26 September 2023

Skoda Making Suv Sense

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By Paul Gover.

It’s easy to get lost in the swirling scrum of midfield SUVs.

It happens to shoppers and it can also happen to cars.

One of those is the Skoda Kamiq.

It’s a compact SUV that’s a close cousin to the Volkswagen T-Cross, which shares the same basic mechanical package but misses the design flair that’s become a signature for cars from the Czech Republic.

At Skoda, the Kamiq sits below the family-sized Karoq and the all-in, seven-seater Kodiaq.

That means a 1.5-litre turbo engine, front-wheel drive, a cabin that’s fine for four, plenty of 5-star safety equipment and an equipment list that appeals to young (er) buyers.

Priced from $34,690 it’s not cheap, but it’s pretty good value against the midfield SUVs including the Hyundai Kona and Kia Seltos. The South Koreans get four-wheel drive for a similar price, but that’s not a big deal for most owners, while the Kamiq considerably undercuts something like the Jeep Compass when it comes to the showroom sticker.

Things get really silly on the dollar dealing if you go for an Audi, BMW or Benz badge …

And yet the Kamiq looks, feels and drives like a premium European SUV.

Skoda also has relatively short waiting times, a big deal for people have been waiting – or facing – a delay of six months or more for a Hyundai, Kia or Toyota.

The Kamiq is a tidy little unit, easy to park and handy for city-and-suburban errands, yet also quietly capable in the countryside.

It’s no fireball from the lights, but makes good use of 110 kiloWatts and a seven-speed DSG. Sometimes it’s better to take manual control to get the best effect, and maximum overtaking punch, but the Kamiq can also turn impressive economy at less than 5 litres/100 kilometres if you use the Eco mode.

The handling is fine for a compact SUV, better than a Compass but unlikely to worry a Ford Puma, and it stops well with a slightly sporty firmness to the ride.

Inside, the materials are classy and the car is well finished.

Surprisingly for something so small, there is reasonable legroom for adults in the back – where passengers will also find air vents, USB-C outlets and cubbies for water bottles.

The dashboard is clean and functional, with an infotainment screen that’s big for the price and class, with controls and dials that could easily advertise the Kamiq as a Volkswagen and not a Skoda.

And that’s the thing, because the Kamiq is a Volkswagen (Group) product and that means a lot for someone who wants something good in their new SUV.

It doesn’t have the rock-solid reputation of a Toyota, or the latest refinement and comfort of a Kia or Hyundai, but it’s a very good car that deserves more attention and more buyers.

Now, if only Skoda could find a way to get more people into its showrooms . . .


Position: Compact SUV

Price: from $34,690

Engine: 1.5-litre turbo petrol

Power: 110kW/250Nm

Transmission: 7-speed DSG, front-wheel drive

Plus: attractive, good value, nice drive

Minus: can be sluggish, not as well known as Volkswagen

THE TICK: It’s worthy

Score: 8/10

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