The ŠKODA KAROQ is quite a newcomer to the SUV car family, only arriving on the market in 2017. Today, however, we can even have this brilliant machine with SCOUT refinement. That means all-wheel-drive, off-road assistance and plenty of design upgrades. So just how helpful is this emerald off-road knight to the keen cyclist heading for a ride out of town?
There’s one point we should make clear right at the beginning, even though our protagonists, Lukas and Pavlina, are professional athletes, there’s no difference between the needs of professional and amateur cyclists when it comes to the perfect car and its features. No matter your cycling skill level, you’ll always need a reliable vehicle to get you and your companions to your destination safely. Regardless of the quality of your bikes, you’ll need to be able to transport them securely on the roof or bike rack. There should also be enough room in the trunk to accommodate your cycling gear, a toolbox and the outdoor equipment you might need to spend the night outside. Many of the older off-road cars might meet a lot of these demands, however, these days you can have much higher expectations.
Your car should run smoothly, economically and be environment-friendly, while giving you a comfortable and safe ride. The handling and control of the vehicle should be easy, intuitive and predictable. Not to mention that, with the world considerably more connected, even your car is now expected to provide you with permanent online service. Well, how does the new ŠKODA KAROQ SCOUT meet these requirements?
The KAROQ SCOUT possesses some design details that are not present in the standard edition. These include a front bumper with integrated spoiler and silver skid plate, a rear bumper with integrated silver diffuser, and 18” wheel arch mouldings that give the car a distinct design and more robust look. Inside, the cabin has new upholstering with a unique black-and-brown pattern on the seats featuring the SCOUT logo. There’s also plenty of beautifully executed stitching, various LED indoor lights and decorative details, and stainless-steel pedal covers. There’s no question that this is the most appealing KAROQ to date.
The ŠKODA car company is proud of their infotainment systems and the KAROQ offers the best one available. What we especially like about this SCOUT is the optional virtual cockpit that allows the driver to combine onboard data with other useful information like navigation or music. All is perfectly delivered on the massive display, so it is at your disposal any time during the drive.
However, it’s not only about the SCOUT badge on the front fenders, the silver finish of the door mirrors or the overall rough appearance, the KAROQ SCOUT is fitted with intelligent 4×4 drive, added protection for the fragile parts of the chassis, and smart off-road driving assistance. Excited by having so many helpers onboard, we got in the car eager to learn how they work in the real world.
Even though the premium 18” alloy wheels are better suited to on-road driving, the KAROQ SCOUT can deal with surprisingly tough conditions because of the intelligent 4×4 drive that distributes the torque between the axles for the best traction available. The clever all-wheel-drive system is also equipped with snow and off-road modes, providing the car with easy handling even in low-traction conditions like in mud or snow. In addition, we benefited from the variety of basic driving programs ranging from normal, sport and eco, to the custom individual set-up. While driving on fire roads or trails covered with roots and stones, the rough road package, including a reinforced engine cover, rear transverse armguards and brake hose guards did their work flawlessly.
In search of the perfect biking trail, we were grateful to be able to switch on the off-road driving mode, especially on steeper descents where the car took control of the handling and did all the work for us. The system is designed not to allow any of the wheels to spin quicker than necessary and thus delivers precise torque so we could always descend safely. Thanks to the off-road infotainment display, we were always aware of which direction we were heading, the altitude, and the wheel angle.
There were still many features that we liked on the standard ŠKODA KAROQ line, like the virtual pedal to open the rear door simply by swinging your foot tip under the rear bumper. There are many instances when this comes in handy, like loading up cycling gear without having to put it on wet or muddy ground.
The KAROQ’s luggage compartment also provides more than enough space to accommodate an entire family’s belongings. Folding seats with a 60:40 split ratio enable the easy transport of bicycles, even for up to three people. The clever VarioFlex rear seats slide, recline, fold, and can be removed altogether. When travelling in a pair, we managed to easily fit both bikes into the interior by folding the bigger segment of the rear seats. However, after a half-day of riding through mud and puddles in the forest, we preferred to put them on the roof racks that – in the case of the KAROQ – are very easy to access.
Ultimately, the ŠKODA KAROQ SCOUT is the perfect car for all practically-minded customers with an appetite for adventure. That being said, you should ask yourself if you need a 4×4 model or would be happy with the cheaper front-driven KAROQ, which runs slightly more economically. Should your journeys often include taking the backroads though, the ŠKODA KAROQ SCOUT is the right choice. It offers a splendid design and rugged features, enabling you to come back from any off-road adventure safely.