27 June 2018

Skoda Karoq 2018 Car Review

Skoda has taken a while to regain a decent foothold in New Zealand. But the brand’s habit of leveraging the might of the VW R&D department and the German auto giant’s tech to create a suite of well-thought-out vehicles at the relatively value end of the VW Group’s price range has resulted in a beachhead of owners here in New Zealand.

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Skoda Karoq
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Skoda Karoq
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Skoda Karoq
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Skoda Karoq
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Skoda Karoq
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Skoda Karoq

Karoq is one of the latest offerings, slotting in under the Kodiaq to further build the brand’s soft-roader range in our SUV-obsessed market, and we covered its launch back in April.

This time we got to drive it on familiar roads, and try the very clever Varioflex seats which in our test car came with the $2500 Plus Pack along with leather upholstery, a sports steering wheel with paddles to change gears in the DSG auto transmission, and steel foot pedals. If you just want the clever seats, add $1765 to the purchase price.

For starters, the Varioflex system lets you slide the row two seatbases forward and back by 150mm to increase or reduce space behind or in front of them. At their forward extent row two still has legroom, and there’s a generous 588 litres of boot space. Got tall teens? Push the seats back to accommodate lanky legs, and carry 479 litres of guff.

If the kids want to sleep, pull a loop on any seat to lean it back by 13.1 degrees – not massive, but enough to make a difference. Want more luggage space? The backrest of each of those three seats, individually or together, can fold onto its base, and another pull of its rear lever swivels the whole seat forward out of the way –only the centre head restraint needs removal, and tucking into the footwell. Then pull a hook from each seat and loop it around the front head restraint mount to keep it folded away.

With only the outside two seats in action, that centre rear seat back folds forward to act as a cupholder and armrest. With all three seats folded away, there’s a cavernous 1605 litres of luggage space to the roof. STILL not enough? Each of the three row-two seats unlatches to remove them from the car, and release 1810 litres –nearly two cubic metres, more than enough to move a student into their flat in just one run: don’t tell the neighbours or they’ll all be asking for favours.

There are added bonuses to the flexibility. You could put the two outer seats back in, but further from the doors, for plenty of elbow room each side: put only one back in or, of course, all three.

Sure, you don’t have the three rows of seats of the Kodiaq, but for the average family such flexibility is wonderful. Almost any family combo can be accommodated, not to mention a wide array of those infrequent but necessary trips to carry large items or quantities.

The extremely well-thought-out set-up shouldn’t come as a surprise, given everyday practicality is Skoda’s byline. Which means along with the flexible VW-family diesel under the bonnet, and a smart, well-laid-out cabin with easy-to-use ergonomics, much as any family SUV of this size might boast, come an array of features and details that suggest the company tapped into the mums and dads on its team to think of this car as they would a vehicle they want to buy, not just sell.

So there’s a sliding rail on the boot wall with sturdy hooks to hold bags, and prevent them from flying around. There’s a little retainer around the wheel arch top to hold small items. There are luggage tie-down loops, a 12V charger outlet, and of course the boot light that doubles as a pop-out torch. Even the optional ($1650) tow bar is a design miracle, for it folds out of the way and clicks into a slot under the rear bumper, to save your shins when it’s not in use, and swivels out and locks into place when you’ve something to tow.

What with all that, the rest – including the quiet and efficient diesel with its 370Nm torque hit available all the way from 1750rpm to 3000, just as peak power arrives, the seven-speed VW family DSG auto and the handsome, if restrained, exterior lines — are just the icing on the cake, even before you check out the suite of safety aids. They naturally include blind spot assist, emergency braking with pedestrian recognition, lane-keep assist, rear traffic alert, and front and rear park sensors with a rear-view camera – items a harassed and busy parent needs to keep the family safe even when the driver is juggling 101 different worries at once.

Sadly, it all comes at a price. This top-spec turbo diesel ‘Style’ version retails at $48,490 even without those useful extras. As tested, with the Plus Pack including the leather seats and the Varioflex system and tow bar, the total reaches $52,640. That’s not cheap, but for an active family who will make full use of those extras, it’s definitely worth trying to juggle your budget …

At a glance


Skoda Karoq Style TDI


2.0-litre turbo diesel


$48,490 ($52,640 as tested)

ANCAP safety rating


Power and Torque

110kW at 3500-4000rpm, 340Nm at 1750-3000rpm


Seven-speed DSG

Fuel economy


Towing capacity




Seating capacity


Luggage capacity/payload


Safety systems

Seven airbags

Emergency braking

Adaptive cruise control

Lane keep assist

Blind spot detect

Rear traffic alert

Front and rear park sensors with rear view camera

Corner functioning fog lights

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