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21 Aug, 2019 8:00pm Richard Ingram
The Skoda Kamiq has some talented rivals to beat, but the new supermini-sized SUV could be the pick of the bunch
Three new SUVs in a little over three years: Skoda’s recent push into the crossover market is bang on trend with where the new car market is heading, and following the debut of the Kodiaq in 2016 and the Karoq 12 months later, 2019 sees Skoda line-up yet another newcomer in this growing segment.
It’s the arrival of the brand’s smallest and possibly most important SUV model: the Kamiq. Pronounced ‘Ka-mick’, this is a rival for the Renault Captur, Volkswagen T-Cross, and the soon-to-be-replaced Nissan Juke, competing in the small, supermini-sized SUV market.
Instantly recognisable as the third of Skoda’s SUVs, the Kamiq inherits its siblings’ split headlights, clamshell bonnet and V-shaped grille. Based on the familiar MQB A0 platform underpinning the Volkswagen Polo, Skoda insists it offers all the flexibility and ‘Simply Clever’ features we’ve come to expect, in a smaller and more manageable package.
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On the whole, it feels well built; the cabin is a mix of soft, squashy rubber and slightly cheaper hard plastics on the face of the dash. Most of the touch points are covered in tactile leather, while all the buttons and switches are solid and easy to use.
Skoda is looking to overtake its SEAT sibling as one of the VW Group’s most technological brands, and a quick glance at the Kamiq’s interior would suggest it’s edging ever closer to stealing that accolade. Our car had the optional 9.2-inch touchscreen, as well as wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – something none of the Kamiq’s competitors can offer yet. The infotainment is typically functional, sharp and simple to navigate, though frustratingly, there’s no rotary dial to control the volume.
Exact specs haven’t been confirmed, but the Virtual Cockpit dials are likely to be extra, too. It isn’t as clear or sharp as the equivalent Audi set-up, but it adds a touch of class missing in many of the Kamiq’s rivals. We’d suggest they’re a ‘nice to have’ rather than an essential bit of kit, though.
There will be three engines at launch; a pair of 1.0-litre petrols (94bhp or 113bhp) and a 1.6-litre TDI diesel. The more powerful 148bhp 1.5 TSI hasn’t been homologated yet, but it’ll join the range before the end of 2019.
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On the road, the Kamiq felt safe and solid no matter what we threw at it. We were driving the more powerful 113bhp 1.0-litre, which Skoda expects to be its biggest seller. It accelerates cleanly, and while the control weights – the pedals and gearbox especially – are light, they’re perfectly accurate. Few buyers will feel short changed in this area, regardless.
Up at motorway cruising speed, the Kamiq’s engine is all but silent. There’s little to no tyre roar, but the A-pillars and door mirrors do generate quite a bit of wind noise, which proves the only interruption in an otherwise refined drive.
Despite it’s jacked-up styling and raised body (the Kamiq is 60mm taller than the Scala hatch), Skoda’s newest SUV handles neatly in the corners. It’s a lovely car to drive, in fact, offering what could prove to be the best compromise of ride and handling of any car in this class; grip is good and body control is well contained. We’ll find out if it can pinch dynamic honours from the SEAT Arona when we put it against its rivals in the UK in the coming months.
So, the Kamiq ticks the driving and technology boxes, but what about practicality? Skoda prides itself on the ‘Simply Clever’ touches that make all its cars unique, and rest assured, the Kamiq is littered with bits and bobs designed to make this SUV incredibly easy to live With.
There’s the usual ice scraper in the fuel filler cap, and an umbrella in the driver’s door. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find an LED torch in the boot, a funnel for the washer fluid, and slick, but optional pop-out door-edge protectors. That’s something Ford has been doing for years, yet it’s a trick that never fails to impress.
But fun features aside, the Kamiq’s outright space and practicality can shame in the class above. The 400-litre boot (1,395 litres with the rear seats folded flat) is pretty much par for the course, but rear seat accommodation leaves its rivals trailing. There is ample head and leg room for six-foot adults, even with the front seat set to fit a similarly-sized driver. It certainly feels bigger inside than its compact dimensions would suggest.
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Skoda hasn’t revealed official pricing, specs or fuel economy data for any Kamiq model just yet. However, initial signs point towards a £17,500 starting price (Kamiq S 1.0 TSI 95PS), or £19,750 for the well-equipped SE in punchier 1.0 115PS trim. Residual values should be strong, which will likely result in favourable PCP rates, too.
The trim structure will largely mirror the new Scala’s format, offering a choice of S, SE and SE L. Entry-level cars should bring 16-inch wheels, LED lights, the smallest 6.5-inch infotainment screen, DAB radio and manual air conditioning. Continuing to use the Scala as a guide, SE would add a larger eight-inch display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, parking sensors, cruise control and an eight-speaker stereo. SE L sits atop the range, with 17-inch wheels, privacy glass, keyless entry, dual-zone climate control and a 9.2-inch sat-nav with complimentary Virtual Cockpit dials.
This engine is a known quantity, as well, as it’s used throughout the VW Group range on a wide variety of vehicles. Expect around 50- 55mpg and CO2 emissions of 112g/km depending on spec and wheel size.
4.5 The new Skoda Kamiq is predictably brilliant. It pulls together all that we love about VW’s tried and tested MQB platform, with a stylish, spacious, and cleverly designed body. While exact specs, prices and all-important PCP deals could make or break the SUV’s chance of success, there’s a very real chance this Kamiq will shoot straight to the top of the class when we test it in the UK in the coming months.
- Model: Skoda Kamiq SE 1.0 TSI 115
- Price: £19,750 (est)
- Engine: 1.0-litre 3cyl turbo petrol
- Power/torque: 113bhp/200Nm
- Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
- 0-62mph: 9.9 seconds
- Top speed: 121mph
- Economy/CO2: 55mpg (est)/112g/km (est)
- On sale: Late September