The Skoda Karoq has just been facelifted…
Skoda has given its small crossover a minor facelift; we try it in its strangely powerful 2.0 TSI form
The Volkswagen Group brands have a habit of offering strangely powerful non-hybridised petrol engines in models with relatively little sporting intent. So while most examples of the Skoda Karoq, the Czech manufacturer’s small crossover, will be fitted with a 148bhp 1.5 TSI, you can also get one with a 187bhp 2.0 TSI engine and four-wheel drive.
That version, in top-spec Sportline trim, is what we have here. We’re driving a Skoda Karoq again because it has just been facelifted. You would be forgiven for having missed that news, because the changes are pretty minor.
On the outside, the bumpers have been given the usual nip and tuck, there’s a longer rear spoiler and two new paint colours and the headlights are slimmer than before, with the option of LED matrix units.
Inside, there are a few new choices of seat upholstery.
The Karoq has been around since 2017, making it one of the older cars in the segment that includes the Kia Sportage, Seat Ateca, Nissan Qashqai and Toyota RAV4 but also a few smaller, supposedly more stylish options like the Toyota C-HR and Volkswagen T-Roc.
Unusually for a Skoda, it’s at the less spacious end of that class.
Unfortunately, it isn’t any cheaper than most rivals, either. The 1.5 TSI automatic in the cheapest (but reasonably well-equipped) SE Drive trim starts from £29,055, which is roughly the same as a Qashqai or T-Roc but more expensive than a Sportage. Go for a 2.0 TSI Sportline, like our test car, and that jumps to £37,725. In fact, our particular Karoq had a few other options on it, making it even pricier, at £40,440.
The 2.0 TSI Sportline is likely to be a rare sight, then, but that won’t be because it’s no good. In fact, in many ways, some of today’s Skodas are very much like Volkswagens of 10 years ago.
They aren’t particularly flash, they’re neither the sportiest nor the comfiest choice and their interiors don’t have that ‘premium’ sheen of an Audi or Mercedes-Benz, but they strike a nice balance in all those areas.
To top it off, the interior feels well-built and intuitive to use, thanks to plenty of chunky physical controls. Even the infotainment in this one is a pretty decent effort, with a selection of shortcut buttons and none of the glitchiness of newer Volkswagen Group products.
This moderately brisk Sportline impresses on the road, too. With a 0-62mph time of 7.0sec, it easily zips past slower traffic, and you can make good progress when the roads are clear.
Annoyingly, that’s accompanied by fake V8 noises when in Sport driving mode.
If you don’t boot it all the time, you might even see 40mpg on a motorway cruise. The Sportage needs a battery and an electric motor helping out to achieve those kinds of figures in the real world.
On its adaptive dampers, this Karoq rides quite softly, although potholes can trip it up and cause some crashiness. At 70mph, the cabin remains pleasantly quiet. Good grip and precise, well-weighted steering mean the Sportline branding is more than blind optimism.
So, is it worth £40,000? Even in today’s crazy car market, that might be rather ambitious, because there are plenty of alternatives at that price, including some other Skodas. The much more practical Skoda Superb Estate with the same engine will set you back no more. There are plenty of plug-in hybrid options to choose from, too, which will be more appealing for company-car drivers.
The Karoq still has plenty going for it, but the 1.5 TSI will be a smarter buy than this 2.0 TSI.