► Skoda's smallest crossover tested
► One of a bazillion baby SUVs
► Can it stand out at all?
The Skoda Kamiq is possibly one of the most predictable cars out there, but let me explain why that’s not intended as some kind of criticism.
Firstly, the Seat Arona and Volkswagen T-Cross exist, so there was always bound to be a Skoda version coming along at some point. Plus, with larger Karoq and Kodiaq models, Skoda needed something smaller to compete.
Second, there are at least 5,000 other small crossovers/SUVs on the market. Skoda was always going to use something from the MQB A0 stable to lure customers away from the Juke, Captur, 2008, CX-3, Kona, Stonic… shall I go on?
Enthusiasts who love to deride cars for getting to portly will love the Kamiq. It’s smaller than the Karoq, but is actually closer in size to the old Yeti, and that was a medium-sized SUV when it came out.
It’s also very predictable in the sense that you can fully expect it to be a thoroughly rational and sensible purchase among all those other models. So is it worth considering over all of them?
It’s a Skoda, so it must be practical?
Before we even delve inside, it’s worth pointing out that the Kamiq may well look SUV-ish with its roof bars and silvery bits, but its ride height is much closer to a regular hatchback when viewed in real life. Its dimensions aren’t quite as awkward as the Scala’s from some angles, but it does have a taller body that translates to decent space inside.
Thankfully Skoda has remained true to form and the Kamiq offers one of the most spacious cabins of all the compact crossovers. It may not offer that high a driving position, but few really do in this class. On the flipside, sitting lower means that tall body offers ample headroom, while space in the rear is even pretty impressive with a pair of adults in the front.
It is worth noting that the driving position is 40mm higher than in the Scala.
Clever touches like actual bins in the door bins, grippy cupholders, tray tables in the back and a panoramic roof with a cover that slides to the front (freeing up headroom in the back) means the Kamiq is one of the more family-friendly crossovers.
Unsurprisingly the 400-litre boot is on a par with the T-Cross and Arona, with two heights possible for the boot floor and an optional electric tailgate if you’re feeling lazy.
And what’s the rest of the interior like?
Very pleasant; very sensible; very Skoda. It’s nothing exciting but it all just works, and is nicer than the VW and SEAT pair. A Juke is more interesting and the latest Captur may look techier with its huge screen, but the Kamiq subdued and neat. There’s little to complain about.
Well, except that posh models do away with manual buttons for the climate control. The temperature is controlled via a button, the fan isn't. This means using a touchscreen to change the fan speed while moving. Très annoying.
The seats are very comfortable, digital dials are present, a big 9.2-inch media display is optionally available over 6.5 and 8.0-inch versions, as is wireless Apple CarPlay. Skoda’s new connect app even works with Amazon Echo if you truly want Jeff Bezos knowing what time you like your car’s heating coming on in the morning.
The actual interior quality is that of the Skoda Scala, i.e.: fine. Not really a surprise as it’s almost exactly the same interior from the hatch anyway. Wind noise is noticeable, but only because the engines are so quiet.
How does it drive?
This depends on how you spec the car. Three petrols are available – a 1.0 TSI with 93 or 113bhp or a 148bhp 1.5 TSI – and a diesel. You don’t really need the diesel in this car despite its fuel economy claims of well over 50mpg. Desperate for derv? It’s punchy enough, but a lot of gear changing is required if you spec the manual.
Back to the petrols. It’s the 113bhp 1.0 TSI you need to aim for. This is expected to be the bestseller and with good reason. Avoid the 93bhp version as it can feel underpowered before you load it up with passengers, plus it only has five gears.The 113bhp option adds a useful amount of extra oomph to nip around town, and a sixth gear to quieten things down at motorway speeds.
The 148bhp 1.5 TSI feels pretty quick in a car of this size. 62mph flashes up on the digital screens in 8.3 seconds, and in gear acceleration is zesty. It doesn’t half wheelspin though. The intrusive traction control does love to kick in, even when simply exiting a roundabout at a decent lick.
We’ve also tried the optional £495 Sport Chassis Control that sits 15mm lower than standard cars. Switch the driving mode to Sport and the electronically adjustable shock absorbers become stiffer, and the steering becomes heavier. Avoid. Seems a bit of waste on a car like this. The Kamiq’s set-up in regular form is a nice balance between comfort and control in the corners.
When this engine is teamed with the DSG, normal mode is the one to go for. Eco is also pretty good and doesn't dull throttle response enough to become annoying. Sport mode is too sharp. It thinks nothing of dropping you down a few cogs and virtually into the rev limiter.
Objectively, the Kamiq is a very good car. It does exactly what it needs to do to compete with the best in this class. It’s family-friendly with a spacious and cleverly laid-out interior that feels well-built and loaded with a good amount of equipment and useful touches.
There are also no complaints about the way it drives, as it’s easy, refined enough and handles well, while the engine range does the job.
No complaints about the pricing either. PCP monthlies work out at roughly the same amount of money as an Arona, and a bit more than a Captur.
But that’s kind of the issue – it lacks excitement. And while that’s not important to many buyers, cars like the Juke, Kona and Captur all offer a bit more kerb appeal that likely to catch the eye of adventurous types looking to re-enact the pictures they see in the brochures.
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