By Sam Charlwood, carsales.com.au
Mid-sized SUVs are one of the most popular types of vehicles for Australian families. Almost every mainstream car maker has something to offer in this class, but not all are as popular as they should be.
One of those that deserves to have a bigger following is the Skoda Karoq, which hasn’t quite matched the lofty sales heights of rivals like the Toyota RAV4, Mazda CX-5 and Hyundai Tucson.
The Czech brand has attempted to improve that situation with a mid-life facelift that brings a raft of improvements and styling updates.
Let’s see if the claims stack up…
Nip and tuck
Four years after it was first released, Skoda has made a series of evolutionary changes across its two-model Skoda Karoq range that introduce new features and coincide with moderate price increases.
As such, the range now opens at $43,090 plus on-roads for the entry-level Style and $49,490 (plus ORCs) for the punchier Sportline 4x4.
Even at that money, Skoda Australia claims the updates add more than $4000 of additional value compared to the models they replaced (previously priced from $39,990 and $46,990 drive-away respectively).
Standard equipment on both models include keyless entry and start, rear privacy glass, an eight-speaker sound system, wireless phone charging, dual-zone climate control, virtual cockpit, rear privacy glass, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, removable VarioFlex rear seats, powered tailgate with kick sensor, footwell lighting, rain-sensing wipers and adaptive cruise control.
Infotainment is taken care of by an 8.0-inch centre screen in the base Style variant, offering Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, digital radio, and Bluetooth. It is matched standard to a digital instrument cluster.
Buyers requiring satellite navigation will have to rely on smartphone mirroring on the base model or opt for the $5900 Tech Pack which bundles in a bigger 9.2-inch touch-screen, sat-nav with gesture control, Matrix LED headlights with adaptive high beam.
The Tech Pack also adds automatic parking assist, lane assist, a surround-view camera, traffic jam assist, rear traffic alert, emergency assist and ambient lighting.
The $10,900 Premium Pack, meanwhile, adds leather-appointed seat trim, power adjustment and memory function for the front row, heated front and outboard rear seats, a heat-insulated windscreen, heated steering wheel, paddle shifters and headlight washers.
Then there’s the safety suite. Officially, the Skoda Karoq is armed with a five-star ANCAP safety rating backdated to 2017.
Autonomous emergency braking (AEB), nine airbags and two ISOFIX attachment points in the rear seat are included.
However, upon thumbing through the optional extras brochure it’s clear just how Skoda managed to get to such a competitive price – making items including blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and lane keep assist additional cost.
The Karoq is offered with a seven-year/unlimited-kilometre factory warranty, and servicing intervals are spaced every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever comes first.
The Czech brand offers bundled ‘servicing packs’ at the point of purchase in Australia, priced at $1550 over five years.
As it was before, the two Karoq models are largely defined by their drivelines.
The 2022 Skoda Karoq Style driven here is powered by a 1.4-litre turbo-petrol engine (110TSI) developing 110kW/250Nm and bolted to an eight-speed automatic transmission driving just the front wheels.
At the top of the range, there’s the Karoq Sportline 4x4 which has a larger capacity 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine (140TSI) that channels its 140kW and 320Nm to the road via a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch auto with all-wheel drive and drive mode selection.
The base car notches 0-100km/h in 9.2sec claimed, while the flagship whittles down that time to 7.0sec.
Skoda designates both engines run on minimum 95 RON premium unleaded fuel. The front-driver consumes 6.5L/100km on the official combined cycle, while the all-wheel drive version returns 6.6L/100km.
The Karoq offers a 1500kg braked towing capacity in front-drive form, and 1900kg braked for the Sportline.
On the road
The 2022 Skoda Karoq picks up exactly where it left off from a practicality and driveability perspective.
The changes made in terms of design and technology certainly spruce up the mid-size SUV both in terms of its visual appeal and sense of occasion.
Subjectively, we are particularly fond of its restyled front-end; it’s a cleaner, bolder face that is likely to win more widespread praise.
Inside, small changes to the seats and dashboard centre fascia also go a long way in keeping the Karoq up to date with rivals for tech integration and presentation.
Unlike similar products within the Volkswagen group, the Skoda continues to offer conventional switchgear in its centre fascia – and frankly, we reckon it’s a better option.
If you want to use the climate control, you press the button right in front of you, instead of wading through multiple menus on a screen. Clean, simple, legible. It’s easier for everyone.
The Karoq offers moderate outward vision and space is sound in its first row. It gives away a little more in the second row, with the vehicle’s 4.39-metre overall length compromising some rear-seat knee-room compared with segment rivals.
That said, both rows are replete with excellent incidental storage and there are plenty of practical Skoda-isms present, including rubbish bins integrated into the door pockets and, of course, umbrellas.
The base car again features removable seats (dubbed VarioFlex in Skoda-speak). Doing so liberates up to 1810 litres of luggage space, and even with the second-row seats upright there’s still an ample 588 litres to play with – a space further complemented by luggage nets, bag hooks and a space-saver spare tyre underneath.
A small caveat is that the Sportline 4x4 foregoes the VarioFlex seats on account of its 4x4 underpinnings.
On the road, the 2022 Skoda Karoq again lives up to the virtues of the original car launched in 2018.
The 1.4-litre turbo-petrol engine fitted to the Style offers tractable and dependable performance in regular conveyance, with peak torque materialising from a lowly 1500rpm.
The torque-converter automatic transmission fitted to the Style lacks the expediency of VW’s better-known dual-clutch units in shifting, but makes up ground in low-speed amenity, largely avoiding the lurchiness of the 4x4 Sportline.
The Karoq also offers strong real-world efficiency on test, happily matching the claim in a mix of conditions including a lengthy stint on dual carriageway from Sydney to Bathurst.
On the circa two-hour journey, the ride and handling mix feels spot on for most Aussie duties, ably balancing a predictable handling package with well weighted controls and taut chassis reactions through changes in direction.
Ultimately, the base Karoq is a middle-ground balance for its ride and handling and won’t strike enthusiasts as particularly awe-inspiring.
But at least Skoda gives you the option of the sportier and more athletic 4x4 Sportline.
Adding it up
The incremental changes made to 2022 Skoda Karoq are greater than the sum of their individual parts and make overall improvements in all the right areas.
The caveat to that is probably the lengthy optional extras list, which asks for more in order to get to the specification you’re really after.
Otherwise, the Karoq offers broad appeal and practicality, and a drive experience that still stands up strongly among its peers.
The 2022 Skoda Karoq Style at a glance:
Editor’s Rating: 7.8/10
6.5L/100km (ADR Combined)
1.4-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol
147g/km (ADR Combined)
Five-star (ANCAP 2017)
Disclaimer: Images supplied by Skoda Australia.
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