SUVs and crossovers accounted for a quarter of all European passenger vehicle sales last year, and the segment’s rapid growth, particularly of small SUVs, is set to continue, with the sector expanding to over two million sales in 2018 and to 2.3 million by 2020.
So it’s not surprising that manufacturers are developing their ranges to meet the growing demand for this type of vehicle. The latest newcomer in the compact SUV segment, which will replace the now defunct Yeti, is slated for its world premiere on May 18 in Stockholm, with the market launch set for the second half of 2017. Meet the SKODA KAROQ.
The name and its spelling originate from the language of the Alutiiq, an indigenous tribe who live on an island off the southern coast of Alaska.
As with the larger SKODA KODIAQ, the people from Kodiak Island provided the inspiration for the name of the KAROQ. In the language of the indigenous people from the Alutiiq tribe who live there, ‘car’ is ‘KAA’RAQ’, and they use the term ‘RUQ’ for ‘arrow’, which is the symbol that constitutes the central element of SKODA’s logo. So the name for the new compact SUV was formed from the combination of both words.
“The SKODA KAROQ is a completely newly-designed SUV that sets new benchmarks for our brand and its segment in every way. With this new SUV, we are taking the next logical step in our SUV strategy,” says SKODA CEO Bernhard Maier.
It is reportedly based on the Volkswagen Group’s MQB platform and will be sharing its underpinnings with cars like the Volkswagen Tiguan and SEAT Ateca. There will be five engine variants, two petrol and three diesel, of which four are new.
The two petrol engines and two of the diesels are new in the line-up. The displacement ranges are 1.0, 1.5, 1.6 and 2.0 litres; the power range is from 85 kW (115 hp) to 140 kW (190 hp). All drivetrains are turbo-charged direct injection units and feature start-stop technology and brake energy recovery.
They are ‘extremely economical’ and comply with EU 6 regulations. With the exception of the most powerful diesel, all drivetrains can be ordered with a 6-speed manual gearbox or 7-speed DSG. The 2.0 TDI with 140 kW (190 hp) comes as standard with 4×4 drive and 7-speed DSG. The new 1.5 TSI, meanwhile, has the special feature of cylinder deactivation.
SKODA claims that the KAROQ chassis also sets benchmarks in its segment and ‘demonstrates its quality even off the beaten track’.
With the higher level equipment specs, a driving profile selection with Normal, Sport, Eco, Individual and Snow (4×4) modes is available, while the Off-road mode in the all-wheel-drive variant improves the driving characteristics on rough terrain.
The car is 4,382 mm long, 1,841 mm wide, and 1,605 mm high, with a long wheelbase of 2,638 millimetres (all-wheel version: 2,630 mm). The luggage compartment has a capacity of 521 litres with the back seats in place, increasing to 1,630 litres with the rear seats folded down. In combination with the optional VarioFlex rear seat, the boot space is variable and can hold between 479 and 588 litres. The seats can also be completely removed, turning the SUV into a van with a maximum loading capacity of 1,810 litres.
SKODA says the KAROQ is ‘at the top of its segment with innovative connectivity solutions’. The infotainment building blocks come from the second generation of the group’s modular infotainment kit, offering state-of-the-art functions and interfaces and it is equipped with capacitive touch displays.
The top Columbus and Amundsen systems have a WLAN hotspot, with an optional LTE module available for the Columbus system. The Internet connection “is based on today’s fastest mobile radio standard, with which passengers can surf and access email freely with their phones and tablets”.
The new mobile online services dubbed SKODA Connect are LTE-compatible and are divided into two categories: Infotainment online services are used for information and navigation while the CareConnect services offer assistance in case of breakdowns and emergencies.
The Emergency Call button, which will come as standard in Europe in 2018, is now available as a Care-Connect service. Additional online services can be accessed via the SKODA Connect app. These can be used to remotely check, configure and find the car via a smartphone.
Intelligent networking between car and smartphone is an increasingly important aspect of modern day motoring, and the Czech manufacturers claim it “has reached a new level in the SKODA KAROQ”.
The SmartLink+ platform, compatible with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLinkTM, is available as an option for the basic infotainment system Swing and comes as standard with higher infotainment systems. The phone box with inductive charging couples the smartphone to the roof antenna and simultaneously charges it wirelessly.
The KAROQ also offers a comprehensive range of driver assistance systems including a parking assistant, Lane Assist and traffic-jam assistant. Blind Spot Detect, Front Assist with predictive pedestrian protection and Emergency Assistant also serve to increase safety. The car can tow trailers of up to two tonnes, and a new trailer assistant helps when reversing and manoeuvring.
A freely programmable digital instrument panel is available for the first time in a SKODA, allowing the cockpit displays to be set according to the driver’s individual wishes.
Although SKODA hasn’t yet released photos of the interior, we do know that inside there will be new LED ambient lighting in the decor strips of doors and the dashboard that can be set in ten colours to create “a pleasant atmosphere”.
As part of the company’s Strategy 2025, the brand will be continually expanding its model range over the coming years. The primary focus will be on broadening the SUV range.
The SKODA KODIAQ recently became the brand’s first large SUV to be launched on international markets, and with the KAROQ, SKODA says it has now reached ‘the next milestone’