The Kamiq is a brand-new small SUV that’s impressive enough to bring Skoda out of the mainstream and into premium territory – without too much of a premium
This is the Skoda Kamiq, and you’ve never heard that name before (unless you’ve read our coverage of its first announcement). As you might guess from the ‘jumble-of- -characters-you’ve-also-never-seen-in-that-particular-sequence’ name this is a small, funky SUV that’s meant to win over buyers for Skoda in this SUV-mad age.
We expected the Kamiq to toe the Skoda line, i.e. offer plenty of car and equipment for the money, while cutting a few corners to keep costs to a friendly, mainstream level. But impressively, it manages to do quite a bit more than that.
The Kamiq slots in under the Karoq as Skoda’s first small SUV, and it’s offered here with one engine and three trim variants – read CarBuyer’s detailed news story for more info – with the entry-level Ambition spec kicking things off at S$119,900 with COE.
This car here is the range-topper, the Monte Carlo (MC) edition at S$127,900 with COE. Monte Carlo is itself a new trim level, announced only in late 2019, and makes its Singapore debut on the Scala and Kamiq.
Given local buyers’ proclivity for sporty-looking cars, the MC trim makes immediate sense since it’s only a S$2k premium over the mid-range Style variant. The MC gets blacked out bits (grille, rear diffuser, mirrors, roof rails) and unique 18-inch wheels.
That makes quite a difference to the eyes, especially with the red paintwork of the test car, and the Kamiq Monte Carlo (MC) is probably the sportiest-looking Skoda to date, Octavia VRS aside. The car’s typical SUV cues and new ‘crystal look’ daytime running lights and split-LED headlamps also give it a dash of individuality.
As mentioned in that news story, the Kamiq is an in-betweener – it’s smaller than a ‘normal’ small SUV like a Honda HR-V, but larger than a truly compact/city crossover like the Kia Stonic. But because of the styling, and the Monte Carlo additions, the Kamiq has a larger road presence than its footprint suggests. In fact, that outsized-ness is something of a running theme for the Kamiq.
As a Skoda, we expected to find in the Kamiq a sensible layout paired with decent, but not outstanding, material choice, and plenty of features. Instead we had to recalibrate our brand expectations, especially when looking also at the Kamiq’s launch sibling, the Scala hatchback.
MC trim certainly boosts things with a real carbon panel spanning the cabin, red stitching, perforated leather, sport seats and a panoramic sunroof, but it’s not as if the Kamiq is bare without them.
Skoda has made an obvious step up with material and feel of the cockpit. There’s very little hard plastic to be found – the entire upper dash and instrument panel cowl are soft touch material, while the buttons have pleasing haptics. For example, nowthere’s two chrome roller buttons on the wheel for menu navigation and media controls, a big update from the clicky black plastic rockers on older Skodas.
The Kamiq doesn’t lag in the tech arena, and that’s also quite obvious since the literal bright spots of the cabin are the 10.25-inch active instrument panel, and the 8.0-inch infotainment screen.
Both display what drivers should look for in a premium digital cockpit – clear graphics with lag-free response and ease of use, with customisation options. Smart devices are catered to with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as a wireless charge pad.
It also keeps up on the other important tech element: Active safety. The base Ambition variant only has autonomous front braking/collision mitigation, but the Style and MC variants have every trick there is – blind spot monitoring, lane keep/assist, adaptive cruise with steering assist, which is what we expect from any car costing more than S$100k with COE now.
As a small car, there’s good space for four adults, and pushing three in the second row will only cause strife on longer journeys. Headroom is good, as expected of a crossover, and 1.8-metre tall occupants have no trouble even in the rear.
Boot space is good, at 400-litres, and you could fit a bicycle with the seats folded down.