Skoda Karoq vs Volkswagen T-Roc: 2023 twin test review
SUV-styled models are all the rage, but is the Karoq or T-Roc tops?
The SUV segment continues to grow – both individually and in terms of models available and sales. There’s an enormous spectrum of options in a range of different sizes, and here we have the best that Skoda and Volkswagen have to offer.
For Skoda, that’s the Karoq, which is slightly larger than the T-Roc we’ve lined up here. In a class with strong competition, its appeal lies in keeping things simple. If you want hybrid or plug-in hybrid powertrains, you’ll need to look elsewhere, but the engines that are present get the job done admirably.
One of the more underappreciated powertrains is the 2.0 TDI diesel, the engine used by the car in our pictures. The 148bhp power output is fine for a car such as this, but it’s the punchy 360Nm of torque that really makes a difference. A four-wheel drive system and seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox make it very secure and reassuring to drive. With a 2,100kg towing limit, it’ll comfortably haul more than any other powertrain option in the range, too. Despite all of that, our photographer Pete Gibson is averaging 44.9mpg so far.
The Karoq scores big points for space. Go for the SE L trim, and you get what Skoda calls VarioFlex rear seats. The standard back bench becomes three individual seats that can be folded, slid forwards or removed altogether. They make an already spacious car incredibly versatile. An optional ‘Simply Clever’ package includes a reversible boot carpet with a wipe-down rubber mat on one side and extra boot netting to secure smaller items.
In SportLine trim seen here, the monthly payments are £613 per month on a three-year PCP with a £5,000 deposit. But the most affordable SE Drive 1.0 TSI costs just £341 per month.
So far in 2023, the T-Roc is the only model in either brand’s line-ups to break into the top 10 of the UK’s new-car sales charts, and the allure is clear as soon as you dive into the numbers. Match the three-year PCP figures to the already competitively priced Golf on the previous page, and the entry-level T-Roc comes to £279 per month – £25 per month less than the Golf for a car with the same 108bhp 1.0-litre TSI petrol.
In many ways, it feels like you’re getting more car for less cash. While its footprint is shorter and more compact on the road than a Golf’s, the T-Roc’s taller roofline means that there’s more space for the driver and passengers inside, and at 445 litres, the boot is larger, too.
The VW offers the high-riding style that is so popular with buyers at the moment, but the way it drives on the road isn’t significantly compromised for it. The ride is very slightly firmer than the Golf’s, but it remains composed and refined enough to be very pleasurable to live with every day.
Skoda does have an alternative in the form of the Kamiq. It has plenty of space and is decent value for money, but the T-Roc feels like a step up when it comes to quality and refinement.
Which car comes out on top?
Winner: Skoda Karoq
It’s quite easy to argue that the Karoq is the best car Skoda makes right now. It’s designed to be a practical, versatile family SUV, and it nails its brief. Some rivals offer more glamour, but it’s a superb no-nonsense contender.
|Great to drive||No hybrid option|
|Versatile and spacious cabin||Not particularly fun to drive|
Runner up: Volkswagen T-Roc
The T-Roc isn’t absolutely outstanding in any one area, but it manages to perform very strongly across the board. However, since the monthly finance rates are currently so competitive, the Volkswagen suddenly becomes an extremely appealing prospect.
|Very competitive finance pricing on entry-level models||Interior quality could be better|
|Solid and comfortable driving experience||Top-spec models can get very pricey|
|Skoda Karoq 2.0 TDI SE L 4x4||Volkswagen T-Roc 1.5 TSI R-Line|
|Powertrain||4cyl in-line turbodiesel, 1,968cc||4cyl in-line turbo petrol, 1,498cc|
|Transmission||7-spd auto/4wd||7-spd auto/fwd|
|Boot capacity (seats up/down)||567/1,789 litres||445/1,290 litres|
|Turning circle/spare wheel||10.9 metres/£175||10.9 metres/£105|
|Basic warranty (miles)/recovery||3yrs (60,000)/3yrs||3yrs (60,000)/1yr|
|NCAP: Adult/child/ped./assist/stars||93/79/73/58/5 (2017)||96/87/79/71/5 (2017)|
|0-62mph/top speed||8.9 seconds/127mph||8.3 seconds/128mph|
|WLTP economy/range||49.1mpg/594 miles||46.3mpg/509 miles|
|Claimed CO2/tax bracket||151g/km/36%||138g/km/32%|
|Climate control/adaptive cruise||Yes/no||Yes/yes|
|Leather/heated seats/met paint||£305/yes/£660||£2,420/yes/£710|
|LED lights/keyless entry/power boot||Yes/yes/£760||Yes/£390/no|
|Sat-nav/digital dash/USBs||Yes/£1,445 (pack)/yes||Yes/yes/yes|