FIRST DRIVE Skoda's medium SUV, the utterly brilliant Karoq, has had a midlife facelift
We got a spin in the facelifted Skoda Karoq this week and thankfully for us (slightly closeted) Skoda fans, they have only managed to improve it and leave all the good bits alone.
In fact, Skoda believes that this refreshed Karoq will outsell the Kodiaq in 2022, trailing second to the Octavia in the impressive Skoda sales numbers.
The mid-cycle refresh sees it benefit from more modern technology options and aerodynamic improvements, which the brand hopes will catapult them over Kia into third spot in the annual rankings next December.
It will certainly jump above 15 per cent of Skoda sales this year, which it reached the last few years as part of an overall tally of 5,043 sales between launch (2017) and the end of March 2022. They sold over half a million Karoqs around the world, by the way.
That’s a lot of cars to sell for a model that is so regularly overlooked by its big brother, the Kodiaq.
So, what is there to shout about in this slightly newer better version?
Just to be clear: it is more expensive. But don’t let the asking price put you off, because they have loaded it up with a lot of new standard features that you would have had to option on previous versions.
Like the newer newer models in the range, the Karoq gets the new, chunkier hexagonal grille design. Reshaped headlight units are slimmer and are available with full-LED Matrix technology for the first time in this model. Minor visual changes to the lower bumper section are visible on the outer edges too.
There is a redesigned bumper and new light clusters that use LED technology as standard. And there are a few subtle styling improvements to help the car’s aerodynamics, improving the fuel economy by a very small but welcome amount.
The 17-inch and 19-inch alloy designs also feature plastic trim inserts that are claimed to help airflow across the face of the rim, with less disruption and aerodynamic drag. I only had it for a short stint, but I’ll take Skoda’s word for it.
Inside, tweaks are minimal. There’s a new optional Eco Pack, which includes seat covers that are made from more sustainable materials.
Vegan-friendly leather-like materials made from recycled plastic bottles are complemented by armrests covered in fancy microsuede.
Skoda is still not planning on electrifying their current line-up, so while you can have five different engine options in this SUV, you can’t get a PHEV or EV version. When I questioned the bosses on this, they simply said their EV efforts will be purely focused on their impressive exclusive EV range of cars.
The Karoq range starts with a turbocharged three-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol unit that produces 110hp and is only available with a six-speed manual gearbox, driving the front wheels.
I reckon the best seller will be the 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol option with a 150hp output. Both six-speed manual and seven-speed automatic gearboxes are available. If you’re asking me, take the automatic.
To drive – it’s a dream. The DSG system is still one of the best in the business and having driven an electric Volvo for a full week in advance of this short drive, I can hand on heart tell you that the steering is better in the Karoq.
As with all Skodas, there is a giant boot and bucket loads of space in row two. I took a Karoq on a two-week road trip around the UK back in 2018 and all four Keanys had plenty of space. We loved it then and I think this new version may be even better.
I am hoping to get it for a full week later in the year for a full review. Watch this space.
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