Over the past few years, the global market has shifted its approach towards SUVs in disregard to conventional sedans. Skoda entered the Indian market with the Yeti, and it was highly underrated. It had great driving dynamics, impeccable build quality and impressive off-road ability. But it did miss out on a couple of essentials – a value for money quotient and automated transmission. The van-like silhouette, from the back, didn’t impress either.
While Skoda discontinued the Yeti in 2017, they revealed the idea of replacing it with the Karoq. The Karoq is all set to debut in India by the end of this year and we’ve got a chance to take on the wheels for the Skoda Karoq review at the company’s headquarters in Mlada Boleslav.
Yes, indeed. Instead of retaining the oddball design and curvy personality of the Yeti, the Karoq takes the conventional SUV route that will surely appeal to the larger audiences. The front reaps a massive grille that is reminiscent of all Skoda cars, horizontal bar-type LED headlamps with daytime running lights and a wide front bumper.
Get to the side, and the similarities seem to take a hit. In our Karoq review, we noticed that the car is considerably shorter than the Kodiaq, albeit it is longer and wider in comparison to the Yeti. The 20-inch wheels look stunning, however, there is a slender chance the India-spec variant will be getting smaller 18 or 17 inchers in the interest of better ride quality. Out on the back though, the unique tail-lamp design and the curvy lines give the Karoq lots of character.
How is it on the inside?
Get inside and you are welcomed by a well-equipped and nicely put together dual-tone black and beige cabin. The first thing we appreciated in our Skoda Karoq review, the front seats are well crafted and supportive over long drives, you sit high in the cabin that ensures a commanding view of what’s on the road. Get in the back, and things take quite a turn, the creature comfort is limited for tall passengers with just enough head and leg space, however, sitting three may be a struggle considering the average width size of the car. There are plenty of cubby holes and decently-sized door pockets to store all your Knick Knacks.
The model we drove, the top-spec Karoq gets a 9.2-inch touchscreen infotainment unit that comes paired to a 12 speaker audio system, the climate control knobs that are somewhat similar to the Yeti, the three-spoke steering wheel which is identical to the Kodiaq and vertically placed air-con vents. Additionally, you get wireless charging for smartphones, powered tailgate and a panoramic sunroof to play with.
How does it ride?
Internationally, the Karoq comes with a choice of two petrol and two diesel motors. In our Skoda Karoq review, we tested out the 2.0-litre diesel, the same mill that powers the Kodiaq and is likely to make its way to the Indian market. In the Karoq, it produces the same 148bhp of power and 340Nm of torque. On the move, there is a bit of turbo lag before initially but it disappears once the needle sweeps past the 1,750rpm mark. Once the turbo spools in, the car pulls nicely and overtakes are quite effortless. The engine gets noisy and starts to show some resistance after 4,000rpm, it’s better to upshift before hitting the redline.
The Karoq comes paired to a 7-speed DSG gearbox, and the gearshifts are smooth and precise, just as expected from the Volkswagen group models. The ride quality is rough, thanks to the 20-inch wheels, however, the Indian-spec model is likely to sit on smaller tyres and higher profile rubber in the interest of better ride quality. The Karoq is not a strong handler – it isn’t as engaging as the Yeti or the Kodiaq for that matter. That being said, the steering weighs up decently well over high speeds, but it lacks the communication and feedback that we are used to expecting out of a Skoda. Switching to the Sport mode makes the steering heavier, but the overall response and feedback just remain the same.
The Karoq fixes out on all the bad patches of the Yeti – the van-like silhouette, the shortfall of an automated transmission and the lack of features and practicality. As a matter of fact, the SUV-ish like design is surely going to attract a number of buyers albeit it is not something that will be turning heads across the road. The engine performs well and lives up to the expectations, although the ride quality and handling is the sore point of the Karoq, at least for the International-spec version. Skoda has mentioned that they will be bringing the Karoq to the Indian market around mid-2020 via the CBU route. To sum up our Karoq review, the smaller-Kodiaq will definitely be a good addition to the segment. But we’ll have to see how it fares against the fierce competition. Tune in to autoX to read our extensive reviews and updates on all things automotive.