Skoda Karoq

We have, over the course of this car’s model cycle, tested 1.0 TSI, 1.5 TSI, 2.0 TSI and 2.0 TSI versions of it; and the engines we rated highest amongst those might not be the obvious ones. None of these engines deploy any meaningful hybridisation, although the 1.5-litre TSI is of the Volkswagen Group’s ‘1.5 TSI Evo’ family, and does have active cylinder shutdown. 

At the bottom of the range, the Karoq’s 109bhp, 1.0-litre TSI engine makes a perfectly decent fist of moving the car along. That it can only be paired with a six-speed manual gearbox is a bit of a shame, because it’s a pleasingly refined engine with adequate accessible torque, and it would make for a particularly quiet, low-effort kind of drive if partnered with Skoda’s two-pedal DSG. Also, being clearly quite light in the nose of the car, it evidently makes for gentler suspension rates, the influence of which we’ll come on to shortly.

Above that, the Karoq’s 1.5-litre, 148bhp TSI Evo engine is more of a mixed bag. It has more torque than the 1.0-litre, and gives it a more authoritative outright turn of speed; but it’s also noisier and a little thrashy when revving hard, and isn’t quite as economical at a cruise.

The 187bhp, 2.0-litre TSI petrol at the head of the engine range is a curious find in the car market of 2023, and makes for more than a modicum of pace and driver appeal in the Karoq; in the rare event you may be looking for that. Sure, it makes an unconvincing imitation V8 noise if you use Sport driving mode; but once you know to avoid that, it’s a pleasingly muscly powerplant that you can still stretch out to decent fuel economy when you need to.

The Karoq’s 2.0-litre TDI four-pot diesel engine is probably the smallest and slightest motor of its kind that you might seriously consider in a car for which you have regular towing or a bit of light off-roading in mind. That’s principally because you might reasonably expect a broader spread of accessible torque, and better drivability, of it than you’d see in the more highly tuned, smaller-capacity engines – now mostly petrol – that are becoming increasingly common in such cars.

It feels stout enough in its supply of midrange torque to handle a decent-sized caravan or trailer, or to haul itself up a muddy slope, when it’s on boost. But it’s not quite as flexible in its power delivery as you might hope for, feeling notably unresponsive if you let the rev counter drop much below 2000rpm in a higher gear, and getting surprisingly obstreperous and impotent above 4000rpm. 

The diesel certainly obliged you to make regular use of the Karoq’s slightly notchy and particular-feeling manual gearshift, and to be in a well-chosen gear whenever possible; as does the 1.0-litre TSI petrol. With the 1.5- and 2.0-litre TSIs, flexibility is a little better.

The Karoq’s four-wheel drive system, meanwhile, seems to find ample and sure-footed traction even under sudden throttle applications and in slightly slippery road conditions. It’s standard on the most powerful models, while, on the lesser powered ones, what traction there is at the front axle is typically enough for road driving.

Outright braking power is good, with adequate pedal feel that suggests slowing and stopping a moderately heavy trailer with smoothness would be easy enough.

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