Skoda has revisited its Karoq mid-sized SUV range with a new-look two-variant line-up that ditches the cheapest entry-level version, but adds in a new higher-performance sports flagship.
With the $29,990 manual 110TSI discontinued for 2020, the most affordable Karoq is now the eight-speed auto 110TSI, which continues on with front-wheel drive and turbo petrol power, but at a slightly increased starting price of $32,990.
The big news, however, is the arrival of a new 140TSI Sportline that joins the Karoq fold bringing 2.0-litre turbo petrol performance, all-wheel-drive grip and a boost to standard equipment levelsfor $39,990.
It’s the first time that all-wheel-drive has featured in the Czech brand’s mid-sized SUV offering and is part of the model’s rebirth following a subdued reception to its Australian introduction in 2018.
With a more premium Karoq line-up bolstered by a growing Skoda portfolio that is leaning evermore into an SUV realm, that soft launch will not be repeated, said Skoda Australia director Michael Irmer.
“As 2020 will be the first year that Skoda Australia will sell more SUVs than passenger cars, it’s fitting that there are now two simply clever Karoqs,” he said.
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Exact Australian timing is yet to be confirmed, but the company’s Kamiq will further add to the SUV assault with a compact offering in the family, nudging the Karoq between itself and the large Kodiaq.
While the general Karoq 110TSI recipe appears identical to the 2018 version, the entry-level version has undergone a significant drivetrain revision.
The previous 1.5-litre four-cylinder has been downsized to 1.4 litres and its seven-speed dual-clutch automatic has switched for an eight-speed torque-converter-type ‘traditional’ automatic.
Power and torque figures of 110kW and 250Nm are unchanged, despite the smaller capacity and more advanced transmission, but the new combination is expected to be more efficient than the previous recipe.
Official fuel economy is rated at 6.6 litres per 100km, which represents an increase over the previous 110TSI, although the latest figure is calculated using new WLTP testing which has been introduced since the first Karoq’s arrival.
Aesthetically the 2020 version is indistinguishable over the 2018 model, apart from new boot badging which displays the Skoda brand across the full width of its hatch.
It’s a different story on the inside where a technology refresh is headlined by the company’s Active Information Display, which dumps the mechanical instrument cluster in favour of a fully digital and customisable screen.
A central information and entertainment console complements the new dash with a Bolero 8.0-inch touchscreen. It offers both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, an eight-speaker sound system and voice controls.
It can be optionally increased to 9.2 inches.
110TSI customers who aren’t satisfied with the standard specification can upgrade to the Travel Pack, Tech Pack or Premium pack, each costing about $4000 depending on the area of enhancement required.
The new flagship 140TSI rolls in dressed up in its Sportline activewear, which brings 19-inch Vega alloy wheels, full-LED headlights, tinted windows and a full body kit featuring body-coloured and black highlights.
Under its bonnet, the 140TSI has a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine that pumps 140kW and 320Nm of torque to all four wheels via its all-wheel-drive system. Unlike the 110TSI, the sportier Karoq has a dual-clutch-type auto with seven speeds.
Skoda has not yet provided performance figures including zero to 100km/h or top speed for either variant. Combined fuel consumption by the WLTP assessment method is rated at 6.9 litres per 100km.
Step inside the 140TSI and you’ll find sports seats all round, upholstered in synthetic suede and leather, highlighted by silver stitching, and there’s a three-spoke sports leather steering wheel with gearshift paddles.
The halo Karoq gets a drive mode selector as standard for switching between choices of economical, sporty and adverse weather conditions, but only the 110TSI gets the clever Varioflex rear seating that can be removed completely, boosting luggage to a hefty 1810 litres.
140TSI maximum boot space is 1605L with its sports rear seats that can only be folded but not removed.
Both variants of the Karoq carry over the clever convenience and practicality features that the company is fast becoming famous for, including a boot light that doubles as a removable LED torch, tablet/phone holders, a reversible boot floor, umbrella hidden under the passenger front seat and numerous other hooks, cubbies and storage options.