Skoda Karoq review - Engines, performance and drive
There are sportier SUVs, but the Skoda Karoq strikes a pleasing balance between comfort and driving fun
Under the skin, the Skoda Karoq uses a tried-and-tested recipe, combining the VW Group’s MQB underpinnings (with MacPherson strut front suspension and a torsion beam rear axle on 2WD versions, while 4x4 cars have a multilink set-up) that also forms the basis of the Kodiaq and many other models in the Czech brand’s line-up, highlighting its versatility.
On the move, the Skoda feels sharper than the Peugeot 3008. The steering is nicely weighted and more responsive – helping the car feel more agile, with less roll when changing direction. This stems from the Karoq’s firmer suspension, but the downside is that you’ll feel more body and wheel movements than in the 3008, which smooths out poor surfaces nicely. The Karoq isn't as firm as its SEAT Ateca sister model and our group test showed that it rides better overall than the Vauxhall Grandland and Nissan Qashqai.
The faster you go, the more the Karoq’s body control comes to the fore, giving plenty of security and confidence. The slick-shifting manual gearbox is fun to use and the sculpted steering wheel feels really good in your hands.
The more energy you put through the springs and dampers, the more the ride quality calms down, but because SUVs are likely to spend lots of time in town, the firmness from the Skoda’s suspension over broken surfaces just takes the edge off the car’s otherwise impressive refinement score.
Car group tests
- Skoda Karoq vs Volkswagen T-Roc: 2023 twin test review
- Vauxhall Grandland vs Skoda Karoq vs Nissan Qashqai: 2022 group test review
- Peugeot 3008 vs Skoda Karoq
- Ford Kuga vs Toyota RAV4 vs Skoda Karoq
Used car tests
The Sportline model comes with 19-inch alloy wheels which we felt unduly affected the Karoq's ride - causing a fairly compliant family SUV to develop unwelcome jiggliness over uneven A and B roads. Some annoying harmonics also presented themselves over concrete sections of motorway. We would recommend the smaller wheeled models for this reason - the SE L has 18-inch items.
0-62mph acceleration and top speed
Of the three petrol engines, the mid-range 1.5 TSI comes out as our clear favourite, although the smaller 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine performs pretty well, too. The entry-level TSI unit makes a respectable 109bhp, and while it will accelerate the Karoq from 0-62mph in 11.1 seconds, it feels a little strained at higher speeds or when fully laden. It means that when accelerating hard, you can feel and hear the work the little engine is having to put in, as the noise becomes somewhat intrusive and there’s a small amount of vibration present through the pedals.
The larger 1.5 TSI has a broader power band, and with 148bhp it’s a stronger performer and more refined – 0 to 62mph arrives in 8.9 seconds (or 9.0 seconds with the DSG twin-clutch auto option), and you don’t have to work the engine quite so hard.
You can get the 2.0-litre TSI petrol in Sportline trim with the seven-speed DSG dual-clutch gearbox and all-wheel drive. With 187bhp it makes the Karoq decidedly lively with a 0-62mph time of 7s.
The 116PS TDI turbodiesel makes roughly the same power as the entry-level petrol, but has more torque, so it doesn’t feel quite as strained when you need a bit of grunt, although it too can be noisy when stretched. It manages the 0-62mph sprint in 10.6 seconds.
The 2.0-litre TDI has 148bhp, and knocks off the benchmark sprint in 8.8 seconds, as well as offering a lot more punch for overtaking. This will help if you’re intending to tow, as will the fact that this engine can also be accompanied by all-wheel drive.
In this review
- 1Skoda Karoq reviewThe Skoda Karoq condenses the considerable appeal of the seven-seat Kodiaq into a smaller crossover package
- 2Engines, performance and drive - currently readingThere are sportier SUVs, but the Skoda Karoq strikes a pleasing balance between comfort and driving fun
- 3MPG, CO2 and running costsThe Skoda Karoq won’t break the bank, but it’s not top of the class for running costs
- 4Interior, design and technologyConservative but appealing design wraps a suitably advanced technical package that’s practical, too
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceA big boot, roomy cabin and clever touches make the Karoq a great family choice
- 6Reliability and safetyVW Group parts-sharing and safety tech should provide reassurance for Skoda Karoq owners