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Mid-size SUV of the Year 2018: Skoda Karoq

Skoda is on a roll, and the Karoq is proof that the Czech brand knows exactly what it’s doing in the field of family SUVs.

Skoda is on a roll, and the Karoq is proof that the Czech brand knows exactly what it’s doing in the field of family SUVs. The manufacturer has confidently followed up the excellent seven-seat Kodiaq with another class-leading crossover, distilling what made its large SUV such a success into a more compact and affordable package.

The appeal of the Karoq is much the same as that of its bigger brother. This is a no-nonsense mid-size SUV that does the basics brilliantly. While that means it doesn’t quite boast the wow factor of some of the Karoq’s more flamboyant rivals, the Skoda is a winner for value, refinement, practicality and tech, thanks to its excellent and intuitive infotainment options. As an all-round proposition it makes great sense.

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The quirks of the old Skoda Yeti that used to occupy this space in the market have been replaced by a more grown-up and modern-feeling approach with the Karoq.

Its MQB platform underpinnings ensure it’s good to drive, with comfort and composure on offer. That is matched by performance and efficiency thanks to the choice of modern turbocharged petrol and diesel engines that are familiar from elsewhere in the VW Group range.

At the top end of the line-up, the 148bhp 2.0-litre TDI Karoq is equipped with all-wheel drive and comes with a special off-road driving mode. However, it’s the 1.5-litre four-cylinder 148bhp TSI petrol unit that impresses the most. It boasts a solid spread of torque, great refinement and cylinder deactivation technology to help improve fuel efficiency.

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Those benefits are bolstered by excellent usability – a trait any family SUV has to nail. The Karoq offers up to 588 litres of boot space with the seats up, which expands to 1,810 litres when they’re folded, while there’s lots of leg and headroom in the back of the car.

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Factor in Skoda’s trademark Simply Clever touches, and this mid-size crossover should slot into family life seamlessly. It’s the most convincing offering in this class, which is why it scoops our award this year.

Our choice

Skoda Karoq 1.5 TSI SE (£22,230)

Developments in petrol technology mean that Skoda’s 1.5-litre TSI engine suits the Karoq’s character perfectly. The 148bhp four-cylinder turbo is our choice because it serves up smooth performance and never feels strained. The unit balances this with fair fuel economy, with claims of up to 52.3mpg. Basic SE spec is generous enough, with an eight-inch colour touchscreen featuring CarPlay and Android Auto, cruise control, rear parking sensors and 17-inch alloys. 

Commended 

Peugeot 3008

Peugeot 3008 - Front

The Peugeot 3008 won this category last year and is still an immensely commendable car, and a more eye-catching alternative to the straight-laced Karoq, thanks to its distinctive design inside and out. It’s also slightly more practical, because of its 591-litre boot. But the Skoda beats it for value, versatility, performance and comfort.

Toyota C-HR

Toyota C-HR - front

As this sector begins to saturate, Toyota’s C-HR gains a commendation in 2018 for injecting a bit of excitement into a derivative class. The vibrant design and sharp driving characteristics make the Toyota one of the more lively crossovers out there, while an efficient hybrid powertrain option offers something most of its rivals don’t.

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