My Urban Car

Cutting NOx by 95% – switching to a Skoda Karoq 1.5 TSI petrol auto from a Range Rover Evoque 2.2 diesel auto

Update 8th May

You really can have it all!

With nearly a thousand miles on the clock the Karoq petrol is delivering almost identical fuel economy to the Evoque diesel which produced a 35mpg figure over similar driving. The Karoq is the same size with a massive boot. I think it’s even an I-Pace could struggle to fit 4 suitcases as easily. The economy is achieved because it’s so much lighter than an Evoque at only just over 1300kg, has clever cylinder deactivation technology and like the Evoque has a clever auto box with lots of gears.

The Karoq 1.5 TSi is shaping up to be a very easy car to live with and especially in Edition trim it really feels as premium as a Q5 or a Tiguan. It’s spacious, refined and yet like an Evoque is compact when it comes to parking – a real Tardis! Until I find an EV I prefer this could be the ideal family car.

 

Update 13th March 2017

Now at 650 miles the Karoq has had a try out on the snow. Behaved fine as you would expect from a front wheel drive car thats light and has good ground clearance.

Having originally found it a little sluggish on motorway slip roads and higher speed acceleration I slipped it out my default eco setting into normal and sport. Having done a little running in I’ve discovered that eco holds the revs under 2,000 even when you accelerate hard. The other modes solve this with quick kickdown and acceleration at motorway speeds is good when its allowed to rev.

 

A month on from picking up my Skoda Karoq how do they compare? Both cars were in their most luxurious spec – the 2014 Evoque in Prestige Lux and the Karoq in Edition spec.

Design outside – winner Evoque

These 2 cars are about as close in size as 2 completely different models can be. The Karoq is 4.382m long (12 mm longer than the Evoque) while the Evoque is 30mm taller and 59mm wider. The Evoque is a premium car (about 14k heavier than the Skoda’s under 30k list price) but for a model due for replacement soon it still looks great. That said the Skoda is a very elegant design and looks good in the standard 19 inch alloys – probably in my eyes the best looking model from the brand although I did have a soft spot for more interesting Yeti.

 

Design inside

In terms of space for passengers both cars feel quite close. The Evoque does have a more luxurious leather covered dashboard but over all the Skoda does remarkably well in this edition spec. Everything from instruments to controls look and work nicely. The Karoq has an excellent central display that behaves pretty much like a phone with pinch and zoom on maps. It’s much faster and more responsive than the older Land Rover system and includes apple and android car play. That said the Karoq did lose it’s position for a few minutes in central Bath! Overall impressive though.

Comfort

There is nothing wrong with the comfort of the seats in the Karoq but coming from the Evoque they are thinner and not as cossetting. That said they look great and are perfectly comfortable on long journeys.

Ride Quality – easy win for the Evoque

The 19 inch wheels on the Karoq may be to blame but you definitely want to aim carefully at speedbumps compared to the Evoque which just seemed to sail over them. Overall the Karoq rides fine and doesn’t do the BMW thing of falling into potholes but it is firmer.

Handling – win for Karoq

Not had a chance to test this fully but the Karoq feels quite car like – less roll the Evoque. It’s also around 300kg lighter and feels it.

Practicality – easy win for Karoq

This Karoq comes with varioflex seating as standard. This means you can slide the rear seats individually (split 30:20:30) and recline them for comfort. You can even remove them and leave them entirely. These aren’t even an option on the Evoque.

The truly amazing thing is the boot space. Offically the Evoque has a 575L boot while the Karoq is only 488L with the seats pushed all the way back or 582L pushed fully forward. So these pictures of the same 2 suitcases in the boot of the Evoque and Karoq may be a surprise. The Evoque can only take these cases side by side- a max of 2 with soft bags on top. By contrast the Karoqs deeper, longer boot would take 4 (even upright) with additional room for small bags on top – and these were with the seats set all the way back to allow max room for rear passengers. This really makes the difference between carrying 4 passengers and bags with luggage and just 3 in the Evoque unless you’re travelling light. For parents the space and flexibility are more like the larger Discovery sport for those not needing 7 seats.

Engine – a win for the Karoq

Both have auto gearboxes, with 9 speeds in the Evoque and 7 in the Karoq. Thats where the similarity ends. The old Ford 2.2 diesel has thankfully been replaced by a cleaner engine in the new Evoques. The old engine in my car produced 25x the NOx pollution compared to the limit for petrols whereas the new model is only 3x as polluting according to independent tests by Emissions Analytics. This diesel did have plenty of torque though and made a quiet and relaxed cruising companion.

The VW sourced 1.5 TSI petrol is not only at least 25x less polluting for NOx (it gets a A+ Equa rating), but also produces a much lower official CO2 figure of 128g against the Evoque’s 159g.

It does forgo 4WD for front drive only but this would make little difference to most drivers especially if fitted with all season tyres. Having had the chance a brief snow test the Karoq performed fine on standard tires but there were no hills to try. I did find a spot with space for my “what does the ABS do if you brake hard on snow” test. It stayed straight (unlike my old BMW which ended up facing at 90 degrees!)

Slightly against usual assumptions not only is the Karoq engine super quiet ( in town you wonder if it’s electric ) it also has lots of pull at low speeds.

For the first 600 miles I left the Karoq in Eco mode and noticed a lack of acceleration onto the motorway slipways where the Evoque used to effortlessly accelerate. It turns out Eco mode limits the revs to 2,000 and not surprisingly leaves the car in a high gear – hence lack of acceleration at over 50 mph. Testing it in Normal or Sport settings was a transformation with a quick kickdown and a surge of acceleration even at motorway speeds. More surprisingly after a mix of hard acceleration, steady motorway and a trip through west London roads I ended up at just over 40mpg.

Economy – a draw

With a mix of town driving and some trips away the Evoque diesel fuel consumption was 35mpg. 22 to 33 in London only trips / 37mpg at steady French motorway speed (85mph) / 43mpg on mixed UK trips with some A road, some motorway ( with 1/3rd roadworks!)

The petrol Karoq looks set to produce identical figures. Around 35 mpg overall. On my current tank full around 250 miles in its on 37mpg including a trip from London to Bath on the M4. Strangely I got 35mpg outbound and 43mpg on the way back. The karoq is helped by being much lighter and by a clever system that shuts down 2 of the 4 cylinders when the power isnt needed. It appears to make quite a difference when functioning.

Both cars tend to carry on coasting in top gear when you take your foot off the accelerator which saves fuel if you are good at spotting slower traffic early.

Noise – win for the Evoque

As I said the Karoq has a very quiet engine and little wind noise. So how can the Evoque win? Well certainly on these tyres the Karoq produces more roadnoise. Whats more while on most roads it is only a little noisier, certain surfaces ( like concrete on sections of the M25 ) it does make it harder to chat. Different, lower noise tyres, or smaller wheels might help.

Sunroof V moonroof – win for the Karoq

The moonroof on the Evoque is impressive but for me a glass sunroof that is nearly a big and where the glass opens not just the blind is a winner.

Heated front windscreen – win for the Karoq

This is a personal thing but the Karoq wins by not having a heated windscreen. I know some people like them because they defrost a windcreen a minute or 2 faster but I find the little wires get lit up by low winter sun and oncoming headlights at night. Both annoying and distracting it’s like having a permanently dirty glary windscreen. The Karoq doesnt have one ( it’s an option) whereas it’s standard and compulsory on Land Rovers whether you love them or hate them!

Managed to test screen de-icing times during the recent London snow dump (no sniggering if you’re from Sweden or Norway!). With 2-3 cm of snow and a layer of ice on the screen it took 6 minutes to clear the screen only using heater and then wipers. I can live with that. Heated screen probably would have been 3 mins quicker.

Numerical speedo – win for Evoque

In these days of regular speed checks I’ve got used to using the speed readout in the instrument panel on the Evoque especially on trips over the channel where you need to know your speed in Km/h.

The Karoq has a nice spot on the instrument panel where you can display speed or mpg etc but as soon as satnav is engaged it defaults to showing your next turn info there. Could be wrong but seems to you can’t display mph while on a long journey. If you try to put mph back your navigation gets cancelled! Maybe there’s a way. Tweet me if you know! @myurbancar

Overall

The intent in switching was to have a car that was not diesel, not highly polluting, not higher in CO2 and was as comfortable as the Evoque. There is a difference between a 44k Evoque and a 29K Karoq but at this early stage it looks like the Karoq will provide an attractive, comfortable and very practical alternative.

In the MyUrbanCar tech levels I’ve gone from 0 to 4. My next car could well be a level 7 if the I-Pace can deliver but the Karoq will do just fine for now and give me the feelgood factor of a diesel free cleaner drive. Good for air quality!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

David Nicholson

David Nicholson Is the founder of Rivergecko Ltd & MyUrbanCar which provide consultancy and advice for drivers and fleets to speed the transition from dirty fossil fuel transport to clean vehicles powered by renewable energy on land water and air.

The @MyUrbanCar twitter feed is a source of news & reviews of electric & plugin cars and vans in the UK.
The @rivergecko twitter feed & www.myurbancar.com websites bring news and opinion on cleantech transport including cars, vans, buses, trucks, shipping, rail & aviation as well as autonomous vehicles & renewable energy, air pollution & motor industry news.

David Nicholson has worked as an underwriter at Lloyd's of London since the 1980's. His interest in technology goes back many years including interactive mapping, apps, green tech, boats, solar and cars.

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