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MotorBar
Skoda Karoq SE L 1.5 TSI 150PS DSG
Click to view picture gallery“If youre after a mid-size family-
  friendly SUV then you
re going to
  be spoilt for choice. While there
  is a huge range of models in this
  competitive sector, Skoda
s Karoq
  stands out from its peers as a fine
  all-rounder — and one that won
t
  break the bank...”


GOOD TO DRIVE, it's also practical and versatile thanks to its VarioFlex seating (mixes and matches a large boot with variable rear cabin legroom), plus it's economical to run. Both petrol and diesel powerplants, with manual or seven-speed dual-clutch gearboxes, along with front- and all-wheel drive as well as a decent number of trim levels are available so you can bag the specification that best suits your needs.

We've just spent a week pootling around in the 150PS (148bhp) 1.5-litre petrol-powered TSI — power-wise it's the pick of the range: it's always on the ball and acceleration is agreeably punchy, plus it's eager low-down, and tireless on fast open roads even when passengered-up. With an official combined economy figure of 41.5-42.8mpg and a seven-speed DSG transmission it runs to 128mph and takes care of the 0-62 sprint in a nippy 8.8 seconds. We tend to work test cars hard as we like our test figures to be genuinely 'real world' — our 1.5 TSI's week-long average came in at a worthy 41.6mpg.

The driving position is
first-rate and visibility out
excellent courtesy of
the commanding seating
but also the large side
windows and thin
windscreen pillars, all of
which makes placing
the Karoq a breeze,
especially in traffic.
The multifunction wheel
is a smart two-spoker
with delightfully
functional chromed
thumbwheel controls and
it’s all as good to use as
it looks including the
voice command button —
if you prefer you can just
say ‘Laura’ out loud
to proceed...”
Not that you're limited to one-and-a-half litres. Alternatively you could go for the 110PS 1.0 petrol — it's perfectly fine, especially for lots of town work. Two gutsy TDI turbodiesels are also available: both of 2.0-litre capacity and offering either 150PS or 116PS (the 150PS version can also be had with four-wheel drive).

More important than the powerplants though is the cabin — and the Karoq's is a great place to spend time. It looks classy thanks to an attractive fascia treatment centred around an 8-inch landscape format touchscreen, and the graphics are crystal clear. Soft-touch surfaces along with quality high-gloss inserts and detailing add an additional veneer of good taste. And not only is the fit and finish meticulous but everything feels solid enough to take whatever your family can throw at it and still come away looking smart.

Drivers force-fed 'everything touchscreen' will heartily cheer the Karoq's dual-zone climate system's panel of traditional controls sited immediately beneath the main touchscreen: proper knurled knobs and switches that are super-easy to operate while driving. And even in these tech-rich times we still need to display parking tickets so it's nice to see that the Karoq comes with an in-screen holder for one.

The driving position is first-rate and visibility out excellent courtesy of the commanding seating but also the large side windows and thin windscreen pillars, all of which makes placing the Karoq a breeze, especially in traffic. The Karoq's rear pillars are slimmer than is usual which adds a bonus of reassuringly clear over-the-shoulder views. The multifunction wheel is a smart two-spoker with delightfully functional chromed thumbwheel controls and it's all as good to use as it looks including the voice command button — if you prefer, you can just say "Laura" out loud to proceed.

The DSG autobox is as simple as they come with a useful toggle switch between Drive and Sport; if you want full control of the shifting there's a manual mode — flick the lever left then nudge the selector fore/aft to change up/down as you want. Simples! Immediately behind the selector lever are the switches for the electric park brake and its autohold function and Skoda's Drive Select that lets you choose or change the drive modes between Normal, Eco, Sport, and Individual (4x4 models get an additional dedicated Off-road setting).

Generous glasshouse glazing creates an airy and light cabin and makes the roominess even more welcoming. Both front chairs are height adjustable and even with their seat base ratcheted up taller users will still enjoy a good fist+ of headroom. And when it comes to storage there's more than enough room left over to tidy away every last bit of all that personal stuff we have to cart around with us — big, long door bins that store 1.5-litre bottles are supplemented by a large cooled glovebox, a commodious central bin capped by an extending and height-adjustable armrest between passenger and driver, a deep tray at the base of the centre stack with USB slots and an extremely useful lidded bin built into the top of the dash.

Swing open a rear door
and you
ll quickly see
why this mid-size Skoda
SUV is so popular with
families. For a start
the door openings are
large which is not just
good news for adult
passengers but also for
those who need to get
children in and out of
child seats
a quick
and hassle-free job in
the Karoq...”
The heated sports-style seats, upholstered in a comfortable and all-season friendly microsuede, are well shaped and supportive in all the right places and benefit from easily adjustable headrests and lumbar support plus height-adjustable seat belts. One of MotorBar's testers suffers from a bad back and it was telling that despite the miles she spent behind the Karoq's wheel we didn't hear a single murmur of complaint. The opposite, in fact.

It helps too that with these SUV bodystyles you don't drop down into your seat but simply park your posterior and swing your legs in. Getting out is equally hassle-free; no wonder they're popular with so many different drivers.

Naturally, comms are comprehensive with Skoda's foolproof Amundsen SatNav and infotainment system (one of the nicer ones around, with clear graphics and a foolproof operating system), SD card slot, voice control, Smartlink (wired for Android Auto; wireless for Apple CarPlay), Smartlink+ with integrated WiFi, Infotainment Online services, a DAB radio, Bluetooth, and an SOS button to contact the emergency services (connection is automatic in the event of a crash). And when it comes to firing up the engine it's conveniently keyless, as too is entry and locking and leaving.

Other items making life easy include dual-zone climate control, powerfolding heated door mirrors with auto dimming and boarding spots, auto-dimming rearview mirror, a rearview camera with an active grid guide supported by front and rear parking sensors, and auto lights and wipes. You also get adaptive cruise control with a speed limiter, electric windows all round, drive-away auto door locking, privacy glass, Skoda's VarioFlex rear seating system, foldable tables on the front seatbacks, and even a compact umbrella stored beneath the front passenger seat. On the outside you'll find 18-inch alloy wheels and chrome roof rails.

Safety-wise there's a full suite of airbags (front, head, knee, curtain, and front side), Skoda's radar-based Front Assist which scans the road ahead and automatically brakes for you should a collision appear likely, full LED headlights with adaptive front light system and LED daytime running lights, Pedestrian monitoring, a driver fatigue warning, Lane Assist, LED cornering front fog lights, rear LED taillights, tyre pressure monitoring, and drive-away auto door locking.

Even rolling on its
18-inch alloy wheels
the Karoq does an
impressive job of ironing
out the bumps and
you’ll need to spend a
much thicker wedge of
the folding if you want
to find a comfier SUV.
Ride-wise, motorways
are a stroll in the park
for the Karoq as it wafts
along, nonchalantly
munching up the miles
while keeping your
passengers suitably
relaxed...”
Swing open a rear door and you'll quickly see why this mid-size Skoda SUV is regularly endorsed by families. For a start the door openings are large which is not just good news for adult passengers but also for those who need to get children in and out of child seats — a quick and hassle-free job in the Karoq.

Grown-ups, even six-footers, travelling in the rear cabin enjoy plenty of foot-, knee- and leg-room and a full fist-and-a-half of headroom — feel free to wear a hat! More good news: three side-by-side in the back is doable and you shouldn't hear any grumbles even from the adults.

Adding to the ease of travel are comfy seats with rake-adjustable backrests, large door bins that hold 1.5-litre bottles, central air vents, privacy glass, a deep and well-padded drop-down central armrest with built-in cupholders, storage pouches, multi-position pop-up 'picnic' tables on both front seatbacks (these can be set level or at various angles to favour a tablet or suchlike) with cupholders that pop out when needed. Kids will love 'em!

And the SE L version has another ace — its sliding VarioFlex rear seating which serves up maximum passenger/load flexibility. The three separate rear seats — split approximately 40:20:40 — recline as well as slide fore and aft and are individually adjustable. This is a superb feature as it not only allows the boot space to be extended but alternatively means each passenger can adjust legroom to suit; and it also permits long and wide items to be carried alongside passengers without having to commit to full loadbay mode and lose the use of all three rear seats.

Which brings us neatly to the ride. Even rolling on its standard 18-inch alloy wheels the Karoq does an impressive job of ironing out the bumps and you'll need to spend a much thicker wedge of the folding if you want to find a comfier SUV. Ride-wise, motorways are a stroll in the park for the Karoq as it wafts along, the soundtrack from the petrol engine muted into the background, nonchalantly munching up the miles while keeping your passengers suitably relaxed.

The Karoq's character — a well-fettled balance between sporting and comfort — is decidedly driver-friendly. The helm feels good in your hands and delivers quick, accurate and nicely weighted steering that combined with decent grip — even with just the front wheels being powered — delivers confidence when slicing through the twisties. Vented front discs boost the stopping power and braking is always reassuring.

The Karoq’s boot is one of the biggest in its class. Access is brilliant with the high-lifting tailgate taking the mesh luggage cover up with it. Models equipped with the VarioFlex system can expand their boots from 479 litres to 588 litres by sliding the rear seats — so plenty of room for buggies, bikes and even
a full-grown St. Bernard!”
For a mid-size SUV the Karoq feels encouragingly agile and is as satisfying to press on in as it is when mixing it assuredly in the cut and thrust of the school run. Should you have a need to tow or even stray from the blacktop, then four-wheel drive is always an option. One-up or five-up, this Karoq is a fine steer.

The Karoq's boot is one of the biggest in its class — big enough, in fact, to stow 8+ carryon suitcases below the window line. Access is brilliant with the high-lifting tailgate taking the mesh luggage cover up with it. Non-VarioFlex equipped models have a fixed 521-litre boot with a height adjustable boot floor but those equipped with VarioFlex can expand their boots from 479 litres to 588 litres by sliding the rear seats — so plenty of room for buggies, bikes and even a full-grown St. Bernard!

Fold the backrests down flat or even go one further and tumble them upright against the front seatbacks and all Karoqs give you a 1,605-litre loadbay. For some unexpected supersizing you can remove all three seats as separate units to create a van-like 1,810-litre cargo-hold.

Other thoughtful touches include a removable LED torch in the boot, sturdy repositionable bag-hooks, stretchy luggage nets, a handy oddments tray and corner pockets, and a pair of placeholders that can be Velcroed anywhere on the reversible boot mat (one side carpet; the other tough and waterproofed for your new lockdown best friend) to prevent items from slipping and sliding around.

Another neat feature is the optional powered towbar that, at the press of a button, retracts out of the way into the rear bumper. If you're planning on doing any towing you'll be pleased to know that the 1.5 petrol engine is happy to haul a braked 1,400kg (the 2.0-litre diesels are good for more: 1,800kg).

The nicely-handling Karoq is a first-rate all-rounder with a bunch of winning features. Easy and pleasing to drive with a commanding driving position and a very liveable and comfortable cabin, it majors on practicality (those versatile VarioFlex seats!) and genuinely has room to keep the whole family relaxed while enjoying the views. Meaning finding that perfect family-friendly SUV need take you no further than your nearest Skoda showroom. ~ MotorBar

Skoda Karoq SE L 1.5 TSI 150PS DSG | 29,065
Maximum speed: 128mph | 0-62mph: 8.8 seconds | Test Average: 41.6mpg
Power: 148bhp | Torque: 184lb ft | CO2: 150-155g/km

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