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2024 Skoda Karoq review

The Skoda Karoq has long been a popular player in Europe, but is still a relatively niche seller Down Under.

Why? It’s definitely not because it’s a bad car – if anything it’s quite the opposite. Supply challenges haven’t helped, but the Skoda brand nor the Karoq nameplate carry the same kind of weight of Volkswagen or Tiguan.

With the new 2024 Skoda Karoq – simply known as Karoq in the base grade – it appears Skoda is gunning for more volume, squaring toe-to-toe with the Mazda CX-5.

Like its rival, the Karoq is on the smaller side of the medium SUV segment. Further, both the Skoda and its top-selling Japanese adversary are advertised from $39,990 drive-away in their entry forms.

WATCH: Paul’s video review of the Karoq Style

Beyond the Mazda, rivals for the Karoq include everything from the ever-popular Toyota RAV4 to the Nissan Qashqai and Volkswagen Tiguan.

Is this new value-focused base grade the ‘Simply Clever’ option in Australia’s most competitive new vehicle segment? Or are you better off Czech-ing out something else?

How does the Skoda Karoq compare?

View a detailed breakdown of the Skoda Karoq against similarly sized vehicles.

Skoda Karoq cutout image

Skoda

Karoq

How much does the Skoda Karoq cost?

The new base Karoq slots in under the $40,000 barrier, listing for $39,990 drive-away.

Skoda is also plugging its Skoda Choice finance offer, which for the Karoq ‘Entry’ is $96 per week at a 6.99 per cent p.a. standard rate over a 60-month term with 20 per cent deposit. It also includes a Guaranteed Future Value (GFV) of $15,857 at the end of the finance period.

2024 Skoda Karoq pricing:

  • 2024 Skoda Karoq: $39,990
  • 2024 Skoda Karoq Style: $45,490
  • 2024 Skoda Karoq Sportline 4×4: $52,490

Prices are drive-away

To see how the Karoq lines up with the competition, check out our comparison tool.

What is the Skoda Karoq like on the inside?

The interior of the Karoq hasn’t changed much in seven years, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Despite Skoda historically playing the ‘cheaper’ or ‘value’ role in the Volkswagen Group, the Karoq offers perceived quality and ambience right up there with the current Volkswagen Tiguan.

There are plenty of soft-touch surfaces across the upper and middle tiers of the dashboard, as well as the doors. This includes the bridge-like trim where the front occupants’s knees rest, which is a nice touch especially for a base model.

Skoda has done well to maintain high-quality touch points, with buttery smooth leather on the sports steering wheel and gear selector, including sporty perforations on the former. The chunky rubberised rotary controls for the climate controls are also a plus compared to today’s touch-capacitive trend.

Ahead of the driver is a more basic 8.0-inch Virtual Cockpit as opposed to the fancier 10.25-inch display standard in the Style. It looks a bit low-rent by comparison, but there are a couple of different views available and it offers most of the same information as the higher-end displays.

The 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system is integrated into the dashboard – no tacked-on iPad here – and features wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard. No navigation (despite the button) or DAB radio, however.

Skoda’s most basic infotainment setup is fine, and wireless Apple CarPlay worked reliably during my time with the Karoq. You miss out on a wireless phone charger, standard on the Style, which means on longer trips you might want to plug your phone in via the USB-C ports to keep your device juiced on arrival.

There’s plenty of storage about, too. There’s a lidded drawer under the centre stack for your phone, a spacious and modular cupholder and storage area on the centre console, and an adjustable centre armrest that doubles as a lid for the rear section of the centre console.

I also really like the comfortable and supportive front seats, which offer a wide range of manual adjustment. You also get an elastic strap in the large door bins

Skoda has removed the Style’s VarioFlex rear seats for the new entry grade. VarioFlex rear seats are independently adjustable and removable – allowing for numerous configurations.

But, the Karoq’s second row remains solid regardless. It’s not quite as good as something like a RAV4 or Sportage, but given the Skoda is much smaller externally it’s well packaged and makes for a good four seater.

I can sit behind my own driving position fine, though any taller in the front or rear and you might feel a little cozy. At least there’s plenty of headroom and good outward visibility through the windows. The high driveline hump intrudes into the footwell a bit, though the flat centre seat means a fifth person can tag along for shorter stints.

ISOFIX and top-tether points feature in the rear as you’d expect, and you get a fold-down centre armrest and ski port. Rounding out the amenities are directional air vents, a 12V outlet and big bottle holders in the doors.

The removal of the VarioFlex seating means the Karoq doesn’t offer as much maximum boot space with the rear seats up – as the chairs in this variant don’t slide fore and aft.

As such, Skoda quotes 521 litres with the rear bench in place and 1630 litres with them folded. You also get handy luggage hooks and side cubbies to store smaller items, and there’s a full size steel spare under the floor – pretty unusual for a European car.

What’s under the bonnet?

The base Karoq runs the same drivetrain as the Style.

Model Skoda Karoq 1.4 TSI
Engine 1.4 4cyl turbo
Power 110kW (6000rpm)
Engine torque 250Nm (1500-3500rpm)
Transmission 8-speed auto
Driven wheels Front-wheel drive
Weight (tare) 1510kg (Style)
Fuel economy (claim) 6.5L/100km
Fuel economy (as tested) 8.1L/100km
Fuel tank size 50 litres
Fuel requirement 95 RON

I will note that our observed fuel economy was after an extended stint of winding B-roads and more dynamic driving with lots of hillclimbs. I have observed indicated economy far closer to the claim in normal driving.

How does the Skoda Karoq drive?

Given the drivetrain in the new base Karoq is the same as the Style, it’s a similar experience to its pricier stablemate.

With its familiar MQB underpinnings and turbocharged 1.4 TSI powertrain, the Karoq offers smooth performance and a refined overall drive perfectly suited to the daily commute.

The 1.4-litre engine is a tried-and-tested unit offering strong low-down response and excellent fuel economy, and while the outputs aren’t standout on paper it works well with the eight-speed automatic to shift the Karoq’s 1510kg tare mass with reasonable pace – if you want more go, you’ll need to step up to the 140kW Sportline 4×4.

I miss the snappiness of a DSG, though. While relatively competent, the eight-speed automatic feels like it’s slurring through ratios at times, and can sometimes hunt around for the right ratio up hills or if you suddenly put your foot down.

It just doesn’t feel as crisp or decisive as the seven-speed dual-clutch that was fitted to the newer 1.5 TSI when the Karoq first launched. I have levelled similar criticism at the latest Golf and Skoda Octavia fitted with the same drivetrain in Australia.

Put your foot down and you’ll be greeted by the typical raspy engine note and a bit more shove, but 110kW at 6000rpm isn’t a huge amount of power and it runs out of puff at the top end. It’s best to drive this in a more measured manner.

The ride is errs on the taut side on passive dampers and 18-inch wheels, though it strikes a good balance between comfort and handling. It does feel softer than the Kamiq Run-Out and Octavia Sportline we drove on the same event, with the Karoq’s taller ride height and softer tune feeling more comfort focused.

Handling is predictable and secure, in typical Skoda fashion, though it’s not as focused as even the related VW Tiguan or something like a Mazda CX-5 or Honda ZR-V. The steering is light but response is pretty accurate, though you don’t get a huge amount of feel or feedback like you might in a Volkswagen or Cupra equivalent.

Our driving program through some twister and hilly sections of roads, and while the Karoq held on admirably when driven harder than any owner would likely push it, it was made very clear this is a car designed for comfortable commuting rather than putting the ‘sport’ in ‘SUV’ – no bad thing, really.

While the driving experience is overall refined, you get a bit of tyre roar over rougher road surfaces and the occasional wind whistle from the chunky side mirrors. At least it’s nicely stable and composed on the highway.

As for assistance systems, we had plenty of time to use the Karoq’s standard adaptive cruise control, and were aided by the standard inclusion of Side Assist – which encompasses blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alerts. The latter has been largely unavailable across a number of Volkswagen Group models up until recently due to component shortages.

There’s also a basic lane-keep assist with steering intervention to stop you drifting over lane markings, but if you want the full-fat Travel Assist with active lane centring as well as Emergency Assist – which will safely stop the vehicle on the side of the road if the driver becomes incapacitated – you have to get a Style or Sportline with the applicable option packages.

What do you get?

While the entry Karoq has had some bits of kit removed, it’s still well specified for the money.

Karoq highlights:

  • 18-inch alloy wheels
  • Auto LED headlights
  • Fog lights
  • Rear dynamic indicators
  • Power-folding heated side mirrors
  • Driver-side auto-dimming mirror
  • 8.0-inch Virtual Cockpit
  • 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
  • Dual-zone climate control
  • Push-button start
  • Auto-dimming rear-view mirror
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel

Karoq Style adds:

  • Hands-free power tailgate
  • Privacy glass
  • 10.25-inch Virtual Cockpit
  • DAB+ digital radio
  • Wireless phone charger
  • Drive profile selection
  • Double-sided luggage net
  • Boot nets/cargo divider
  • VarioFlex removable rear seats
  • Driver door bins

Is the Skoda Karoq safe?

The Skoda Karoq wears a five-star ANCAP safety rating based on Euro NCAP tests conducted in 2017.

2023 Skoda Karoq Style

All variants are covered by this rating, based on category scores of 93 per cent for adult occupant protection, 79 per cent for child occupant protection, 73 per cent for pedestrian protection, and 58 per cent for safety assist.

Standard safety equipment includes:

  • 7 airbags incl. driver’s knee
  • Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB)
    • Pedestrian, Cyclist detection
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Driver fatigue detection
  • Lane Assist
  • Light Assist
    • Auto high-beam
  • Manoeuvre Braking Assist
  • Multi-collision brake
  • Parking sensors front, rear
  • Reversing camera
  • Side Assist
    • Blind-spot monitoring
    • Rear cross-traffic alert
  • Tyre pressure monitoring

If you want the full suite of assists available, such as Traffic Jam Assist, Adaptive Lane Guidance and Emergency Assist, you’ll need to step up to the Style or Sportline 4×4 and specify one of the applicable option packs.

How much does the Skoda Karoq cost to run?

The Karoq is covered by a seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.

You also get seven-year coverage on engine starting batteries, a complementary year of Skoda Roadside Assist, two-year coverage for all genuine parts and accessories, a three-year paint warranty and a 12-year corrosion warranty.

Scheduled maintenance is required every 12 months or 15,000 kilometres – whichever comes first.

Skoda offers a seven-year service pack upfront as well as pay-as-you-go. The seven-year service pack for Skoda’s medium cars – including the Karoq – costs $2750 or an average of $392.85 per year.

CarExpert’s Take on the Skoda Karoq

It may not be as ‘cheap’ as when it first launched, but the new entry Karoq plays in a part of the mid-size SUV segment Skoda hasn’t been present in for some time.

As rivals have progressively gotten more expensive, a sub-$40,000 drive-away price is pretty hard to come by unless you opt for a stripped-out base model with naturally aspirated engines, or take a punt on a Chinese brand.

This is where Skoda excels in the European market, focusing on attainable and value-led motoring that offers much of the goodness from more expensive VW Group relatives. This base Karoq is a prime example of that.

It’s not big on frills or thrills, but it’s a comfortable, refined, efficient alternative to the medium SUV establishment, and packs in most of what people want and need when it comes to infotainment and safety tech.

Compared to a base CX-5, Sportage or Tucson, it’s definitely worth a look.

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