Carsales KAMIQ 2020 Review
Skoda’s all-new small SUV is here, teeming with equipment and boasting competitive drive-away pricing. But can the new model stand out in the increasingly busy segment?
Plenty to like
The all-new Skoda Kamiq has arrived Down Under, book-ending the Czech brand’s SUV range at the entry level and bringing with it a host of standard equipment and pricing that starts from $26,990 plus on-road costs – or just $27,990 drive-away. Arriving initially in base 85TSI guise, more powerful 110TSI variants are set to go on sale next month, with even more gear.
Here, we’re testing the Kamiq 85TSI with a DSG transmission. Priced at $27,990 plus ORCs (or $29,990 drive-away), it comes with plenty of safety and driver assistance features, as well as some quirky inclusions and an eye-catching exterior.
At the pointy end
The Skoda Kamiq range is priced from $26,990 plus on-road costs in entry-level 85TSI trim with a six-speed manual transmission. We’re testing the same model grade, but with a seven-speed DSG auto that bumps up the on-roads price another $1000.
With Skoda’s current drive-away pricing, the Kamiq 85TSI, fitted with a 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine, costs $27,990 drive-away as a manual or $29,990 drive-away with the dual-clutch auto transmission.
Kamiq 110TSI variants are due to hit showrooms in November with a larger 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbo paired only to a DSG. This will land in Monte Carlo trim priced from $34,190 plus ORCs ($36,990 drive-away) and as a fully-loaded Limited Edition launch special set at $35,490 ($36,990 drive-away).
The Czech brand’s new model is also its smallest SUV, sitting below the mid-size Skoda Karoq and joining an already overflowing list of small SUVs in the market including the Mazda CX-30, Toyota C-HR, Subaru XV, Nissan Qashqai, Mitsubishi ASX, Hyundai Kona, Kia Seltos, Honda HR-V and, not least of all, the car it’s based off: the Volkswagen T-Cross.
The Skoda Kamiq is priced towards the pointier end of the segment, but offers up enough standard equipment to justify its price tag.
As with all Skoda models, the Kamiq is covered by a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, while servicing can be taken care of with one of Skoda’s optional service packs, costing $800 for the first three years or $1400 over five years.
Packing it in
One of the Skoda Kamiq’s major talking points is its generous list of standard equipment.
Even in the entry-grade 85TSI, standard gear includes autonomous emergency braking (AEB), adaptive cruise control, lane assist, tyre pressure monitoring, reversing camera, driver fatigue detection and seven airbags (including driver’s knee airbag).
Keyless entry, push-button start, roof rails, an electric tailgate, tinted windows and 18-inch alloy wheels (plus a full-size spare tyre) are standard too, while in classic, quirky Skoda style, an umbrella is built into the driver’s door and the boot light doubles as a removable LED torch.
Inside the cabin is a clear and responsive 8.0-inch touch-screen equipped with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Bluetooth connectivity, an eight-speaker sound system, wireless phone charging and a huge digital instrument cluster (aka Virtual Cockpit) that displays all the vehicle information you could want – and more.
Annoyingly, there are no USB ports inside the cabin – only USB-C ports.
A Driver Support Package ($4100) can be optioned on the 85TSI, bringing an electric driver’s seat, leather-appointed seats, heated seats all round, blind spot monitoring, park assist and rear cross traffic alert.
Meanwhile, a Tech Pack ($3800) is also available to upgrade the infotainment to a larger 9.2-inch Amundsen unit with navigation, as well as adding LED headlights, front animated indicators, wireless Apple CarPlay, voice control and a better audio system.
The Skoda Kamiq has just been awarded a maximum five-star safety rating by ANCAP, echoing the five-star Euro NCAP score it achieved in Europe last year.
Storage around the cabin is good, with large door pockets up front (which can fit 1.5-litre bottles), a small centre console, average-sized glovebox and a sunglasses tray in the roof.
Planting the foot
There are two powertrain options in Skoda Kamiq SUV range at launch. The 85TSI variants are powered by a tiny 85kW/200Nm 1.0-litre turbo-triple mated to either a six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG auto, while the 110TSI coming soon use a more powerful 110kW/250Nm 1.5-litre turbo-four paired exclusively to a DSG auto.
Both engine variants are front-wheel drive.
While the little three-pot powertrain doesn’t look overly impressive on paper, it feels really well matched to the Kamiq, with enough poke to get you going around town. Plant your foot off the line and you’ll even get a bit of torque-steer as it rushes to the 2000rpm torque peak.
It’s light, nimble and zippy to drive with just two passengers on board, but load it up with more people and luggage and it obviously loses a bit of the pep in its step.
Skoda claims a combined-cycle fuel consumption rating of 5.1L/100km, although our test car’s average read 8.5L/100km after suburban and highway driving. Perhaps a reflection of the youngster behind the wheel, perhaps not.
There’s a bit of turbo lag during take-off, a trait we’ve noticed before in Volkswagen Group powertrains, but the three-pot engine thrums along nicely once you’re on the move.
On highways, the Kamiq cruises along at 110km/h with ease, while main roads (80km/h) are just as smooth. However, if you’re not paying attention, it’ll gain momentum and coast over the speed limit without you noticing.
The pedals feel well positioned – not too upright like other SUVs – and there’s a good, sharp feel to the brake pedal.
Perhaps surprisingly, the parking brake remains a traditional manual handbrake – no electric parking brake here.
On the road, the Skoda Kamiq feels stable and sure-footed. The cabin is well-insulated, making for a relatively quiet ride.
Apart from a bit of turbo whine under hard acceleration, engine and tyre noise is minimal.
The Kamiq rides over bumps and uneven roads with confidence, never feeling unsettled, even on pothole-ridden country roads.
It’s not the sportiest small SUV out there, with steering that can feel a little lazy and indirect.
The engine is a little slow to return to life with the fuel-saving automatic engine idle-stop feature on – it can be switched off with the press of a button on the centre console – and the lane assist can be overly sensitive. That, too, can be turned off via a few buttons on the steering wheel.
Finding a comfortable seating position should be easy for most people, with a steering wheel that is adjustable for both height and reach, and seats that have loads of manual adjustment options.
You can plonk them low to the floor, if that’s your thing, or nice and high up to give you a better view ahead. Still, vision is great all round.
Vehicle controls are placed well within reach in a neat and intuitive fashion – that is, until you get to adjusting the dual-zone climate control.
There are buttons and dials for temperature and recirculation, however you have the click a ‘menu’ button within the climate control dials to access fan speed, which then pops up on the central touch-screen. It’s all a bit too fiddly while you’re driving.
There’s enough space in the back seat for two adults, however three passengers would be a squeeze unless they’re small adults or kids. Plenty of headroom, legroom and foot space underneath the front seats means longer drives shouldn’t be a problem.
Rear seat passengers are treated to generous bottle-sized pockets in either door, as well as two air vents, map pockets and two USB-C outlets.
Three ISOFIX child seat anchorage points are also located in the rear seats, however you’d probably only fit two child seats in the second row.
The Kamiq also wins points for practicality. The boot holds 400 litres of luggage (or 1395 litres with the 60/40-split folding rear seats placed down), while an array of hooks and luggage nets are planted around the boot to hold your things in place.
Worth a closer look
Comfortable, quirky and full of safety and technology, the Skoda Kamiq deserves a place on the shortlist in a segment where there are many models to consider.
It’s not the sportiest, and most would probably argue it’s not the sexiest small SUV. But it’s a head-turner, comes with loads of features, and it’ll get you from A to B with little fuss.
If you’re in the market for a small SUV that’s a little bit saucier than most, the Skoda Kamiq is definitely worth a look.