Skoda has refreshed its Karoq. A reason for us to thoroughly test the best-selling Skoda SUV. Taking part: Kia XCeed 1.5 T-GDI, Mazda CX-30 G 2.0 M Hybrid and Renault Captur TCe 140.
Attention, don't let the dreary play of colors fool you: the most important import models drive in here in the compact SUV category. First and foremost the recently refreshed Karoq, after the Octavia the top seller at Skoda. There is also the crossover variant of the Kia Ceed, the popular Renault Captur in the sporty RS-Line look and the Mazda CX-30, which looks very discreet despite the Kodo design and which recently pushed the CX-3 out of the market.
All four rely on the power of cultivated four-cylinder engines with 140 to 160 hp, have front-wheel drive and, with the exception of the Mazda, all have a dual-clutch transmission. Let's start with the most expensive and powerful car, the 160 hp XCeed. In the tested version, Black Xdition, he has to write off 34,700 euros. Still not a bad choice.
The jacked-up Ceed, which by the way is around five centimeters flatter than the Mazda, is only a little missing from the full equipment. The grandiosely easy-to-use infotainment including navigation system, competent voice control and web connection and the recently introduced digital instruments? Anyway on board. Radar, camera, sound system, high-quality fittings? As well. Reserved for the top model, however, are leather-covered and first-class molded sports seats, which the similarly expensive Skoda cannot top.
The comfortable back seat also deserves praise. There really shouldn't be a lack of lateral support and leg rest. Since the rear and trunk (426 liters) are not that narrow despite the sleek body, the 4.40 meter long Kia is surprisingly well suited as a touring car. A 40:20:40 division of the backrest and a large underbody compartment increase the variability.
Kia XCeed: Ready for the big tour
Of course, you don't win a comparison test with a nicely furnished interior. How does he drive, the Kia? Definitely engaged. The 1.5-liter petrol engine works a bit rough and sounds strained from 4,000 tours, but occurs spontaneously, and the seven-speed DCT changes gears quickly and extremely smoothly.
If you want to see more of the work of the gearbox: please switch to sport mode. No matter how: the Kia reaches 100 km/h after 9.3 seconds. Much faster or more sluggish is none. With a test consumption of 7.7 l/100 km, however, the Kia consumes the most fuel. Already in advance: The 140 hp Captur with 7.1 liters deserves the green crown.
The suspension comfort of the generously sized Kia is absolutely fine. Not tuned to be too bumpy or wobbly, the SUV copes with small bumps quite well and still allows faster cornering maneuvers.Except for a weakening brake after ten emergency stops from 130 km/h, you can really blame the Kia for little.
Mazda CX-30: 150 hp and yet so sluggish
The CX-30 offers a lot more attack surface. As is well known, Mazda dispenses with turbochargers and prefers to use remarkably smooth-running naturally aspirated engines with a large displacement, cylinder deactivation and a belt-driven starter generator. The already sparse torque of 213 Nm is accordingly only available at 4,000 tours, and at the latest on the comparison drive it is clear to everyone: Below there is total calm; only those who turn the two-liter petrol engine constantly towards the limiter have a chance of following the turbo SUV. Don't worry if you change to the next gear too early: the spread is very, very long.
Since the test car was only available as a switch, the driver is also asked. That can be really fun, especially since the six-speed box supports quick changes with short shifting paths, but it doesn't fit the classic group of buyers of a crossover. An automatic converter would be available for an additional 2,000 euros, which we add in the cost section. But she probably can't provide more momentum.
At least the 1.4-ton SUV doesn't use too much fuel, despite the perceived rush in the engine room. In test mode, 7.3 l/100 km are enough, and on the 275-kilometer eco lap consumption drops to 5.7 liters. Certainly, we only mention small differences here. But the CX-30 scores points.
Valuable points, because in addition to thrust, the Mazda also lacks a somewhat milder chassis. No matter where, hardly a fugue goes unmentioned. XCeed and Karoq are much more flexible. Ultimately, however, everything is half as wild. The tight tuning harmonises well with the precise steering, and those who want to rush through corners with a little more exhilaration will find an attractive partner in the CX-30.
Rather sober, all brown in brown, but the cockpit is classy. Plenty of leather (1,800 euros), many soft surfaces, neatly placed seams - yes, that has style. Likewise, the partly analogue round instruments with real pointers or the decorative steering wheel with silver pushbuttons. A rotary pushbutton between the seats makes operation easier, and a well-made head-up display compensates for the disadvantages of the small monitor in the dashboard. Only the slightly too short seats (front and rear) don't really fit into the picture. A through-loading in the rear backrests couldn't hurt either. The packers have to be content with a foldable shelf. With 430 to 1,406 liters, there is at least no lack of storage space.
The only thing left is the price, and it's amazing: 29,890 euros. Even with automatic and leather, the CX-30 is cheaper than Kia or Skoda. Since Mazda recently extended the warranty to six years, the CX-30 is clearly ahead in terms of costs.
Renault Captur: Only chic, not sporty
Only the Renault is priced here. As R.S. Line with 140 hp and double coupler is about 2000 euros over it. The sporty look with two-tone paintwork, tight sports seats, the prominently mounted touchscreen and the free-floating center console are included in the price.
Sounds tempting, but the customer also buys less car. At 4.23 meters, the Captur is almost 17 centimeters shorter than a Kia or Mazda. It is not surprising that space and loading space (422 to 1,275 liters) are limited. With a rear seat that can only be moved completely and is therefore difficult - by 16 cm - rear passengers can get significantly more legroom.
Of course, the brevity also brings advantages. The Renault weighs just 1,316 kilograms, thanks to 260 Nm of torque and fixed automatic, it flies carefree and consumes the least petrol. At the same time, it delivered excellent braking values on the test track that even the Karoq couldn't top.
But as soon as you go into a curve or over rougher roads, the enthusiasm wanes. The SUV rolls harshly, stumbles more over transverse joints than it drives, sways on waves and suffers from bumpy and unimaginative steering, which also has to contend with drive influences. As if that wasn't annoying enough, the wind roars around the shaken occupants from 150 km/h. No, with all due respect to the powerful engine, the modern cockpit, the lovable RS appearance - that's not enough. Not even third place.
Skoda Karoq: It stays as good as ever
The facelifted Karoq 1.5 TSI Style is in stark contrast. It has to shell out 34,540 euros, and in contrast to the XCeed and CX-30, extras such as navigation systems, lane keepers or adaptive cruise control are not standard. But the investment is worth it. Higher and more angular than its competitors, the Skoda offers much more freedom of movement. At the same time, getting on is easier, all-round visibility is better, and its variability knows almost no bounds. Or can you think of an SUV where the rear seats can be folded down or removed? No problem if you have ordered the Varioflex seating system (610 euros). At the same time, the outer seats can be moved lengthways. The back angle? Variable. The storage space also benefits from this. Depending on the position, the volume varies between 479 and 588 liters. If the seats are removed, the 4.38 meter long Skoda can even hold 1,810 liters. However, those who will be chauffeuring larger passengers more often prefer to stay with the classic and comfortable rear seat (with through-loading). Due to the Varioflex concept, the backrests in particular are narrow. The front seats, embellished with nappa leather, convince with more lateral support and are among the best here.
The range of options such as nets, 220 volt socket or tablet holder in the rear is also fantastic. A three-zone air conditioning system and LED matrix headlights are new.Despite the update, nothing has changed in the cockpit with its digital instruments. why. The console below the large-format touchscreen with its rotary controls and large buttons plus the massive automatic selector below it looks comparatively old-fashioned, but its conventional operation is easy.
One of the most important buttons, part of the performance package (830 euros) with adaptive dampers and sensitive progressive steering, is located on the bottom left in front of the gear lever, labeled with a small car logo. Here the driver can choose to impose a rowdy driving behavior on his Karoq - or enjoy the slight undulations and comparatively supple suspension comfort in the comfort program. A classic compact car would still be more comfortable.
Balance is key
The last few lines are due to the 150 hp and 250 Nm strong 1.5 TSI of the latest Evo generation. Except for the increased consumption of 7.6 liters, he does a super job here. Quiet and low-vibration, but still powerful, it gets the heaviest SUV in this quartet moving as quickly as possible with a lot of indifference. Of course, the dual-clutch transmission is also involved, which changes gears really quickly and imperceptibly. An exemplary combination that fits perfectly with the peaceful character of the Karoq. 1st place? Anyway.
The harmonious handling paired with a lot of utility, space and variability makes the Karoq an unrivaled good car with only one disadvantage: the high price.
Not quite as balanced as the Skoda, the XCeed still scores with a lot of comfort, a powerful engine and easy operation. Too weak: the brakes.
As unique as the suction motor is, it doesn't help here. But the tight CX-30 convinces with a fine interior, brisk handling and low costs.
The little Captur has a lot of charisma, is fast, brakes great and is not even expensive. But the chassis tuning does not fit the concept at all. A real shame.