2020 Skoda Karoq Review: One Practical SUV
Price & Equipment:8
Performance & Economy:8.5
Ride & Handling:8
Interior & Practicality:9.5
Service & Warranty:8
What we like:
  • Excellent digital driving display
  • Interior quality and practicality
  • Clever boot
What we don't like:
  • Requires premium fuel
  • No blind-spot monitoring
  • Expensive option packs
8.4DiscoverAuto Rating

Czech brand Skoda has slowly been increasing its sales levels since its Australian re-launch in 2007. In the early years, you’d rarely see one but thanks to a slew of new products, more dealerships and – most importantly – a lot more brand awareness, Skoda sells almost 1,000 cars per month nowadays and those figures are increasing. One product helping the brand’s sales increase is the Karoq mid-size SUV, which has gained a reasonable following thanks to its practicality, dynamics and value for money. Is the 2020 Skoda Karoq the best choice for a $35k SUV? Let’s find out.

Price & Equipment:

Unlike almost every other competitor, the 2020 Skoda Karoq is available in Australia in just two different models: the entry-level 110TSI and the sporty 140TSI Sport line. We tested the former, which is priced from $35,990 drive away. In sizing, the Karoq sits at the upper end of the small SUV segment – it’s bigger than a Mazda CX-30, for example. Yet Skoda also says that it competes with bigger cars such as the Mazda CX-5 as well – and on interior space, it’s true.

You get a lot of equipment for the money, including 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control with rear air-vents, an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a reversing camera with rear parking sensors, a digital driver’s display, keyless entry and start with an alarm, multi-colour ambient lighting, a rear centre arm rest with cupholders, auto lights and wipers, LED daytime running lights and an electric parking brake with auto hold functionality.

Skodas are known for their ‘simply clever’ features too, which include an umbrella, a rubbish bin, cup holders with ‘teeth’ to help open a bottle while driving, dividers in the boot to protect valuables, a boot mat where one side is plastic and the other carpet so you can hose it off, a plethora of boot nets and hooks and even iPad holders on the rear of the front seats – they’re standard on all Karoqs and no other manufacturer offers a lot of them even as accessories.

Safety kit is well taken care of with seven airbags, auto emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection, rear auto braking, adaptive cruise control and driver fatigue monitoring – though we’d like to see lane assist, auto high beam, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert added to the standard spec.

Unlike competitors, Skoda doesn’t offer the Karoq in different models, instead you have optional packages. The $3,800 Travel Pack adds extra safety kit including blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, traffic jam assist and lane keep assist, as well as auto-folding/dimming mirrors, an electric driver’s seat with memory functionality and leather upholstery with heated front seats. We’d tick that one.

The $3,700 Premium Pack adds 18-inch alloy wheels, LED lighting with corner lamps, an electric tailgate, front parking sensors, metal pedals and faux leather upholstery.

Then there’s the $4,200 Tech Pack, which adds automatic parking, kick-to-open tailgate ability, a Canton sound system, wireless phone charging, a larger 9.2-inch centre screen with digital radio and inbuilt satellite navigation and three keys with different personalisation features for each. Our test car had all three packages fitted, as many local Karoqs do.

These packs combined add $11,700 to the price, though Skoda discounts them if you want all three packs to $8,500. While that may seem steep, other brands would offer a similar amount of kit in a higher-spec model for likely more money.

Also, optionally available are $900 19-inch alloy wheels, and a $1,900 panoramic sunroof.

Engine & Drive:

Under the bonnet of the 2020 Skoda Karoq is a 110kW/250Nm 1.5-litre turbo-petrol engine that’s matched to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. That’s what our test car had, though Skoda has switched Aussie models to a 1.4-litre turbo-petrol engine with the same outputs. Crucially, this engine is matched to an eight-speed torque converter auto, and is still front-wheel drive. While many new 1.5-litre Karoqs remain in stock, we’d wait for the 1.4L, as the dual-clutch auto in the 1.5L can be jerky and unrefined at low speeds, just like many other dual-clutch units from a variety of manufacturers.

The 1.5-litre engine is very smooth though, and unlike naturally aspirated units in competitors, it’s quiet too. The peak 250Nm of torque is produced from just 1,500rpm, which means that you don’t have to rev it to get the most out of it. Around town, it’s great – it’s punchy, refined and even has a cheeky little note to go with it. On highways it’s fine too, though with a claimed 0-100km/h time of 8.8 seconds, it’s not the fastest car in the world (and nor does it set out to be).

Those looking for a faster Karoq should look at the Sportline, which hits 100km/h in just 7.3 seconds.

While it must be filled with premium unleaded, fuel economy in the Karoq is great. Skoda claims 5.8L/100km combined, and we recorded 6.5L/100km in our testing – way less than a Mazda CX-5 or Kia Sportage. This is helped by the engine’s cylinder deactivation function, which shuts down two cylinders when cruising – note that the 1.4L Karoq doesn’t feature this tech.

Ride & Handling:

Driving the Karoq is a pleasing – though not particularly fun – experience. Based on the same mechanicals and platform as a current Volkswagen Golf, the 2020 Skoda Karoq feels just that to drive: a slightly taller Golf. Considering that the Golf is easily the most solid small hatch you can buy, that’s high praise indeed – but those looking for a bit more fun behind the wheel will have to upgrade to the Karoq Sportline and its standard all-wheel drive system.

Despite featuring a less sophisticated torsion beam rear suspension set up, the Karoq rides totally fine and proves that a torsion beam can be well tuned. On the 18-inch wheels of our test car, it does ride firm but it’s never uncomfortable though we’d certainly not tick the larger 19-inch option. The steering is well weighted too, though a little devoid of feel. Visibility is excellent however, thanks to large windows, and road noise is well subdued as well. There’s very little to complain about here.

Interior & Practicality:

The interior of the 2020 Skoda Karoq is a pleasant and high-quality place to spend time. It doesn’t feature a hugely exciting layout, but everything is built solidly from the thunk of the doors to the use of quality materials, the Volkswagen Group’s influence on Skoda is seen none other than the quality of its interiors. And generally, the fit and finish of the Karoq is better than the more expensive Volkswagen Tiguan – soft-touch materials spread further around the cabin, the seats are softer and the leather is higher quality as well.

Centre of the Karoq’s cabin is a 9.2-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, digital radio and inbuilt satellite navigation. It’s a fully featured unit, though live traffic updates for the nav would be appreciated. The picture quality is fabulous though – it’s sharp, as is its reaction time from when you touch it. It even features gesture control to swipe between menus and songs, though this is temperamental at best. Our only complaint is the lack of a volume knob and that the main controls for the screen are on the passenger side, which is a hangover from a left-hand drive (LHD) market focus.

Standard on all Karoqs is the company’s ‘virtual cockpit’, which is a digital instrument cluster ahead of the driver. It can mimic traditional dials or turn into a sportier single dial arrangement – it’s quite configurable and it adds a level of richness to the cabin. If you choose the Tech Pack, it adds a map and directions in front of you, which is helpful when driving, though greater smartphone mirroring integration would be helpful if you use maps off your phone. Even more helpful would be a heads-up display, which is not yet available on any Karoq globally.

While the 2020 Skoda Karoq is a great all-rounder, its practicality really shines above competitors. Despite not being huge on the outside, the interior is comfortably as roomy as the larger Mazda CX-5 with more than adequate space for six-footers in both rows. Headroom is particularly impressive, and the rear seats are comfortable too, though it would be nice to see some rear charging ports added (there’s only a 12V socket). Boot space is an impressive 588-litres, but when the seats are folded and removed, a massive 1,810L is on offer.

Unlike most competitors where the rear seats are just a folding affair, the Karoq’s are split into three, and each slide and recline to increase space for either rear seat occupants or the boot. They fold and tumble and can be removed entirely for truly van-like space. The boot also offers many hooks and nets to keep luggage from sliding around when driving. There’s also a removable boot light that’s magnetic. It’s this level of thought that makes the Karoq the only medium SUV to buy if you’re using practicality as the main reason for buying a car. In this area, the Karoq is without peer.

Service & Warranty:

All new Skodas in Australia are covered by a five-year/unlimited km warranty and a year of roadside assistance that’s topped up with each service at a Skoda dealership up to six years. Service pricing for the 2020 Skoda Karoq is quite reasonable at $1,139 for three years, though you can pre-pay for servicing when purchasing the car: three years is just $800 (an average of $266 per service) and five years is $1,400 ($280 per service). Uniquely, Skoda also offers a four-year pack for used cars too at $1,300.

Servicing the Mazda CX-30 over the same time period costs $1,061 – though keep in mind that’s only to 30,000km thanks to the Mazda’s shorter service intervals. Five years? That’ll be $1,907 (and only to 50,000km – not the 75,000km of the Skoda).

The 2022 Skoda Karoq DiscoverAuto Rating:

Offering a high level of talent, the 2020 Skoda Karoq really is an excellent choice in the small-to-medium SUV segment. It’s well priced and well equipped, it drives well and it’s extremely practical too.

The entry level 110TSI is not the most fun car to drive, a Mazda CX-30 has a more luxurious cabin and there are too many optional extras for our liking, but the Karoq is the first (well, the second after the Yeti it replaced) small-to-medium SUV that you can say that you bought for its practicality, though there are so many more reasons to buy one. It’s increasing Skoda sales but we think it should be selling a lot more – it really is that good.

About The Author

Jake is the veteran automotive journalist in the DiscoverAuto team having been in the industry since 2017. His first word was Volvo, he nitpicks every piece of practical design and has an unhealthy obsession for cars that feature rain-activated headlights.

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