Skoda’s mid-sized SUV/crossover the Karoq rocks into the segment with sub-$130k Japanese/Korean-challenger pricing aims to boost Czech brand’s sales even further
Photos: Jonathan Lim
We’ve test driven the Skoda Karoq! Read our review here!
SINGAPORE — Since its return to Singapore earlier this year, Skoda has been aiming straight for consumers’ wallets with keenly-priced models that offer a whole lot of features for the money.
The latest addition to the Czech-brand’s extra-value gallery is the Karoq, a mid-sized sport utility vehicle (SUV). Starting at $112,900 with COE, it hits the bullseye in terms of good segment pricing.
If that name rings no bells, that’s because it’s a new name which only appeared globally last year, having replaced the cult favourite Skoda Yeti. At one size up in the Skoda line-up is the seven-seat Kodiaq.
Like its brethren, the Karoq (pronounced ‘car-rock’) seems to offer plenty of car for the money.
As Skoda is a VW Group brand, the Karoq runs on the MQB platform, and is powered by a 1.5-litre, inline four-cylinder turbocharged engine.
It’s interesting because it marks the debut of this recently-developed VW Group engine in Singapore, but is currently not available anywhere other than the Karoq.
VarioFlex seat system on the higher-grade Style model has adjustable seats that can also be entirely removed for a massive 1,801-litres of space.
The Karoq’s 1.5-litre engine has 150hp, and 250Nm of torque. Mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, it does 0-100km/h in 9.0 seconds to a top speed of 203km/h.
It has a neutral B VES rating, with CO2 emissions of 133g/km and efficiency of 5.8L/100km. The latter is helped by Active Cylinder Management Technology (ACT) – also found on the current VW Tiguan 1.4 – which shuts off two-cylinders when power isn’t in high demand.
Two variants are on sale from Skoda Singapore: The basic Ambition (above left, in silver) and the higher-grade Style (above right in blue and black), which retail for $112,900 with COE and $122,900 with COE, respectively.
Skoda Karoq 1.5 Ambition – see the smaller 16-in wheels? We break down the differences between the two in the chart below.
|Skoda Karoq Ambition $112,900 with COE||Skoda Karoq Style $122,900 with COE|
|Halogen with LED DRL, foglights, LED rear lights||Full LED|
|Black roof rails||Silver roof rails|
|16-in wheels||18-in wheels|
|Conventional seats 521 to 1630-litres boot space||Varioflex Seating 479 to 588-litres,
1605-litres seats down, 1801-litres seats removed
|8.0-inch Bolero infotainment||9.2-inch Columbus infotainment system with navigation, Canton sound system|
|Standard equipment for Style and Ambition
2-zone climate control
Rear view camera PDC
Driver Alert system (fatigue)
Tyre pressure monitoring
|Additional equipment for Style
Powered front seats (driver memory)
Drive modes, paddle shifters
Front Assist with City Emergency Brake
Blind Spot Detect
Wireless phone charging box
Both variants are capable of smartphone integration such as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay (8.0-inch Bolero system shown above)
That’s good as it needs all the advantages it can pull: It steps into the hotly-contested mid-sized mainstream sport utility vehicle (SUV) segment.
This segment is currently populated by on the less-expensive end by populist titans such as the Nissan Qashqai (currently starting from $111,300 with COE, is in dead heat with the Karoq in price), while the Honda CR-V also offers a 1.5-litre turbo engine and starts at $133k with COE, though there’s also a seven-seat version at $141k. The Honda HR-V is smaller and cheaper at under $100k.
Nissan’s popular Qashqai holds its own in the mid-sized crossover segment thanks to its keen pricing – the Karoq aims squarely at it
There are also larger tech-laden and much more expensive alternatives such as the uber-capable Mazda CX-5 and Volkswagen Tiguan, but these are close to the $200k mark and nearing luxury car territory.
But we see the Karoq’s most direct rival coming from its Spanish corporate cousin Seat in the form of the Ateca, which starts at $113,400 with COE. Like Skoda, the Seat brand has an emphasis on bringing VW Group mainstream car tech at a lower pricetag.
So far, Skoda has done tremendously well stepping into the mainstream segment dominated by East Asian brands.
From left to right: Mr Florian Steiner. Managing Director / CFO Volkswagen Group Singapore
Mr Ricky Tay, Managing Director Volkswagen Group Singapore (VGS)
Ms Simona Hrúzová, Sales Manager Asia, Škoda Auto
Mr Patric Kiesling, Regional Sales Director Asia And Middle East for Skoda Auto
“But more than just the unveiling of a new model, today marks a celebration of success for the Skoda brand in Singapore. In just six months, we have successfully turned the Skoda brand around and won over a significant group of new customers with our top quality and compelling value for money proposition,” said Mr Ricky Tay, the managing director of Volkswagen Group Singapore (VGS), said at the launch of the Karoq.
Under VGS, Skoda has already enjoyed its best year of local sales ever with 174 units sold so far in 2018.
What’s more impressive is that the brand only came back to Singapore officially in March, when it begun sales, while April and May saw no units registered as it awaited further deliveries.
It registered 31 cars in the first half of 2018, but July to September saw 146 units registered, an increase of more than four-fold. That also means in its present guise, Skoda has had its best year ever in Singapore. Under previous dealer Harvest Automobiles the highest registration figure was 105 units in 2010.
The sales figures also reflect the brand’s fortunes as a whole, with Skoda reporting overall record sales of 939,100 units and profits of EUR12.6-billion (Jan to Sept) in 2018.
2018 is coming to a close, but it’s been a wild ride for Skoda in a very good way, and with another product like the Karoq added to the portfolio, it looks like things could even continue to improve before the end of December.