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Karoq launch review – Czech mate

Karoq launch review – New Zealand

Hot on the heels of their multi-award winning 7-seater SUV Kodiaq, Czech car manufacturer  Skoda (although they are part of the Euro brand stable VAG) have just released their mid-sized 5-seater SUV the Karoq to the NZ market – we were invited along to the launch to get better acquainted.

By now you are probably aware of the Kodiaq and all the ‘Simply Clever’ smarts that come with it, the Karoq takes these learnings (plus a few more) and squeezes them into this new smaller bear.

Taking design cues from the brand’s Czech crystal heritage and obvious synergy with its larger ‘mate’, the Karoq seems set on capitalising on its increasing wave of popularity – and why wouldn’t it?

The Karoq’s nose sports a chiselled bonnet bridge that leads down to the very familiar Skoda grille. LED headlights are underlined by finely cut daytime running lamps and high riding fogs. The SUV’s profile includes a dominant pinch line and defined wheel arches there to frame up to 19” of creatively designed alloys. By cleverly merging in the character of the profile and strong use of light play, the rear becomes more of a feature than a place to store things (which it does in spades) and it justifiably illuminated by wedge-shaped tail lights in line with Czech crystal glass-making traditions,  phew.

With all the glitz and glamour of the exterior, I was expecting a cabin worthy of a fanfare – however, the Karoq has opted for a more understated approach. It’s simplistic and uncluttered but quite dark, relying on chrome accents to highlight points of interest, which as it turns out, there are many.

Aside from a VERY long list of ‘standard equipment’ that includes, your choice of ambient lighting colours, keyless entry, lane assist and blind spot detection, park assist, and a rear camera that displays on a near hi-def infotainment screen, depending on the model variant (Ambition+/Style and Plus Pack which I’ll get to soon) you get cloth or leather upholstery, CANTON audio system, dual zone A/C, damn, I’m going to run out of room.

Additional connectivity comes in the form of Apple and Android, Mirrorlink, and Skoda Connect, a new app that over time has the ability to totally dissect your drive – even down to how much to charge individual carpoolers – which (when they find out how efficient the Karoq is) will be lining up for a ride.

You see, under the sharp-nosed bonnet, is your choice of a turbo 1.5L petrol TSI or 2.0L diesel TDI that sip fuel like it’s going out of fashion (which for all intents and purposes, it is). With a reported number of 5.6L/100k petrol and 5.2L/100k diesel, these are numbers you can take to the bank, oh and the TSI has the ability to shut off half its cylinders when not required – great for long runs.

If space ‘is the final frontier’, then the Karoq has the ability to truly conquer it. VARIOFLEX which is part of the ‘Plus Package’ (leather seats, sports steering wheel, DSG paddles and exposed steel pedals), offers up a rear luggage area combo that is almost limitless – turning 479L into 1810L and 5 seats to 4 and increasing sibling isolation zones (in turn reducing overall family fatigue). Through a series of clever Tetris like moves, seats can be lowered, dropped, raised or even removed!

We took the Karoq on a fairly sensible run from the Airport out to the Hunting Lodge Winery in Waimauku, admittedly this drive didn’t test the new SUV to anywhere near its capabilities but then again, I don’t think that was the point (as we will be handed the keys for one on one time at a later date), this was more of an introductory dance (especially as to me the name evokes images of the Ciroc), it was a chance to push its buttons and stare at that non-moving fuel gauge.

As I said when I began, Skoda is forging ahead in the hearts and minds of the Kiwi motorist. The brand has grown significantly in terms of both perception and indeed reality. From small city chariots through wagons to its large SUV, they have added both depth and breadth to their offerings. The Karoq may be a little slow in joining the already incredibly popular mid-sized SUV category but with its style and clever smarts, it looks like it will be a very welcomed Czech mate.

For more Skoda reviews, click here


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