay.
Everything up here is typical of either Skoda or Volkswagen products. Ergonomics are well thought out, switchgear is logically placed, easy to understand, and visibility remains clear.
Interesting too, that as standard, even on this base model, you receive a fully-digital instrument cluster. You don't get that on an entry model Volkswagen Tiguan Trendline. Nor do you get keyless entry and start either, with the VW.
There's some active safety as standard, but not all the bells and whistles. Autonomous emergency braking is there, as is adaptive cruise control. Everything else is found on the options list. The 8.0-inch touchscreen is good considering the price, and comes with all forms of smartphone connectivity that are relevant. If you'd like something fancier, again, consult the options list, as a 9.2-inch item is available for extra, bundled with navigation, wireless charging, digital radio, premium audio, a powered tailgate and more as part of a bundled Tech Pack.
Despite my love for leather, or even high-quality faux leather, the denim-like fabric doesn't look cheap and nasty, nor like it'll wear out within a short period of time. It's also dark and easy to clean too, so if you have kids, as I do, don't be too put off by this point.
Habitability remains a strong point for the Karoq. You feel as if you're getting a lot of car for the money, despite it being the entry point in the range. I don't know of many cars (that are not a Skoda) with equal amounts of quirky touches as this has, let alone as many quirks which are double faceted with a side of usefulness.
Powering the MY20.5 Karoq 110TSI is a 110kW 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine, which generates a fair 250Nm of torque from 1500 to 3500rpm. It transmits power through a torque-converter eight-speed automatic transmission, direct to the front wheels only. This 1.4-litre engine and torque-converter combo is new for the Karoq, and you can read more about that here.
If all-wheel drive is a must, then you'll have to move up the range to the Karoq 140TSI.
The difference between the new, smaller displacement engine, and old, larger one, is imperceptible. To be perfectly honest, I led myself to believe that I was actually testing the previous 1.5-litre turbocharged driveline. I did not notice any difference in the way the car performed, including the operation of the transmission too, for that matter. If you're concerned about the decrease in engine size, or that the new torque-converter automatic may sap too much from too little, don't sweat it.
It's fine for the job of powering the Karoq through metro areas, and in-and-out of situations such as lanes or motorway on-ramp merges. If you're coming from something with a bit of oomph, however, you'll notice the lack of top end that it has.
Getting off the mark and initial dashes from lower speeds up until 70km/h are managed just fine. It's the faster stuff, such as overtaking in 110km/h zones, where you notice its wee capacity. Once the initial wave of torque has come and gone, the engine feels partially flat and lethargic up until the red line.
This becomes compounded if the car is filled with adults, or stuff, given your pals may be wanting to take advantage of those removable seats more often than you'd like. Despite that, with four onboard, it remains satisfactory for inner-city hopping and suburban antics, which these types of cars are mostly subjected to.
Maintaining the new 1.4-litre Karoq is exactly $40 more expensive versus the older car over a five-year time period, or 75,000km distance, when paying as you go. The total bill would come in at $2241.
It makes most sense however to opt for one of the pre-paid servicing packs. The five-year plan, to match the warranty, costs just $1400, or an annualised figure of $280. That makes maintaining a Karoq $841 cheaper if you pay ahead of time, and neatly matches-up pre-paid servicing with the vehicle's warranty duration of five years (as well as unlimited kilometres).
Compared to others, a Kia Sportage SX costs $1931 to maintain over the same five-year period. Toyota only lists the first four years' worth of servicing on its website, which for a RAV4 GX, comes in at just $860. Bear in mind that the fifth, possibly major service, may sting a little.
If paying up front and not as you go, the Karoq is relatively affordable to maintain. It's cheaper than a Kia Sportage SX to the tune of $531 over a five-year period.
Speaking of planned expenses, over the duration of the loan, the Karoq 110TSI returned 7.8 litres of fuel use per every 100km traveled. The official figure is 6.6, meaning it finished up within the realm of acceptability.
It's worth mentioning that compared to the outgoing 1.5-litre model, this new version is actually less efficient. To be exact; the new 1.4-litre engine will use 0.8 litres more per every 100km travelled versus the old 1.5-litre, according to official figures.
I'll also note that I conducted more highway driving than sheer gridlock commuting, so expect that figure to worsen once normality hopefully begins to return, and traffic begins to reappear in the size and scale that we were all once used to.
It's a nice place to be though. It rides fantastically well, blanketing you from the nasty, ever-present threats that are crappy road surfaces. You won't find any of that fidgety, over-sprung, large wheel-small tyre sort of nonsense here with a Skoda. Its steering 'feel' is also great. First appearing light; later becoming relatively coherent, Volkswagen Group seems to do a fantastic job in this particular area, regardless of the product family or brand.
I wax lyrical about Skoda's ride comfort every time I test one for one simple reason - its suspension set-ups just work for us here in Australia. Skoda manages to achieve this while so many others get it so wrong for our market.
This isn't a dynamic, performance-pretender SUV with huge wheels and some unnecessary body kit. It's a family car, complete with small wheels and bulgy tyres, that's designed to get you to where you need to go, comfortably. That's all it needs to do, really.
And it nails it, in an honest fashion. What I mean by that backhanded compliment is that the level of body control exhibited by the Karoq's underpinnings is not textbook A grade material, despite that notion being somewhat expected.
I'd be telling fibs if a bit of flabby body control wasn't the order of the day on a good road. It's acceptable however, given how good its ride quality remains. it would've been a fair disservice not to mention it, as I do understand that some enjoy their cars firm and body control rigid.
It's also worth mentioning here that the only other downside encountered with the suspension were that particular events, the ones that request large amounts of compression from the suspension, did result in some harshness.
It's as if there just isn't enough movement, or travel, from the suspension units themselves to cater for such big impacts. I noticed this too in the Tiguan 110TSI that I also tested a while back, albeit less pronounced here in the Skoda. It also happened rarely so, but again, worthy of a mention.
Despite a few shortcomings, there's a lot to get excited about with this car, especially if you're a young family in search of some reprieve from the hard yards. It's comfortable, well proportioned, full of unique little tidbits that genuinely add some value, while remaining oddly different and somewhat irregular.
A solid package, in my books.