Published: 09:35, 17 March 2020
| Updated: 09:35, 17 March 2020
Will the day arrive when we are all driving SUVs? Certainly they are fast becoming the family transport of choice, replacing the saloons and estates that used to parked on driveways across the country, so it surely isn’t so far out of the question.
Even traditional sports car makers have been getting in on the act: Porsche with the Cayenne and Macan, Lamborghini with the Urus and soon Ferrari with their as-yet-unnamed SUV.
And that thought brings me nicely onto the subject of this week’s review, the Skoda Kamiq, which is the latest addition to the Czech firm’s family.
It rides on the same platform as its VW Group stablemates the Seat Arona and Volkswagen T-Cross but ‘Skoda-rised’. What that means is it wears its own, unique, set of clothes, rides and handles in a uniquely Skoda way and is big, at least by compact SUV standards.
The front end marks a departure in design from other cars in the Czech firm’s range with LED daytime running lights sitting horizontally at the top edges of the grille, separated from the main headlamp assembly.
There are some thoughtful touches, too, such as the umbrella stowed in the driver’s door, an ice scraper behind the fuel filler flap and a removable, rechargeable LED torch that’s stored in the boot.
One of the most impressive things about the Kamiq is the quality of the interior. Most of its rivals at this price point are cursed with hard and unyielding places that you regularly come into contact with on a daily basis but in the Skoda you’ll encounter lots of squashy, pleasantly tactile materials.
Given that the Kamiq starts off at just below £18,000 it’s hard to argue that, sitting in the passenger space, you’re not getting value for money.
The driving position is very good. There is plenty of flexibility in seat position – lumbar support is standard on all but entry-level S trim – and decent lateral and under-thigh support to keep you comfortable in corners and over long distances. The steering wheel can be adjusted for reach and rake to help with the fine tuning.
What you will notice from behind the wheel is that, well, you’re not sitting as high as you might expect in an SUV. The Kamiq, in fact, isn’t much higher off the ground than a regular hatchback so if driving something that offers a commanding view of the road is a priority, you’ll have to cross the Kamiq off your shopping list.
The Kamiq might not offer the high seating position that you get in most SUVs but visibility remains excellent all around. The A-pillars are thin and the large glass area reduces the impact and size of blind spots. The side windows are a good size too, meaning passengers can enjoy a good view of the world as it passes by.
Rear parking sensors are standard on SE trim and front sensors or a rear-view camera are available as an option on all versions. Ultra-bright LED dipped-beam headlights are standard on every version and you can upgrade to LED main beams.
SE trim cars like the one reviewed here are fitted with eight-inch infotainment touchscreens. Entry level S trim models get 6.5in screens while range-topping SE L or Monte Carlo trims get 9.2in displays.
The graphics are bright and sharp and the system is easy enough to use with large, bold icons but it can be a little lethargic at times. There are some separate controls for the air con, so it’s easy enough to adjust the temperature on the fly, but you need to use the touchscreen for some functions, such as changing the direction of the air flow. It’s a convoluted process that is considerably more fiddly that just having physical controls, or touch.
Smartphone mirroring is included on the eight-inch system and above, but only the 9.2in display gets built-in sat-nav and Skoda’s own take on an AI personal assistant called Laura. Bluetooth handsfree calling and audio streaming as well as DAB radio are standard across the range.
There are, unusually, two USB-C-type ports in the front. There is an adapter to allow you to use your old USB-A cables if needed.
The Kamiq makes a mockery of the term ‘compact’ when it comes to the subject of passenger space. If you’re riding up front there is a generous amount of head and legroom. It gets even better – for a change – if you’re sitting in the back. Although the Kamiq uses the same chassis as both the Seat Arona and VW T-Cross the wheelbase has been stretched by
That means that there is lots – and lots – of rear legroom. The Kamiq will comfortably – and we’re talking room to spare – accommodate a pair of six foot-plus passengers riding in tandem. They won’t be lacking for headroom either, thanks to the car’s boxy profile.
There’s 26-litres of storage space dotted around the cabin, a figure that is far higher than that offered by most of the Kamiq’s rivals. If you tick the ‘Simply Clever Pack’ on the options list you’ll even get small drawers under each seat and plastic door protectors that pop out when you open the doors. The boot will hold 400 litres of luggage with the rear seats in place, or 1,395 with them stowed flat.
There’s a choice of petrol engines – either 1.0-litre or 1.5 capacities – offering either 94, 113 or 148bhp or, if you prefer diesel, you can have the 1.6TDI powering the car reviewed here. With 113bhp on tap progress is probably best described as steady.
Straight-line pace is reasonable and, being a diesel, there’s greater flexibility than you would find with a petrol engine beneath the bonnet. You won’t be sacrificing much in the way of refinement either because the diesel engine only makes itself heard if you’re revving it hard.
There is a bit of wind noise at motorway speeds and a fair degree of road noise too, but nothing so loud that you’ll have to raise your voice to make yourself heard.
The ride is among the best in its class. It smooths out potholes and ridges around town with ease and displays impeccable manners on motorways. Despite its compliant suspension set-up it is reasonably composed over undulating roads too.
One advantage of a slightly lower profile compared to most of its rivals is, of course, a lower centre of gravity. As a result it doesn’t the body doesn’t roll uncomfortably in corners and it can feel quite fleet of wheel.
Kamiq comes from the Inuit language of the people of Canada and Greenland and translates to ‘something that fits perfectly’ and, according to Skoda, was chosen because their small SUV is a perfect fit for the city
I can’t help but feel a touch of irony when I read that claim but, to give the Kamiq its due, it does have a tighter turning circle than most of its rivals with light, accurate steering that helps make manoeuvring through narrow streets and tight spaces a doddle.
Skoda do like to do things a little differently and the Kamiq is no exception. It sports a lower profile than most other SUVs in its class and, for a compact SUV is relatively large. That, of course, means that it is spacious inside with lots of room for both passengers and luggage. It doesn’t have sliding or reclining rear seats but given the amount of space on offer it can probably make do without.
The standard equipment list isn’t especially impressive but the cabin is attractively finished and very well put together. It also offers a very comfortable ride and is very easy to drive.
It’s hard, in fact, to see a reason why the Kamiq shouldn’t find its way onto your shopping list.
Skoda Kamiq SE 1.6TDI 115PS DSG
As tested: £27,290
Engine: 1.6-litre turbocharged diesel
Transmission: 7-speed DSG automatic
Max power: 115PS
Max speed: 119mph
Emissions (CO2): 112g/km
For more information visit www.skoda.co.uk