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Driven: Skoda offers manual Karoq temporarily

Karoq-star: Standard advanced driver-assist systems in the Karoq include low-speed autonomous emergency braking and adaptive cruise control.

Manual on borrowed time as Skoda expects Karoq buyers to be new to Czech brand


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22 Jun 2018

SKODA Australia has officially launched its first Karoq small-cum-mid-size SUV, but the model’s entry-level manual offering ($29,990 before on-road costs) is expected to be pulled from local showrooms after this year.
As previously reported, the Karoq is equipped with a six-speed manual gearbox in its single 110TSI launch variant, while a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission adds an extra $2300.
Speaking to GoAuto this week at the Karoq national media launch in Austinmer, New South Wales, Skoda Australia general manager of corporate communications Paul Pottinger cautioned that buyers in the market for a manual 110TSI should visit a dealership sooner rather than later.
“Manual’s online for now, until it can’t get gotten anymore (from MY19 production in August). It may come back, but I doubt demand will ask for it,” he said.
When questioned why Skoda Australia decided to sell the manual if it will not be available in six months’ time, Mr Pottinger indicated that having a comparable price leader under $30,000 was key to successfully introducing the Karoq.
“It’s legitimate to (offer) it now, because we’re launching a new car and it gives us a price point equal to competitor cars,” he said.
“(The Karoq) absolutely competes with mainstream cars. They have an entry-level manual offering, so it’s legitimate for us to offer it while we can get it.”
Comparatively, the Karoq’s key rival, the best-selling Mazda CX-5, starts from $28,690 in manual, front-wheel-drive Maxx form.
Skoda Australia is still no closer to determining if the forthcoming 140kW, all-wheel-drive variant will be either the 320Nm 140TSI or 400Nm 140TDI when it lands in 2019 alongside the yet-to-be-revealed Sportline grade.
While Mr Pottinger expressed his interest in a potential Karoq RS performance flagship, it could face a similar fate to the recently-confirmed 176kW/500Nm Kodiaq RS, which looks unlikely to be sold in Australia due to the controversial local climate classification from Volkswagen Group.
“We’re always interested in the Karoq RS. The whole hot-weather climate (situation), is a designation which, we as a group, regard an anomalous and are marking representations to change. It’s not a designation we agree with, we consider it illogical,” he said.
Mr Pottinger also suggested that the Karoq will bring more new customers to the Czech brand than its quirky Yeti spiritual successor.
“I think it’s very possible, because this is such a no-compromise car, and it does have a unique selling point,” he said.
“Absolutely anyone that’s looking at the usual suspects should look at this. The inherit superiority of this car should commend it to anybody. (Skoda’s) a mainstream brand now. It’s not a challenger brand, a niche brand.
“So, yes, I think new buyers because only so many people are going to want Sportwagons, which has been the brand’s mainstay in Octavia form – and particularly RS form.”
Motivated by a 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine with cylinder deactivation technology, the 110TSI produces 110kW of power from 5000 to 6000rpm and 250Nm of torque from 1500 to 3500rpm.
As a result, the 1368kg manual 110TSI can sprint from standstill to 100km/h in 8.4 seconds, while the 1353kg DSG version hits triple digits in 8.6s. Top speed is 204km/h and 203km/h respectively.
Claimed fuel consumption on the combined cycle test is 5.7 litres per 100 kilometres for the manual and 5.8L/100km for the DSG, while carbon dioxide emissions have been tested at 131 grams per kilometres and 133g/km respectively.
Standard equipment in the 110TSI includes 17-inch Triton alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, dusk-sensing halogen headlights, LED daytime running lights (DRLs), front foglights, LED tail-lights, LED puddle lights, rain-sensing windshield wipers, silver roof rails and a space-saver spare wheel.
Inside, an 8.0-inch Bolero touchscreen infotainment system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, voice control, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, an eight-speaker sound system, cloth upholstery, VarioFlex removable second-row seats, height-adjustable front seats with lumbar support, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and start, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, LED ambient lighting and two tablet holders feature.
Advanced driver-assist systems extend to adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, low-speed autonomous emergency braking, driver fatigue detection, tyre pressure monitoring, a reversing camera, rear parking sensors and high-beam assist, plus seven airbags.
Three full-time option packages are available – including the Premium Pack ($3600), Tech Pack ($3200) and Travel Pack ($1700) – of which 80 per cent of buyers are expected to opt for. These packages offer about a 40 per cent discount when compared to their individually optioned features.
The Premium Pack consists of adaptive full-LED headlights, black or ivory leather-appointed upholstery, 18-inch Braga alloy wheels, front parking sensors, a power tailgate and stainless-steel pedals.
Meanwhile, the Tech Pack bundles in a hands-free power tailgate, a 9.2-inch Columbus touchscreen infotainment system with gesture control, satellite navigation, a 10-speaker Canton sound system, digital radio, park assist, selectable driving modes and wireless smartphone charging.
The Travel Pack includes lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, a power-adjustable driver seat with memory functionality, heated front seats, puddle lighting and power-folding side mirrors with auto-dimming and memory functionality.
Alternatively, DSG-equipped 110TSIs can be specified with an $8900 Launch Pack, which is limited to 300 units and features all the equipment in the aforementioned option packages – excluding the 10-speaker sound system – plus a three-year/45,000km servicing package.
Individual options extend to a panoramic sunroof ($1900), metallic or pearl-effect paintwork ($700) and 19-inch alloy wheels ($700). A 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster will become available as an individual option from the fourth quarter this year, with production to start from August.
A five-year/unlimited-kilometre factory warranty is standard, while service internals are every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever comes first. As of writing, the servicing cost is $2521 over the first six years of ownership.
Despite its small-SUV-like dimensions (4382mm long, 1841mm wide and 1603mm tall with a 2638mm wheelbase), Skoda Australia has pitched the segment-straddling Karoq against traditional mid-sizers, such as the aforementioned CX-5.
The sub-$40,000 small-SUV segment this year is led by the Mitsubishi ASX (7846 units) to the end of May, with the Mazda CX-3 (6948), Subaru XV (5931), Nissan Qashqai (5015) and Honda HR-V (5003) trailing behind, among others.


2018 Skoda Karoq pricing*

110TSI $29,990
110TSI (a) $32,290

*Excludes on-road costs

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