Decisions, decisions, decisions, and if it concerns choosing a family SUV then you are in for a hard time.
Why? Because there are around 20 to choose from and they are all good. Make that very good.
But I am going to take a punt on the Skoda Karoq making the top three for a lot of buyers. Yes a Skoda, once the butt of all jokes so much so that Skoda joined in the fun happy to take the mickey out of themselves in some brilliant TV adverts. That is ancient history although there are still people of a certain age who will not give the badge garage space, like my neighbour’s wife. He has come to like them having looked at many on my drive down the years but got short shrift from his wife when he suggested taking a look around a Skoda showroom.
So what is it that makes Karoq so appealing? For me it is a well thought out family SUV, making good use of space and packed with thoughtful odds and sods. Simple things like elasticated straps in door bins and boot wall pockets to stop things rolling around, sliding hooks for shopping bags and the like, a reversible boot mat, rubber one side, carpet the other, chilled glovebox, ice scraper in the fuel filler cap and, of course, the now famous umbrella secreted under the passenger seat.
Children, and no doubt adults, will appreciate the mobile phone holder that slots into the front seat head rests along with the flip up trays in the seat backs, all part of the company’s Simply Clever philosophy. Rivals could take a leaf out of that book.
It is no surprise that Karoq is the third best seller in the range, or that SUVs account for 50 per cent of Skoda sales. Yet it is not a car that stands out. It’s not bad looking but nowhere near as eye catching as a Peugeot 3008 or the latest Kia Sportage. Inside is pretty ordinary as well although everything flows seemlessly and now has high end tech and infotainment upgrades in this second generation model.
The line up is simple, just three models SE Drive, tested here, SE L and Sportline with a choice of two diesel and three petrol engines. Some will think the three cylinder one litre engine too small for a car this size, well think again.
It is no flyer but has a satisfying amount of pull at low revs so you are not dropping a gear for every overtake, and it scoots along sweetly at motorway speed. Small three cylinder engines have been the stars of the 21st century surprising everyone with their performance and economy and Karoq’s tiddler is a another fine example.
It is no class leader on economy but mid forties should be a ball park for most drivers. I managed 47mpg over 450 miles of mixed driving with a best of 48mpg on a 120 mile round trip. It would do a lot better with hybrid power, look what it does for Toyota and Honda hybrids, but Skoda has no plans to go down that road. If Karoq has an Achilles heel that is it.
The entry SE Drive has a reasonable amount of equipment with a fast response touchscreen for radio, navigation and other bits of car info, LED headlights, front parking sensors (go up a level for a rear camera) electronic parking brake, and pleasing physical buttons for heating controls.
It has a speed limiter and cruise control, but working out how to use it took a bit more time than usual.
There good adult size space all round and at SEL level the back seats can be removed providing even more carrying space although Karoq is up there with the best for boot space even with the seats in place.
A hybrid engine option would certainly widen the Karoq’s appeal but it still stays in my top three for a family SUV.
Karoq SE Drive
1.0 litre TSI 109bhp
0-62mph 11.3secs; 118mph
132g/km. 1st tax £255
Boot: 521-1630 litres
Insurance group 10