In case you haven’t noticed, the weather has really begun to turn in recent weeks.
I’ve noticed because several times this month I’ve had to scrape ice off the car in the morning. It’s a pain for me but has allowed for a couple of the Karoq’s trademark “simply clever” features to shine.
First off is the little ice scraper tucked into the fuel filler cap. As I’m totally disorganised, I’ve never got round to putting a scraper in the Skoda but thanks to its in-built one I haven’t had to raid the garage at 6am looking for one. What’s more, it has been properly designed so that even though it’s small enough to fit in my palm it makes quick work of clearing the glass.
Skoda Karoq Edition
Price: £28,415 (£29,885 as tested) Engine: 1.5-litre, four-cylinder, turbo, petrol Power: 148bhp Torque: 185lb/ft Transmission: Seven-speed automatic Top speed: 126mph 0-62mph: 8.6 seconds Economy: 50.4mpg (NEDC) CO2 emissions: 127g/km
The second feature is one to file under “why doesn’t everyone do this?” We’re lucky enough to have a heated steering wheel and it comes on automatically when you switch on the heated seats. It’s such a simple thing but every other car I’ve driven has required them to be activated separately. If it’s cold enough to need heated seats it’s cold enough to need a heated steering wheel so the Skoda’s system makes perfect sense. You can, of course, turn it down (there are three settings) or off if you actually want cold hands.
It’s attention to detail like that which makes the difference between a car that’s okay to live with and one that’s great to own.
I’ve also fallen in love again with Skoda’s intuitive media and navigation system. This latest Columbus setup is a lesson to so many other brands on how to get it right. It’s slick, simply laid out, easy to navigate and having buttons that expand as your hand nears the screen makes it even easier to use.
It also has gesture control. I thought this was pointless before experiencing it in the Karoq and I still do. You spend three times as long flapping at the screen as if you had just pressed a button, and you look ludicrous. It’s tech for tech’s sake rather than a useful addition but you can, at least ignore it.
Last month I reported faintly worrying economy of around 30mpg but this has drastically improved since then. I think a change in commuting route, the end of some unavoidable roadworks and a couple of longer easy runs have helped contribute to a far more acceptable 42.5mpg average over the 1,200 miles we’ve covered so far.
The driving has remained pleasingly easygoing, with the exception of the low-speed clunkiness that afflicts the VW Group’s seven-speed DSG. It feels more noticeable in the Karoq than other cars I’ve experienced it in but once you’re beyond second or out of town it reverts to seamless shifting. Strangely, setting everything to sport mode also seems to help.
Although our car doesn’t have the adaptive damping pack, the sport mode gives the throttle, gearbox and steering a more aggressive profile. It makes the Karoq a bit livelier to drive and the handling and body control are on a par with the best in class but it’s still not a car I feel the need to thrash. I’d much rather leave it in auto and potter about smoothly and quietly, complete with my nicely warmed hands.