- Beautifully crafted and super practical interior
- Engaging to drive whilst still being comfortable
- Brilliant value and genuinely talented amongst a sea of mundane small SUVs
- DSG hesitation and vibration spoils the party slightly
- Should have blind spot monitoring as standard
- Not much else!
When Skoda launched locally in 2007, the Octavia was the company’s best chance at sales success and it has earned a very loyal following of buyers since. Fast forward to 2020 and not only have medium cars gone out of vogue, but Skoda has added significantly to its product portfolio with three SUVs. The latest is the 2020 Skoda Kamiq 85TSI and it’s the first tiny SUV you can buy for its practicality and uncompromising nature.
Spoiler alert: we think the Kamiq is best in the tiny SUV segment and it even outdoes its Volkswagen T-Cross cousin. Why so? Read on to find out.
Price & Equipment: 9.0/10
Like other Skoda products in Australia, the 2020 Skoda Kamiq offers pretty strong value for money right from the get go. Three models are offered locally: the base 85TSI tested, the mid-spec Monte Carlo 110TSI and the Limited Edition 110TSI. We tested the entry level 85TSI auto, which is priced from $29,990 drive away.
Standard equipment is excellent, with features including 18-inch alloy wheels, LED lighting, auto lights and wipers, keyless entry and start with an alarm, auto-folding/heated mirrors, dual-zone climate control with rear air vents, an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless phone charging, four USB-C charging ports, an eight-speaker sound system, a digital driver’s display, an electric bootlid and Skoda’s usual ‘simply clever’ features including an umbrella in the door, various hooks and nets in the boot, an ice scraper that triples as a magnifying glass and tyre tread indicator in the fuel cap and even a rechargeable torch in the boot.
Safety kit is great too with seven airbags, low-speed auto emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning with lane keep assist, rear auto braking, adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality, auto-dimming rear mirrors and driver attention monitoring. Expect the 2020 Skoda Kamiq to come with a 5 star ANCAP safety rating soon.
We see the $29,990 plus on-road costs Volkswagen T-Cross 85TSI Life, the $29,490 drive away Mazda CX-3 Maxx Sport auto and the $29,990 plus on-road costs Ford Puma as the biggest rivals to the Kamiq. While the Mazda is $500 cheaper than the Skoda and does offer standard blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, the Kamiq offers significantly more equipment in total than these three rivals.
Performance & Fuel Economy: 8.0/10
Buyers might initially be surprised and worried by the fact that the Kamiq comes with what seems to be a dinky 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo engine. Hitting the starter button reveals a little more vibration than expected, before the three pot settles down into an almost imperceptible idle. This little 1.0-litre unit found in the Skoda Kamiq 85TSI is a absolutely marvellous on the move however. With only 85kW (at 5500rpm) and 200Nm (2000–3500rpm) going to the front wheels through a seven speed automatic dual-clutch automatic gearbox, you won’t be winning any land speed records, but the drivetrain feels thoroughly developed and oozes character.
The Kamiq always feels sprightly and once you get rolling, the entire driving experience is a world away from the frantic feel found in some other small SUVs such as the Mazda CX-3. Around town, the Kamiq is extremely zippy, giving you confidence to go for those gaps in traffic or overtake slower traffic. There’s simply no need to rev the engine out at all, and even when cruising on the highway, the engine settles at a hushed 2000rpm at 100km/h. Putting your foot down makes the three pot emit a characterful growl, as speed builds smoothly and quickly. We cannot stress how much of a gem this little engine is.
It’s a shame that such a brilliant little engine is fitted to what is one of our only gripes with the entire Kamiq package: the seven-speed dual-clutch auto. The gearbox suffers from the characteristic lag seen in other gearboxes of the same type and can feel clunky when moving off from a standstill.
Skoda claims a very respectable combined-cycle fuel consumption rating of 5.1L/100km and our test car averaged read closer to 7L/100km after mostly suburban driving.
Ride & Handling: 8.5/10
Heading out onto the road, you immediately feel that the Kamiq has been well engineered to offer both a comfortable ride and driver appeal behind the wheel. The Skoda Kamiq 85TSI feels stable and sure-footed through corners and the the cabin is very well-insulated. making for a relatively quiet ride. City driving is super easy thanks to light and direct steering, which allows the Kamiq to dart through city streets with precision. The Kamiq’s diminutive dimensions and excellent visibility also make even the most complicated parking manoeuvres a doddle. It rides over large bumps with ease, gliding over Melbourne’s worst imperfections, whilst never feeling floaty.
Venturing out of town onto some twisty roads reveals the Kamiq’s poise and surprising reserves of grip through corners. The Kamiq feels like a well sorted hatchback, rather than any other small SUV. It feels even better than the Volkswagen T-Cross on which its so closely based. The tight, damp curves around Healesville in Victoria were no match for the Kamiq, with the little SUV gripping tenaciously with even the most demanding drivers at the wheel.
Whether in town or in the country, the Kamiq’s cabin remains nice and quiet with only some mild tyre roar coming from the Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 3 tyres on course surfaces. Rivals such as the Mazda CX-3 will prove to be much noisier on the open road and no mainstream small SUV has the solid on road feel of the Skoda Kamiq.
Interior & Practicality: 9.5/10
The Skoda Kamiq’s interior is one of the finest in the segment – it’s brilliant inside. It manages to combine an interesting and modern design with clever and practical touches, as well as impeccable ergonomics. Unlike the much more expensive Volkswagen T-Roc, or the sibling T-Cross, the materials used in the Kamiq are exceptional for this size of car.
Settling into the comfortable driver’s seat, Skoda’s latest iteration of the ‘Virtual Cockpit’ digital dials look great. It’s super clear and easy to read, and offers some of the best functionality we’ve seen. Equally, the floating 8.0-inch touchscreen perched on the top of the dashboard is intuitive and responsive to use, even if it could be a tad larger. Skoda has future proofed the Kamiq with USB-C ports instead of the traditional USB-A ports found on most other cars – while newer phones are equipped with USB-C cord, you’ll need an adaptor for older ones.
The airy feel of the Kamiq’s interior is helped by the variety of colours and textures on display throughout the cabin. The fabric door trims, adjustable centre armrest, soft touch dash and all LED lighting really injects some life into the little Skoda in a way that no other small SUV can match. The dashboard and front door trims are nice and soft too, and very tastefully textured.
It’s easy to get comfortable as a passenger too, with a beautifully supportive front seat, whilst rear passengers will be able to stretch out as they enjoy the rear air vents (which is somehow a class-exclusive feature!) and USB-C ports to charge their phones.
The boot is great as well with a very decent 400-litres with all seats in place, and 1395L with the rear seats folded – over 220L more than the CX-3. Even here, Skoda’s little Kamiq continues to surprise and delight. The tailgate is powered which is nice touch, and there are more nets in the boot than a fishing boat has to keep items from moving about.
Service & Warranty: 9.0/10
All Skodas in Australia are offered with a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, and the Kamiq is no exception. This warranty is definitely considered the norm these days amongst mainstream brands.
The Skoda Kamiq 85TSI will need a service every 12 months or 15,000kms, whichever comes first with servicing on the cheaper side for a car built in Europe if one of the two pre paid servicing packages are bought along with the car.
Three years of servicing the Skoda Kamiq 85TSI (45,000kms) costs just $800, while a five-year (75,000km) package will set you back $1400. The mechanically identical Volkswagen T-Cross three-year plan will set you back $990 for three years of servicing, while the VW’s five-year plan is $1,800.
The 2020 Skoda Kamiq DiscoverAuto rating: 8.8/10
The Kamiq is another exceptional offering from the Czech brand down under. Skoda had given us a pint sized SUV that is more than worthy of being recommended. Apart from a few characteristic transmission foibles, we can help but be throughly impressed by this little SUV which genuinely offers staggering levels of substance in terms of its practicality, usability and lack of apparent negatives.
Small SUVs are often flawed and dull to drive, giving no real reasons for purchasing them over their hatchback counterparts. The 2020 Skoda Kamiq however sits proudly above them all. It really is a cracker.