Skoda is a rising star in Australia, with sales performance so far this year up by 54 per cent. This is from an admittedly low base, but it's no mean feat for a little-known car brand to wade into a relatively small – but at the same time very competitive – Australian market.
And most of the recent success comes down to the Kamiq – a small SUV from the Czech brand.
Many brands have tried and failed to get a foothold in Australia, just ask the likes of Infiniti, Seat, Chery, Opel and Proton. Since returning to Australia in 2007, Skoda is now recording some solid success.
|2021 Skoda Kamiq 110TSI Limited Edition|
|Engine||1.5-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged petrol|
|Power and torque||110kW @ 6000rpm, 250Nm @ 1500–3500rpm|
|Transmission||Seven-speed dry dual-clutch automatic|
|Drive type||Front-wheel drive|
|Fuel consumption (claimed)||5.6L/100km|
|Fuel use on test||6.6L/100km|
|Boot size, seats up / down||400L / 1395L|
|ANCAP safety rating||Five-star (tested 2019)|
|Warranty (years/km)||Five years/unlimited kilometres|
|Main competitors||Mazda CX-30, Kia Seltos, Toyota C-HR, Hyundai Kona|
|Price as tested (drive-away)||$36,990|
We've previously reviewed the base-model Kamiq and the sport-styled Monte Carlo, but this time we're behind the wheel of the 2021 Skoda Kamiq 110TSI Limited Edition.
As the name suggests, the Limited Edition won't be a permanent fixture in the Kamiq range, and will be priced from $36,990 drive-away. And there is no optional equipment either, aside from choosing a colour. We've got Velvet Red, which costs an extra $1100.
First dropping down behind the wheel, I was remembering how enamoured my colleague Rob was with the entry-level Kamiq. However, that doesn’t guarantee success for this top-spec Limited Edition model. Value can go by the wayside as one climbs the ranks, and the extra garnishes can sometimes do little to improve the overall experience.
Although the pricing is identical, there is quite a bit of difference in specification between Monte Carlo and Limited Edition spec Kamiqs.
For our tester, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and wireless Apple CarPlay are standard, compared to being optional on the Monte Carlo. There's also a larger 9.2-inch infotainment display, automatic parking assist, leather seating upholstery and paddle shifters standard for the Limited Edition.
However, the Monte Carlo gets a panoramic sunroof, Sports Chassis Control with drive-mode selection, and a variety of blacked-out exterior details.
110TSI refers to a 1.5-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, which makes 110kW at 6000rpm and 250Nm at 1500–3500rpm. This runs through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission to the front wheels only.
Despite the lack of all-wheel drive there's a substantially large transmission tunnel running down the middle of the cabin. However, with front-drive only, that's a largely empty tunnel eating into passenger space.
This is enough power for a tepidly warm claimed 8.4-second dash to 100km/h, or in more sedate driving, using 5.6 litres of fuel per 100km. Once again, this is a claimed number. In our test, we used 6.6L/100km on average.
Because the European-sourced Kamiq conforms to strict Euro 6 emissions laws, it requires more expensive 95RON fuel. Nothing too unusual of course, most Euro compact models have been the same for some time.
Inside, the Kamiq impresses in this specification, and is strongly reminiscent of other Volkswagen Group (Skoda's parent company) cars: perforated leather on a flat-bottomed steering wheel, plenty of soft-touch materials and mixed textures throughout the cabin.
There's plenty of tech, as well: a larger 9.2-inch infotainment display is particularly crisp and quality, and backed up by a full-sized 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster. While this isn't as sharp as the main display, it can be adjusted aplenty and run as a full-sized map.
Interestingly, I experienced the same problem that Rob noted in his initial review, with AM radio interference coming from the sequential indicators. It's a small problem, but one compounded by the lack of any digital radio ability in the Kamiq.
The seats, comprising of leather, leatherette and Suedia (artificial suede), are comfortable and have electric adjustment for the driver. And for those in cold climates, front and rear outboard seats are heated.
Be warned: the Kamiq has only USB-C power outlets, so you'll need to pack either a cable or adapter to suit. There are two up front and two in the second row. There's also a 12-volt power outlet and an inductive charging pad. The central armrest is adjustable, just don't expect to fit much in the centre console.
For a small SUV, the Kamiq offers a good amount of space and comfort in the second row. We just fit a rearward-facing baby seat in, with enough room for a reasonably sized adult to be comfortable up front. There are ISOFIX points for all three rear seats, but fitting three child seats or adults in the back would be a squeeze.
There are plenty of nice touches in the Kamiq's boot, with more elastic netting than a stockings supplier to secure your gear, even some on the underside of the luggage blind. There are smart hooks that clip onto the top-tether points, extra storage nooks on each side, and a boot light that doubles as a removable torch.
There are some other unique touches around the Kamiq: A small umbrella stowed in the driver's door, and an even smaller secret storage spot under the front passenger seat. Well, maybe not so secret any more.
One big advantage of this Limited Edition model over the Monte Carlo is the ride. While other reviews have noted a firmness to the unique chassis tune that the Monte Carlo gets, the Limited Edition misses out on that set-up.
Instead, a less sporty chassis tune yields a more comfortable ride around town. And while some might prefer a more tied-down driving experience, I'd say better overall comfort and bump-absorbing ability, while still retaining good roadholding abilities, better suit the deportment of a small SUV.
And when viewed through that scope, the Kamiq offers great overall riding characteristics. Combine the willing powertrain and sharp-shifting DSG gearbox, and this little Skoda is plenty capable of slicing through traffic with aplomb.
However, the dual-clutch gearbox does have the odd brain-fart that can ruin parts of the experience. Partly, it's down to the stop-start system that kicks in as you roll to a stop. And partly, the operation of the dry clutch is imperfect. Combine the two at times, especially when you apply a heavy dose of throttle as the engine decides to switch off, and you can be caught with a lurching mess. It's infrequent, but it happens.
And it's a shame, because it inhibits an otherwise great experience behind the wheel of the Kamiq. The gearbox is particularly precise and smooth when at speed.
Goodyear Eagle F1 tyres mounted onto 18-inch wheels offer plenty of grip through corners, but can get slightly noisy on coarse-chip highway runs – not exactly a unique complaint.
The base-grade 85TSI Kamiq has proved to offer enough engine, interior space and practicality to make it something of a darling of the small-SUV segment – especially under that 30-grand price barrier. This higher-specced model does offer a good alternative, especially for those wanting a little bit more engine under the bonnet.
And the standard inclusions of upgraded infotainment, interior trimming and safety equipment help equal the value balance along with the bigger donk. Although the transmission is imperfect at low speeds, the Skoda Kamiq is a persuasive small SUV and well worth consideration.