Skoda completes its family of crossovers and SUVs with the arrival of the baby of the trio of new models in the form of the new Kamiq
On the road
On the road
Small SUVs are big news at the moment, with the second generation of the Nissan Juke, Peugeot 2008 and Renault Captur joining the new Ford Puma in a segment that already has the quality of the likes of Seat’s Arona, the VW T-Cross, Vauxhall’s big-selling Crossland X and the CCT100 Compact Crossover Award-winning Citroen C3 Aircross.
On top of those, there are others such as the Mazda CX-3, which means there are plenty of volume-brand options in this relatively new but very rapidly growing area of the marketplace.
However, until now Skoda has been absent, something it has rectified with the arrival of the Kamiq, smaller sibling to the Kodiaq and Karoq in what’s now a crossover and SUV triple bill.
1. The frontal design stays true to that of the concept car and is a nice piece of differentiating styling compared to the more samey larger SUVs.
2. The Lane Keep Assist system is rather too aggressive and you have to go through the dashboard menus to switch it off every journey.
3. There is nothing on the dash to say the auto lights are on, a common VW Group moan. Fine during the day but a pain at dusk or in rain or fog.
The Kamiq takes all that Skoda does well and puts it into a small SUV. There are no extravagant styling details, although the nose gets very slender and neat LED headlights (the first time Skoda has moved the daytime running lights outside the main headlamp cluster) that certainly differentiate the baby crossover from its larger siblings and give it a more aggressive frontal area. The design of the rear falls more in line with those of the firm’s bigger SUVs.
But it’s a car that does the sensible stuff really rather well. There’s plenty of space, as anyone with experience of the brand’s passenger cars, such as the Octavia and Superb in particular, would expect, as well as neat touches such as the ice scraper housed in the filler cap and the umbrella tucked away in the driver’s door on the two higher of the three trim levels. Then there’s the removable LED torch in the boot on SE upwards, and all cars get a funnel built into the lid of the windscreen washer reservoir. The optional keyless entry system includes a security feature in which it stops transmitting if the key hasn’t detected movement for 15 minutes, reactivating immediately when it senses it’s been picked up.
The Kamiq is offered with just the three trim levels and four engine options, although the base trim comes only with the entry engine – the 95hp 1.0-litre that’s available with a six-speed manual gearbox. Step up a trim from S to SE, as most customers will do, and the full line-up of engines, which covers 115hp 1.0 and 150hp 1.5 petrols as well as the 115hp 1.6 diesel, is available, and all bar the 95hp petrol with either manual or DSG automatic gearbox alternatives.
The entry S trim is pretty basic, coming with 16-inch alloys, air-conditioning and front- and lane-assist systems, as well as a 6.5-inch touchscreen. Go up to the SE and the alloy wheels are an inch larger and the screen 1.5 inches wider, while the £1435 increase in price also brings Apple CarPlay (with Android Auto to follow), cruise control, rear parking sensors and auto lights and wipers, so all the company car driver essentials. The further £2045 step to SE L, as tested here, adds plenty more niceties such as a further increase in wheel and screen size to 18 inches and 9.2 inches respectively, as well as sat-nav, dual climate control, the neat virtual cockpit dashboard display and folding mirrors. It’s all filed under the ‘want’ category rather than ‘need’, but there’s nothing extravagant there. Optional extras are well-priced and there are plenty of them, including front parking sensors for £360, keyless entry for £215 or £460 depending on trim, and £150 for a spacesaver spare.
Inside, the Skoda impresses for its quality, with plenty of nice touches across the cabin including a broad silver swathe that lifts the interior above the darker gloom of some rivals. There’s plenty of space up front, and rear entry is eased by the width and angle that the doors open to. There’s also plenty of room for fully grown passengers once they’re in there, with Skoda claiming best-in-class rear head, elbow and knee provision. Cabin stowage space is reasonable rather than generous, and Skoda insists on installing smaller USB-C sockets rather than ones that a USB charger will slot straight into. The front seats could also be a little softer and more cosseting.
The infotainment system looks good, especially on the larger screen of the top-spec car, although it isn’t always the fastest to react, and is frustratingly slow to boot up when you start the car. Ours also kept randomly dropping CarPlay. The other criticism is that many users would prefer a volume knob to the touch buttons on the infotainment display, although the steering wheel also features a volume scroll, which is a great deal easier to use.
Boot space is useful, although not vastly ahead of the class rivals in the way that the Superb and Octavia models manage. But it’s in line with the better space offered by the competition, and a useful shape.
On the road, the Kamiq is impressively neutral, riding well enough without being either too harsh and sporty or soft and wallowy. It’s a balance that suits the higher driving position and family-orientated positioning of the car.
The 115hp 1.0-litre engine is recognisable from across the VW Group, and that’s no bad thing because it’s an excellent unit that offers decent performance and good emissions, although others can manage lower outputs than the 115g/km of our test car. These figures were reported under the outgoing NEDC-correlated criteria are about to be replaced by WLTP numbers that will in all probability increase the figures. Like most manufacturers, Skoda is yet to make them public. Still, the engine is plenty perky enough and a good match for the car, especially factoring in that the 95hp version maybe not quite powerful enough and the 150hp petrol a veritable extravagance by comparison when the 115hp petrol is as good as it is. And the numbers simply don’t stack up on the 115hp diesel unless you cover mega miles because there’s no clear CO2 advantage, and the BiK taxation will be more thanks to the higher P11d price.
The landscape is changing rapidly for this compact crossover sector of the market, with the new models from Ford, Nissan, Peugeot and Renault all launching in the coming weeks, an rapid pace of change that could reshape the market. But Skoda is ahead of that burst of activity with a new model that very securely plays to its strengths of practicality, excellent residual values and decent running costs. It’s neither the cheapest nor most head-turning baby crossover on the market by any means, and the high SMR costs are unhelpful to the overall total cost of ownership, but in terms of an all-round good value car that doesn’t have any real weaknesses or things to dissuade potential owners, the Kamiq does a very good job indeed of extending Skoda’s reach into this burgeoning segment of the market.
The Kamiq is Skoda’s third SUV or crossover model in three years, completing the revolution of the Skoda range to compete in all the major new growth segments of the market.
It started at the top with the big seven-seat Kodiaq, which arrived in the UK in late 2016, before being joined less than 18 months later by the mid-sized Karoq.
Now the baby has been added in the form of the Kamiq, a name with a heritage in the Inuit people of northern Canada and Greenland, according to Skoda. It’s supposed to mean something that fits perfectly into every situation, like a second skin, and it’s also a badge that continues the naming convention of starting with a K and ending in a Q.
Skoda declares that its new model follows on from other models in the Czech brand’s line-up in offering class-leading interior space.
As is the case with most Skoda models, the Kamiq is closely related to a concept car that previewed its arrival, in this case the Vision X (pictured) revealed at the 2018 Geneva motor show, 12 months before the production version was unveiled to the world at the same event to complete Skoda’s SUV portfolio.
What they said
What They Said
“The Kamiq brings style, innovation and value to a growing area of the car market. The three trim levels are generously equipped with all versions featuring touchscreen infotainment systems, air-conditioning, alloy wheels and a raft of safety systems."
“An in-built LTE eSIM enables the SUV to always be online and connectivity features include Skoda’s Digital Assistant, Laura, who is on-hand to respond to voice commands."
“Rear headroom, elbow room and kneeroom are all best-in-class figures, while the boot has a capacity of 400 litres.”
Henry Williams, Head of fleet, Skoda UK
Need to know
Three things we like...
There’s a nice padded material area where your right elbow lands
Wide rear door openings make for easy entry and exit
Regular Skoda neat touches include the ice scraper fitted inside the filler flap
...And one we don't
Fitting USB-C ports rather than regular USBs may have tech reasoning but is irritating
It’s a sensibly anonymous sort of driving experience. The Kamiq just does everything in a neutrally comfortable sort of way.
Other small crossover rivals can offer lower emissions figures, although there are only a few grammes/miles per gallon between most of them.
Boot space is about in line with rivals’, and there’s plenty of space for all passengers. Typically Skoda clever touches feature throughout.
Kit is reasonable rather than generous, although optional extras are priced competitively. Only the top-spec SE L gets nav, and front parking sensors are optional on all.
The slender LED headlights give the nose a more distinctive look than Skoda’s larger SUV pairing.
Comfort and refinement 8/10
No complaints on either score, with the ride comfortable and the peppy 1.0-litre engine drama free.
Some nice touches of quality and innovation in the cabin, including intelligent use of materials to make it feel of a higher quality.
Not the fastest touchscreen system to boot up and it’s also sometimes slow to react. There are different-sized screens for each different trim level.
Whole life costs 8/10
Excellent residual values balance out the higher price, and SMR costs are also surprisingly high.
CCT opinion 9/10
Exactly what you’d expect from a small crossover Skoda - plenty of space in a sensible, clever and well-thought-out car. But not exciting.
A new entry in to the increasingly crowded small crossover market that does a lot of things well but doesn’t have a big flagship USP to grab the attention.