By Seán Creedon
Ten years ago Skoda launched their boxy-looking Yeti, which seemed to be popular with Skoda customers. But maybe it wasn’t popular enough because two years ago the Czech manufacturer decided to kill-off the Yeti and replace it with the Karoq.
Skoda obviously reckoned that this solid-looking car would do better in what is a very crowded SUV sector and compete with cars like the Hyundai Tucson, Nissan Qashqai and Kia Sportage.
One critic said that it was an ‘abominable decision’ by Skoda to get rid of the Yeti. That probably sums it up the car very well; the Yeti spawned some terrible headlines right to the end.
Now Skoda has given us a sporty version of their Karoq, which they labelled as ‘a compact with impact.’ The Karoq sits just below the Kodiaq in the Skoda range and offers plenty of space and functionality for five people.
Last week I drove the Sportline version of the Karoq which has some exterior styling revision including gloss black front grille insert, gloss black rear diffuser and changes to the bumper design. Overall black is the main these with black roof rails and 18-inch Mytikas black alloy wheels.
The test car came in Quartz Grey Metallic and coupled with all those touches of black I think if Johnny Cash was still with us, all that black would appeal to him.
Inside the sporty theme is continued with very attractive fabric on the seats, aluminium sports pedal cluster and a flat-bottomed sports leather steering wheel. The dash area is well laid out and all the controls are user friendly.
I showed the car to a man in a car workshop who recently bought a regular Karoq and he said to his son who was working with him, ‘we should have waited for the Sportline version.’
The boot is huge and as usual with Skoda you get a full-size spare wheel. Skoda always has a few nice touches with umbrellas in the doors and a simple clip on the windscreen to hold parking tickets (the ones you pay for in advance).
Two weeks back the Renault Kadjar I drove had a ‘puddle light’ when I stepped out of the car at night. The Karoq also had a ‘puddle light’ which spelt out the word Skoda. Nice touch.
Skoda is part of the VW group and the brand is certainly here to stay. If you look around you when driving it’s obvious that Irish people have embraced the Skoda brand with so many different Skoda cars on the road.
The Karoq and the larger Kodiaq are similar in design. The Octavia and Superb are very popular with taxi drivers, while the small Fabia is ideal for young people or for couples downsizing. Then you have the Rapid, which was used by Pope Francis on his visit to Ireland in August last year.
So many models to choose from, but so little time! You know the old song, ‘Enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think.’ Give the Karoq Sportline a test drive, I think you will enjoy yourself.
Prices start at €28,350 for the 1.0-litre petrol, while the frugal 1.6 diesel that I drove starts at €29,950.
Road tax varies between €200 and €270. As usual with Skoda there are three trims: Ambition, Style and Sportline. If you are thinking of PCP, there are various offers available from Skoda.