Review: Skoda Kamiq (2019)
Spacious and versatile. High level of standard equipment. Easy to drive. Excellent 1.0 TSI engine.
A mid-spec model with a few options will easily exceed £20,000. SEAT Arona is more involving to drive. Rivals offer more boot space.
Skoda Kamiq (2019): At A Glance
Skoda is a major player in the SUV and crossover market, thanks to its ability to build family-friendly cars that are easy to drive, well-equipped, comfortable and supremely practical. Few models demonstrate this process better than the Kamiq. In our view, it's one of the best all-rounder compact crossovers on sale today.
The Skoda Kamiq shares its engines, tech and mechanical platform with the Volkswagen T-Cross and SEAT Arona, but has a slightly longer wheelbase that provides more space for passengers in the rear and a 400-litre boot - the same as the Arona - increasing to 1395 litres once you fold the rear seats.
The Renault Captur and Nissan Juke beat the Kamiq for outright boot space, but the Skoda redeems itself when on refinement and comfort. Wind and road noise levels are well-supressed and the ride quality is generally good - even on 18-inch alloy wheels.
That focus on comfort and refinement does have a negative impact on handling, with the Kamiq's overpowered steering and soft pedals providing vague levels of feedback. Skoda offers an optional sport chassis control system to lower the car by 15mm and add adjustable shock absorbers to sharpen the handling, but this is a car that's clearly designed for drivers who value comfort over performance.
Most buyers will opt for the excellent 1.0 TSI 115PS petrol engine, which officially returns 47.9 - 42.8mpg, while those seeking more power can opt for the 1.5 TSI petrol with 150PS, which appears to be free from the hesitancy issues that have affected other Skoda models. Diesel options are limited to a single 1.6 TDI with 115PS. Most engines get a positive shifting six-speed manual gearbox as standard while a seven-speed DSG is available as an optional extra.
All versions of the Kamiq are generously equipped as standard. This means base models get alloy wheels, LED headlights and touchscreen infotainment. A mid-spec version adds a range of Simply Clever features, which include an umbrella in the driver's door and a removable LED torch in the boot. There's also an optional 10.25-inch Virtual Cockpit in place of conventional dials behind the steering wheel, while ambient lighting in copper, red or white gives the Kamiq's cabin a more upmarket feel.
The only criticism that we can fairly level at the Kamiq is in its styling, which is derivative inside and out. However, while the Kamiq is somewhat anonymous to look at, we think it provides a classy and refined experience that few of its rivals can match.
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Skoda Kamiq (2019): What's It Like Inside?
The Skoda Kamiq is available in three trim levels - S, SE, and SE L - and most buyers will opt for the mid-spec SE, which comes with pretty much everything you could want from a compact crossover.
The high seating position means the driver and passengers are positioned 40mm higher than the Skoda Scala, while the high roofline and wide seats provide plenty of space for four large adults to travel in comfort.
There are lots of useful features in the cabin, including stowage under the front seats and large door pockets. There are two USB sockets in the centre console, but these are of the smaller USB C type, which means they will not fit older smartphones or tablet computers. This problem can be overcome with an inexpensive conversion lead.
Skoda’s latest infotainment system is available in three different screen sizes from 6.5 to 9.2 inches. All of our test cars have featured the largest (and most expensive) system which lifts the cabin significantly. It’s simple to use, although some might find its lack of conventional buttons frustrating, but the in-built navigation is clear and easy to operate. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available, too. There's also an Audi-like digital instrument cluster which is standard on SE L models.
The dashboard and upper parts of the doors are covered in soft touch plastics, but there are some harsh plastics on the lower part of the dash and door trims. There are also a few giveaways that this is a Skoda rather than a Volkswagen (manual handbrake, unlined glove locker etc.), yet the Kamiq’s cabin feels close to premium. In fact, we think it has the edge over the very similar SEAT Arona, if not the Volkswagen T-Cross.
The Kamiq has a 400-litre boot, which is smaller than both the Renault Captur and Nissan Juke. That said, it will easily carry three large suitcases with a load length of 700mm when the seats are up. You also get a useful 1000mm between the rear wheel arches. The rear seats do not fold completely flat, but you do get a 1500mm load length (to the back of the front seats) when you lower the rear seats.
SE trim vehicles get a useful LED torch in the boot (which automatically charges itself in its socket) and a powered tailgate is an optional extra, along with an electronically retractable tow bar and a panoramic sunroof. Max braked towing weights range from 1150kg for the 1.0 TSI petrols and peak at 1250kg for the 1.5 TSI and 1.6 TDI.
Specifications (from November 2019)
S models get 16-inch Castor alloy wheels, LED headlights with LED daytime running lights, rear LED lights, black roof rails, front and rear electric windows, manual parking brake, height adjustable driver’s seat, electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors, ice scraper, hill hold control, lane assist, third back headrest, Speed limiter, Skoda e-Call, tyre pressure monitoring, tyre repair kit, swing radio with 6.5-inch touchscreen display, DAB radio and Bluetooth.
SE adds 17-inch Braga alloy wheels, body coloured bumpers, manual lumbar support for front seats, front centre armrest, reading lights, sun visors with illumination on front passenger side, umbrella in driver's door, drawers under front seats, cruise control, rear parking sensors, light and rain sensors, automatic dimming rear view mirror, 12V socket in boot, removable LED light in boot, radio with 8-inch touchscreen display, wireless Smartlink for Apple carplay (android auto version coming at a later date), Smartlink (includes android auto and mirrorlink).
SE L includes 18-inch Crator alloy wheels, rear LED lights with dynamic indicators, chrome window frame surrounds, chrome roof rails, privacy glass, electrically adjustable, folding and heated door mirrors, keyless engine start/stop, dual zone climate control, glove compartment illuminated and cooled, bind spot detection, Amundsen satellite navigation with 9.2-inch touchscreen display and voice control, virtual cockpit
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What's the Skoda Kamiq (2019) like to drive?
The Skoda Kamiq is available with a choice of 1.0 litre and 1.5 litre petrol engines, as well as a 1.6-litre diesel. All are front-wheel drive (although Skoda claims the best ground clearance in the segment), and buyers can choose from a range of five and six-speed manual gearboxes and the DQ200 seven-speed dry clutch DSG auto.
You can expect 50mpg from the most frugal petrol and mid-50s for the diesel. If the Arona is anything to go by, the official figures will be fairly achievable in the real world. The DSG gearbox will knock fuel consumption by two or three mpg, so opt for the manual if running costs are key.
The 1.0-litre TSI 115PS, combined with a six-speed manual gearbox is a superb little engine. The engine produces 200Nm of torque, which provides a satisfying low-gear zip for tackling hills and navigating around town. It's a little noisy if you work it hard on the motorway, but no more so than any other three-cylinder engine. The 1.0 TSI is also available with 95PS, which is the only engine to get the five-speed manual gearbox.
The 1.5 TSI engine is more refined and packs more of a punch, with 150PS and 250Nn of torque from 1500 - 3500rpm. We have tested the 1.5-litre engine with the six-speed manual gearbox and it shows no signs of the reported hesitancy issues that have affected some Skoda, SEAT and Volkswagen models.
The 1.6 TDI diesel produces 115PS and provides smooth acceleration and very little noise or vibration at start-up or motorway speeds. Like the 1.5 TSI petrol, the 1.6-litre diesel has lots of low-gear pull with 250Nm or torque. It's also the most efficient engine on paper, with advertised fuel economy peaking at 56mpg.
As with many comfort-focused crossovers, the Kamiq is not particularly engaging to drive; the light steering and soft pedals have a dumbing down effect on the majority of the feedback and this makes it difficult to get a real feel for the limits of grip and braking. Car buyers who want more engagement will be better suited to the SEAT Arona FR.
That said, the Kamiq is easy to drive and nimble in town with a 10 metre turning circle and excellent all-round visibility. Mid-spec SE models get all of the essentials, which includes rear parking sensors, cruise control and Isofix mounts for the rear and front passenger seats.
One of the most impressive things about the Kamiq is its refinement. Unlike the SEAT Arona, there is very little wind or road noise making its way into the cabin, while its standard suspension strikes a good balance between firm and wafty. There's an optional sports chassis, as yet undriven.
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Key attributes of the this model are: Comfortable seats, Family friendly, Generous head room, Large boot, Motorway cruiser, Petrol engine, Quiet cabin, Raised driving position, Refined ride, Room for a buggy and Versatile interior.
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