2020 Skoda Kamiq review – small SUV makes a big statement

2020 Skoda Kamiq review – small SUV makes a big statement
2020 Skoda Kamiq review – small SUV makes a big statement

Good things come in threes and, for the third year on the bounce, Skoda has released a new SUV model – the third and smallest in the line-up, the Kamiq.

Joining the larger Kodiaq and Karoq, the Kamiq is Skoda’s first car in the small SUV segment – the fastest growing new car segment in the UK.

That said, it’s not that small. At 4.2 metres long it’s the same length as the old Skoda Yeti, a car analogous to the Kamiq’s big brother the Karoq in terms of class and size. It’s also larger than competitors such as the Vauxhall Crossland X and Renault Captur as well as classmates within the VW Group stable the Seat Arona and VW T-Roc.

Could the Kamiq be a small SUV that’s a practical option for family buyers?

Overview and Vital statistics

2020 Skoda Kamiq
(Photo: Skoda)

The generous length of the Kamiq actually does translate to practical space and isn’t swallowed up by an overly long nose or an impractically shaped rear-end. The 400-litre boot morphs into a best-in-class load bay with capacity rising to 1,395 litres with the rear seats down.

Space for driver and front passenger feels ample and a high roofline at the back means your three rear passengers can be of the fully-grown variety, as you aren’t limited by one of the increasingly popular ‘coupe-style’ sloping profiles.

Trim levels follow the familiar Skoda pattern of S, SE and SE L, with each step up the hierarchy adding a slightly larger touchscreen, more comfort, convenience and safety tech and a handful of extra bells and whistles. 2020 will add a sporty-looking Monte Carlo spec car to the range as well.

Skoda Kamiq SE

Price  £19,935 (£24,460, as tested)
Engine:  1.0-litre, three-cylinder, turbo, petrol
Power:  114bhp
Torque:  148lb/ft
Transmission:  Six-speed manual
Top speed 120mph
0-62mph:  9.9 seconds
Combined fuel consumption 42.8-47.9mpg
CO2 emissions 116g/km

Skoda expects the mid-range SE model to be the top seller, paired with the 114bhp 1.0-litre TSI petrol engine. Other engines in the range include a de-tuned 1.0-litre TSI putting out 94bhp and a 114bhp, 1.6-litre diesel.

The most powerful powerplant in the range is the four-cylinder 1.5-litre petrol with an output of 148bhp. Cars with 114bhp or more can be optioned with a DSG automatic gearbox or a six-speed manual, while the 94bhp engine is partnered with a five-speed manual transmission.

Driving the Skoda Kamiq

2020 Skoda Kamiq
(Photo: Skoda)

I drove cars powered by both variants of the 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine. The 94bhp option actually felt pretty good overall on a mixed drive but it began to fall short in the guts department when I took it onto the A1 and tackled some of the steeper gradient B-roads on the meandering press office-planned route from Edinburgh to Northumberland.

If you predominantly drive in the city this engine would be fine and, in fact, felt quite sprightly away from the lights.

I spent more time at the wheel of the 114bhp car and was thankful for the extra horses on a seven-day test that included far more of the motorway driving that makes up the bulk of my daily commute. With a 9.9-second nought to 60 time, it’s no vRS model, but the extra power felt a good fit for the car and ought to be enough for most drivers.

Both iterations of the engine felt refined, smooth and quiet – something it’s unlikely anyone would have said a decade ago about a 1.0-litre engine powering anything north of a tonne in weight.

The steering felt well-weighted and the ride was comfortable on the 17-inch alloy wheels fitted as standard to SE specification cars.

Interior and technology

2020 Skoda Kamiq interior
Material quality is generally pretty good (Photo: Skoda)

I drove cars kitted out to both SE and SE-L specification and a glance at the spec sheet tells me that means one should have had an eight-inch touch screen display, and the other a 9.2-inch display and Amundsen sat nav.

The lower specification SE model had sat nav fitted as an option, however, and a check with my measuring tape confirmed that £1,230 upgrade ads the extra 1.2 inches in addition to the navigation software.

Aside from that, SE-L adds 17 trim upgrades from larger wheels to suede upholstery – but the only ones I noticed in any meaningful way during the test was the addition of keyless start/entry and the addition of a rear parking camera on top of the sensors standard with SE.

2020 Skoda Kamiq rear seats
Rear space is decent for the class, with good headroom for adult passengers (Photo: Skoda)

Materials in the Kamiq are of generally high quality, with the exception of some scratchy black plastic around the door handles and around the lower half of the dashboard – the purpose of which is likely to put space between the Kamiq and offerings from the more premium marques in the VW Group portfolio.

Because beyond that, you’d be hard pressed to articulate exactly what it is you get if you buy a Volkswagen over a Skoda, the engines and technology are the same and the cars share the same scaleable architecture.

It’s a long time since Skoda was a budget brand in either build or price.

Clever touches and Skoda Quirk

If you opt for a Skoda Kamiq you’ll get lots of clever and practical little extras. There’s an umbrella built into a holder in the side of the drivers’ side door.

From SE trim upward you get a removable torch built into the boot, an ice scraper and tyre tread depth gauge in the fuel cap as well as an integrated funnel in the lid of the screen washer tank to prevent spillage.

2020 Skoda Kamiq boot
Boot space is a useful 400 litres (Photo: Skoda)

You can add retractable door edge protection to prevent scrapes in the car park as well as an electric tailgate and electrically retractable tow bar. Skoda says the latter two are firsts in the small SUV segment.

Verdict

It might have been a long time since Skoda was considered a budget manufacturer, but starting at just shy of £17,560 the Kamiq is a pretty compelling package. The price can shoot up with options but it’s good looking and well equipped across the range.

For a small SUV, the driving dynamics are good, if a little forgettable, but the trump card is the relative spaciousness for the class that boosts the Kamiq’s practicality.

2020 Skoda Kamiq
The Skoda Kamiq is a compelling entry in the small SUV segment (Photo: Skoda)

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