With Skoda India at the helm, the Volkswagen Group’s new product offensive for the Indian market is SUVs. While Volkswagen India itself is set to launch the new T-Roc compact SUV this year, Skoda is also working on a new concept SUV based on the company’s new MQB-A0 IN platform which is set to be unveiled at the Auto Expo 2020. Having said that, the production version of the new mid-size SUV is still a couple of years away, and in the meantime, the Czech carmaker is planning to launch a couple of new products, including the much-awaited Skoda Karoq, which is set to be launched in India next year.
Now, this is not a new space for Skoda, previously we also had its predecessor, the Skoda Yeti in India, which was truly a strong contender in this segment. However, despite some success in the global market, the Yeti failed to make a strong case for itself in the Indian market, mainly because it was too expensive and back then, Skoda was not really known for strong after sales service. Now, Skoda India’s after sales service has extensively improved with offerings like – 4 years / 100,000 Km warranty and the Skoda Shield Plus that offers 6 years warranty, 6 years road-side assistance and 4 years maintenance package. And these features will certainly add to the value proposition of the upcoming Skoda Karoq.
Skoda recently invited us to its headquarters, in Mlada Boleslav, near Prague, where we got to spend a couple of hours with the SUV, and here are our first impressions.
The Way It Looks!
One look at the Skoda Karoq and you can’t help but notice that the SUV is essentially a downscaled version of its bigger and more popular sibling, the Skoda Kodiaq. It’s only when you place them face-to-face that you notice the difference in size and some of the intricate details that are unique to the Karoq. The Karoq gets a similar face with a signature butterfly grille flanked by a set of rectangular headlamps with Skoda’s signature crystalline design and integrated LED daytime running lamps, along with a pair of trapezoidal foglamps positioned below. Also, the model we got to drive was the Skoda Karoq Sportline trim, which means all the chrome bits from the regular Karoq were replaced by glossy black elements, including the bumper which comes with body-coloured cladding with sharp black fins on either end.
There are other blacked-out elements across the SUV, including the ORVMs, roof-rails, side-skirts, and a set of handsome looking 18-inch Mytikas light alloy wheels, for which of course, which can be replaced with a set of 19-inch ‘Vega’ black polished alloys offered as an option. We also get to see the Sportline badging right where the A-pillar ends. The rear section, on the other hand, takes a much simpler approach in terms of styling with a clean and modest looking tailgate, in fact, it’s only that C-shaped wraparound LED taillamps that truly stand out here. Like the front section, at the rear too the Karoq comes with body-coloured bumpers, with contrast black underbody cladding with an end-to-end chrome insert adding a premium touch.
The Way It Feels
Step inside, and you will be welcomed by a sporty looking all black cabin instead of the dual tone beige and black cabin of the regular Karoq. The first thing you notice is the neat and well-equipped dashboard, which is the model we drove, featured the top-of-the-line 9.2-inch Columbus infotainment system that comes with features like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, gesture control, 64 GB storage, navigation and more. Given the short amount of time we had, we couldn’t test all of it, but a couple of minutes of fidgeting around with it proved that the system is quite intuitive and easy to use. One element unique to this Karoq Sportline trim is the nice and sporty flat-bottomed steering wheel that comes with contrast white stitching, and right behind it was the fully digital instrument cluster.