The Skoda Karoq offers German build and Czech cleverness
SUV with nifty features The Skoda Karoq is brisk enough for urban roads. ST PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER TAN

The Skoda Karoq may be the smaller version of the Kodiaq, but it is still packed with clever, nifty features that sport utility vehicle owners will appreciate.

In the boot, easy-to-fasten netting is handy if you want to keep things from rolling about when on the go.

A pair of velcro-affixed partitions serve the same purpose for smaller items.

Hooks allow you to hang takeaway meals without the risk of spillage. A detachable LED flashlight is another handy item you will find in the boot.

These features make what is probably the most neglected part of the car a useful space.

If space is what you need more of, the rear seat backs can be folded, making 1,605 litres of stowage available. The seats can also be removed entirely for a total of 1,810 litres. Problem is, the seats are not all that easy to fold, remove or reinstate.

In the front row, a multi-purpose holder has compartments for coins, keys and cash card. Oh, there is a cupholder there as well.

Nearby, you will see an electronic parking brake flap with auto-hold button. And fore of that is one of the most convenient features found in a car: a wireless smartphone charger. The Karoq is among a select few mass-market cars that offer this feature.

While the Karoq is the car that the Seat Ateca is based on, it has a more modern drivetrain.

Power comes from a 1.5-litre inline-four turbo with cylinder deactivation. Under light load conditions, two of its cylinders shut down, conserving fuel.

Equipped with a seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission, it has slightly better economy and a higher top speed than the six-speed Ateca.

The test-car is a Style variant, which comes with a host of additional items.

These include LED headlights, powered tailgate, leather upholstery, driver seat with memory, paddle shifters and a slightly bigger infotainment screen with Columbus navigation and Canton hi-fi.

The Style variant also has 18-inch wheels (16-inch for the Ambition variant) and additional safety features such as low-speed emergency braking, blindspot detection and rear-traffic alert.

The Ambition variant does not have these frills or wireless phone-charging, but it costs $10,000 less.

At the wheel, the Karoq is predictably pleasant, like most of the Volkswagen Group's products these days. (Skoda, like Seat, belongs to VW.)

Squeeze the throttle and power is delivered promptly and smoothly.

While not exactly fast, it is brisk enough for the urban landscape, with its gearbox shuffling upwards almost imperceptibly to produce a hearty pace with acceptable haste.

Ride quality and handling are decent, with its overall driveability a byproduct of its compactness.

Yet, the car is familiar and nondescript, standing out more for its cabin accompaniment than its driving deftness (which, as mentioned, passes muster) or styling.

That is no indictment of the crossover though. As a utility vehicle, few can match it, even those far costlier.

That said, a flatter rear floor would have made it even better.