Skoda Karoq boosts continuing popularity of the SUV
The fashion for SUVs continues unabated and it remains red-hot in all segments of the 4x4/crossover market.
What we are in effect witnessing is the death of the MPV (multi-purpose vehicle, or people carrier).
Some might even say we're also seeing the slow demise of the estate, but that's way too strong an assertion in my book.
However you see it, the rise of the SUV remains relentless. Compact crossovers, baby SUVs, mid-size SUVs, proper off-roaders, luxury 4x4s - you name it, they're selling like hotcakes.
Several new ones have joined the party lately, and just this week Skoda's latest SUV launched in the UK.
It's called the Karoq and it will ease the odd-looking but much-praised Yeti out of the market.
Skoda isn't hiding its light under a bushel with this one, instead boasting that it sets new standards for value, comfort and equipment in its market.
The car uses Volkswagen's modular MQB platform, which is features on the likes of VW Golf, Seat Arona and Audi Q3, so you know it's in good company.
You can order it now, priced from £20,875, but deliveries aren't expected until mid-January.
Like its larger sibling - the seven-seater Kodiaq - the Karoq is a handsome machine.
Its sculpted looks are bang in tune with Skoda's latest design language and will age well.
Every inch a compact SUV, the Karoq measures 4,382 mm in length, is 1,841 mm wide and 1,605 mm high.
The reasonably long wheelbase of 2,638 millimetres (all-wheel version 2,630 mm) gives it an authoritative stance on the road for its size. Not commanding, more kind of assured.
Despite its fairly compact size, it can tow trailers of up to two tonnes. A new trailer assistant function helps when reversing slowly and manoeuvring.
The increase in size over the Yeti benefits passengers, as does the varioflex seating system (standard on all but the entry-level model), which allows owners to adapt the rear of the car.
The varioflex system consists of three separate rear seats that can be individually adjusted or completely removed to create a maximum load volume of 1,810 litres. The boot itself is a good size at 521 litres.
Under the bonnet, there are four engine options, all of them fairly standard Skoda fare.
There are two TSI petrol units with outputs of 115PS and 150 PS, and two TDI diesels also with power outputs of 115PS and 150PS.
All four are available with a seven-speed DSG transmission as an option, with the most powerful diesel model, the 2.0 TDI 150PS, also available with four-wheel drive.
There are five driving modes to choose from, including an off-road option.
Skoda customers will be familiar with the trim levels of SE, SE L and Edition.
Equipment levels are very good, with entry-level SE trim models staring from £20,875.
SE L models cost from £23,165, and the Edition range-topper is priced from £27,110.
Standard features fitted across the range include alloy wheels, privacy glass, LED rear lights, dual-zone climate control, front assist, pedestrian monitor and driver fatigue sensor.
As befits Skoda's latest model, it's full of the latest tech, and the company claims it's one of the safest and most advanced cars in its segment. The car is packed with driver assistance systems like park assist, lane assist and more.
Skoda's designers have also installed blind spot detect, front assist with predictive pedestrian protection and emergency assist for improved occupant and passenger safety.
It's also bristling with the latest occupant infotainment systems that Skoda can offer (housed behind a glass touch screen) and full LED headlights and a digital instrument panel, which is a first for Skoda.
Even though the car isn't yet on our roads, it looks like a hot Karoq vRS SUV is already being lined up.