What is it?
The latest entrant to the ever-growing small SUV segment, the 2021 Skoda Kamiq has been an instant winner since joining the brand’s Australian lineup late last year. The smallest SUV on offer from Skoda, sitting below the Karoq and Kodiaq, it shares a platform with the Volkswagen T-Cross, giving it an overall footprint around the same as that of a Mk8 Golf (longer wheelbase but shorter overall length) but with the benefits of extra height and ground clearance, making it the ideal size for city dwellers and young Aussie families.
What you won’t be able to buy before long is the version on test here, the 110TSI Limited Edition which, as the name implies, is only on offer as an introductory special for $35,490 before on-roads. Such is the success of the Kamiq, all entry-level 85TSI three-cylinder models are sold out also and aren’t returning for the 2022 model year, which will see the Kamiq rejigged to offer three trim levels – Ambition and Signature which are the new range opener and topper respectively, and the carry-over Monte Carlo sat in the middle, all of which will now come with the more powerful 110TSI driveline as standard.
Why are we testing it?
Given how much of a (quite literal) run-out success the Kamiq has been in just a few months on the Aussie market, we figured it’d be worth seeing what all the fuss is about as the Kamiq is certainly a smart-looking thing with a very strong features list.
What’s it like inside?
As soon as you slide behind the wheel of the Kamiq, there’s an immediate and apparent air of quality to its construction – sure, it might not feature the most incredible materials on Earth, as there are some harder plastics to be found in places, but everything feels pleasant and solidly bolted together which is a far more important characteristic in my eyes.
However, if you were expecting any Czech funkiness in here, I’m afraid there isn’t as it’s all very Volkswagen – not that this is a problem in the slightest, though, and is in fact quite the opposite as everything is logically laid out, the ergonomics are excellent, and it presents itself with real simplicity and class.
As such, the LED displays for the digital instrument cluster and big 9.2-inch infotainment screen are crystal clear and incredibly responsive, the seats are supportive in all the right places and there’s more than enough room for tall folks in both the front or rear, and all the controls fall easily to hand and don’t require a Diploma in Computing to figure out how to operate. In a sign of incredible practicality and courteousness, the boot is surrounded with lots of netting to hold things in place on every single side – a true sign of Germanic sensibility which is very welcome in a vehicle like this.
The features list is incredibly strong as well, and although you’ll be harder-pressed to get one of these Limited Edition models as the name implies, the chances are that the spec list for the Signature model that replaces it next year will be pretty similar – although anything other than it being an effective replacement for this trim has yet been disclosed.
Sitting at the top of the 2021 range, an electrically-adjustable driver’s seat, dual-zone climate control, two-stage heated seats both front and rear, combination leather and Suedia upholstery, a sports steering wheel wrapped in perforated leather and featuring a set of paddle shifters, wireless Apple CarPlay, and a wireless phone charger are all fitted as standard. In fact, a panoramic sunroof is the only available feature missing from the Limited Edition’s list of standard inclusions, although it can be optioned on. It’s also worth noting that there are only USB-C ports to be found on the inside and no regular USB ports – a good bit of future-proofing, although it might force you into buying some new phone cables today.
For the price tag, it’s certainly an impressive-enough list of features to back it up, and when fitted to what is a sophisticated and intelligent interior, it means that the Kamiq delivers a decently premium feel, and especially so for the segment. Plus, the sizing, like the temperature of baby bear’s porridge, is just right.
What’s it like to drive?
Although a three-cylinder version – the 85TSI – was available upon the model’s launch, all that’s left for the rest of 2021 and also 2022 are 110TSI variants. Featuring a 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, as the name suggests, it makes 110kW of power at 6000rpm and 250Nm of torque spread evenly from 1500-3500rpm. For 2021, a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is all the 110TSI is available meaning it’s what my tester was equipped with, but next year’s Ambition grade will see it available with a six-speed manual as well. All Kamiq models are front-wheel drive exclusively – not that this is an issue for what is a largely city-centric SUV.
There’s no doubt that it’s a brilliant drivetrain, with it delivering an unquestionably smooth, refined, and unobtrusive feel that’s decidedly fitting given its premium aspirations. The engine remains hushed and in the background but is willing and responsive when called upon, the dual-clutch auto is masterfully quick and the gearshifts are imperceptible, and despite being front-drive there’s no torque steer or other such histrionics to speak of no matter how hard you push.
While Monte Carlo models feature a unique sports suspension tune, this Limited Edition model features the base model’s more comfort-focused tune, and although it means it might not display the absolute greatest amount of flatness and rigidity through the bends, it’s still pretty great at keeping things sorted.
What it is particularly good at, though, is massaging out the grievances I have with Adelaide’s imperfect city streets. Soaking up all the bumps but not feeling at all floaty, it treads a nice balance between solid dynamics and outright comfort, and is definitely the setup to go for in my eyes given the Kamiq’s focus.
The steering manages to find the same balance also – not too heavy nor too light, it’s not the last word in driver engagement but it’s more confidence inspiring than the tiller in the majority of cars in this class, and, once again, feels perfectly-suited to a car like this.
While there are gooduns in this space like the Hyundai Kona N Line and Ford Puma that do deliver an impressive dynamic performance, you’ll really be hard-pressed to find anything that fits the true brief for the class better than this.
How do the numbers stack up?
While at a list price of $35,490 the Kamiq 110TSI Limited Edition already looks like a good deal, Skoda is offering it at $36,990 drive-away which really is good value given how well-rounded a list of features it offers – and just how polished the tech is, too. Do keep in mind, though, that the Velvet Red paint you see here is a steep $1100 extra (other premium hues are $550) and a sunroof will set you back $1300 if those are things that take your fancy.
Its five-year unlimited kilometre warranty is now effectively the market standard in Australia, and while capped-price servicing is offered, so are some really competitive pre-paid service packages that see $800 cover you for three years or $1400 for five.
Given its 1.5-litre turbo engine is Euro 6 compliant, it’s shockingly fuel efficient as well – I saw it sip at just 6.4L/100km which is a very reasonable increase over the 5.6L/100km claim given my lead foot. Impressive stuff.
So, what’s the verdict?
There’s not a lot of faults to pick at with the Skoda Kamiq, and it’s a real testament to just how much attention to detail Skoda (and Volkswagen) put into considerate and courteous design.
The Kamiq is an easy recommendation for anyone looking at something in this class, and a reminder that it pays to shop around. Skoda might not be the first name that crops up on your shortlist, but this thing certainly delivers a lot of reasons why it should be right on there towards the top.
If you like the balance of this Limited Edition spec as much as I do, I’d suggest acting fast, but if you don’t mind waiting – after all, who isn’t having to face a few delays when it comes to getting a new car in this climate – it might pay to wait for the new Signature model which, while bumping up the price a bit, will likely bring even more kit with it to boot.
2021 Skoda Kamiq 110TSI Limited Edition List Price: $35,490 | As Tested: $36,590
- Performance - 7.5/107.5/10
- Ride & Handling - 9/109/10
- Tech & Features - 8.5/108.5/10
- Practicality - 8.5/108.5/10
- Value for Money - 8.5/108.5/10
Pros: Nice balance between ride comfort and dynamics, imperceptible and incredibly smooth drivetrain, high-quality and courteously-designed interior
Cons: You’ll be harder-pressed to get this Limited Edition model which is the pick of the bunch, some harder interior plastics, USB-C power outlets only
Full Disclosure: The vehicle tested here was provided by Volkswagen Group Australia for a week with a full tank of fuel.