It’s a familiar problem; you have to pick up a Christmas tree and somehow get it home along with maybe a few other seasonal plants and excited children.
Most motorists resort to tying the netted tree onto their roof and hoping it stays there but the flexible seating in the Skoda Karoq offers a more practical packaging solution unless you have a very long tree.
The split folding rear seats drop in an instant to take an average sized tree and leave room beside for the kids, and what’s more there’s still room in the big boot to squeeze in a trio of potted plants. Job done.
Skoda has come from having some basic models to fielding a challenger in every sector on sale in Britain and in 2017 the Karoq replaced the somewhat odd looking Yeti with a mid-sized conventional looking crossover sitting between the smaller Kamiq and large Kodiaq.
It transformation was possible because Skoda was part of the Volkswagen Group so it could call on enormous resources for design, engineering and marketing. However, even this resource would not be enough if its models did not find buyers, but it does, in their thousands.
There are 18 Karoq models in SE, SE L and Sportline trims with 1.0 or 1.5 litre petrol or the 2.0 diesel and front or four wheel drive.
Our top of the range Sportline was one of the rare diesel models still on sale and a very good one at that, a familiar 2.0 TDI developing 150ps which gave it respectable performance and also really good economy.
One of the more interesting options was the inclusion of a temporary steel space saver wheel and tyre along with removable tow bar; winter, rough road and Amundsen packages. These bumped up the on-road price from almost £40,200 to £42,755, and being above the £40K threshold for lower road tax it also came with a hefty annual duty for six years in all.
The 2.0 litre engine was the backbone of the VW Group for many years and it was easy to start, comparatively quiet and a punchy engine with a lot of flexibility, hence the good fuel return with no effort.
You have four modes to refine the performance from eco, normal, sport and individual and its worth exploring these to get the best out of the powertrain.
The engine combined with the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission makes for a very easy driving nature underfoot, with quick changes that are usually seamless even if it could be a little jerky at take-off.
Brakes underfoot were strong and progressive in build up so the Karoq could be feathered to a stop or really sharply slow it down in a hurry. There was a nice weight to the power steering and no kickback or vibration but it did not give a lot of feedback at speed.
The Karoq Sportline with all-wheel-drive put down power without drama but a lot of confidence on intermittently damp surfaces and it never seemed to be bothered by mid-corner bumps or potholes although the tyres and suspension could be clearly and loudly heard working away underneath.
Its ride was very good for a 4WD model and the compliant springing was matched with extremely supportive, deep seats and reasonable adjustment on the front pair. Specify the flex seating in the back and you have even more ultimate space than in our standard Sportline.
Access was good through the doors or the tailgate with a low floor, protective covering and recesses as well as instantly increasing space with the seats progressively folded down.
Driver and passengers have reasonable room throughout, excellent visibility with a low waistline, big wipers front and back and strong washers, while the nights present no problem with intelligent wide beamed long range headlights and their cornering feature. Seats were heated infront along with the steering wheel, ideal for a cold winter’s day after handling trees and shrubs.
For the driver, the instruments were small but clear directly infront of the wheel and their appearance could be changed with the mode switch to emphasise elements. The bigger eight-inch touchscreen in the centre of the dash was touch-sensitive and carried the entertainment, Amundsen mapping and comms, which worked fine once set up.
Heating and ventilation was straightforward and effective throughout the cabin, backed up by powered windows all round.
Oddments room was good with plenty of compartments but some were not very deep or wide enough to take, say, a box of paper tissues, or anything but a small bottle of water.
The fit and finish inside was of a very high order and all lidded compartments closed with a satisfying click.
The build quality of the Karoq was certainly a match for much more expensive executive cars, which would struggle to take a Christmas tree as well as this Skoda did.
|Skoda Karoq Sportline
|Mechanical: 150ps 4cyl 2.0 turbo-diesel, 7sp 4WD
|Max Speed: 126mph
|Combined MPG: 47
|Insurance Group: 16
|C02 emissions: 160gkm
|Bik rating: 37%, £645FY, £570SRx5
|Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles
|Size: L4.39m, W1.85m, H1.62m
|Bootspace: 521 to 1630 litres
For: Very well equipped, surprisingly comfortable for a 4WD model, easy to drive, good performance and economy, big boot
Against: Road rumbles, vague handling, big road tax cost.