Launched in 2017, the KAROQ was Skoda’s (Shkoda’s) second SUV (after the hugely successful Kodiaq) in their lineup. Despite its more urban/city focus it offered its owners ample space and plenty of the brand’s ‘clever’ mantra. Anyway, it’s now had a refresh and Skoda NZ let us take the Sportline out for a while.
The Karoq enjoyed customer and critical acclaim almost immediately after its release and has gone on to win best car awards and become one of the brand’s best sellers. However, the time has come to give the model a refresh and the Skoda team have evidently jumped on the opportunity, with a fresh design, improved aerodynamics and sustainable materials in the interior.
As outlined, my review model was the Sportline edition and therefore (currently) top of the line. A brief walkaround had me looking at the wider, hexagonal grille sitting between its slimmer headlights with (for the first time) matrix and LED corner lighting. The 19-inch ‘Sagitarius’ aerodynamically optimised alloys and “sunset” tint for side and rear windows complement the modern SUV’s profile, while the rear comes with LED taillights and a longer rear spoiler.
The exterior improvements may be subtle but they embrace the brand’s design language and the new wheels, rear window finlets (as seen in aircraft construction) and a new rear spoiler all improve the car’s aerodynamics (0.30 – 9% better) and making the Karoq one of the most aerodynamic cars in its segment, all while lowering its CO2 emissions.
Under the sculpted bonnet my model boasted a 2L turbocharged engine (140kW/320Nm) that drives the 4WD system through a 7-Speed DSG. Fuel economy sits at 7.3L/100km and emission are 169g/km, but more importantly for those that like to get places quickly, the Karoq Sportline gets from 0 to 100km/h in 7 seconds – more than enough to impress the kids.
The interior features new upholstery which, as an option, can be made from sustainable materials and although the overall layout and hardware (8-inch colour touch screen) remains the same, it is a refresh after all, there is an expanded range of assistance systems on offer including ‘Crew protect assist’ an extended safety system, ‘Driver alert’ making sure that you’re paying attention, Adaptive cruise control and city autonomous braking – it also comes with a virtual pedal, Skoda’s version of a kicker tailgate.
While we’re at the rear, the luggage space is the same as in the previous model, 521L, (1,630L when all seats are folded down) but for those that need more room, the VarioFlex seats option gives you 588L (1,605L with the rear seats folded down, and 1,810L with the rear seats removed).
Visually the new body-coloured rear spoiler makes the Karoq look longer, but at 4.39m long and 1.84m wide the upgraded SUV is still ideally suited for town and greater suburban driving, and so that’s exactly what I did with it.
Even with the longer 4WD wheelbase, navigating the confined downtown parking areas was a simple affair and the Karoq’s overall space and practicality meant that loading it up with ‘holiday sale’ goods (sigh) was a breeze.
With the family dropped off home and Auckland roads still being relatively quiet I took the opportunity to stretch the Sportline’s legs, and it didn’t disappoint. The chassis feels firm and rigid and Skoda’s clever 4WD system made light work of rural corners and off camber bends. The 2L/DSG combo allows for enthusiastic driving and the leather steering wheel and paddles gave me a huge feeling of control.
Being branded a Sportline obviously gave my review Karoq a sportier feel, supportive seats, stainless foot pedals and thelike, but it’s also quite a smooth ride when not stressed or pushed. Road noise is minimal and I assume that the improved aero meant less wind noise, because again it’s minimal.
It may just be a midlife refresh but the improvements that have been made to the Karoq have made a big difference. A more substantial and more muscular look, greater aerodynamicism (pretty sure that’s not a word) and a more positive driving experience. Oh and as a bonus, it still comes with Skoda’s ‘simply clever’ attributes, including an umbrella that came in handy on more than one occasion – summer in Auckland **sigh**.