Skoda’s very own VW T-Roc comes to Europe

The Skoda Kamiq is the company’s third crossover and its smallest SUV yet. Designed for the subcompact market, the Kamiq was created and built in China by the SAIC-Volkswagen joint venture. Launched on the Chinese market in June 2018, the Kamiq came to Europe in 2019. Somewhat surprisingly, the Kamiq sports a new design for the European market, one that sets it apart from the Kodiaq and Karoq. The three SUVs still have something in common though. As with its larger siblings, the name Kamiq originates from the language of the Inuit people who live in northern Canada and Greenland. And it means something that fits perfectly. As the company’s third SUV since 2016, the Kamiq replaces the Yeti, which was discontinued back in 2017, and shares underpinnings with the Volkswagen T-Roc and the Seat Arona, among other Volkswagen Group vehicles. It also competes with the successful Nissan Juke and its upcoming successor.

Exterior

  • Unique features
  • Subcompact size
  • Looks modern
  • Split headlamps
  • Somewhat rugged
  • Hatchback on stilts
  • Sporty front end
2019 Skoda Kamiq
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The headlamps are particularly interesting as Skoda went with a split design

When Skoda announced that the Kamiq is coming to Europe I was pretty sure that the crossover will look identical to its Chinese counterpart. But Skoda redesigned some of the vehicle’s features, giving it a unique look. The most important changes are noticeable up front. While the China-spec Kamiq looks very similar to the Karoq, the European version stands out thanks to its new headlamps and front bumper.

The headlamps are particularly interesting as Skoda went with a split design. There a thin strip that starts from the upper corners of the grille and extends toward the fenders and larger light units underneath. The upper lights are actually daytime running lights and when specified with LED technology, they appear like four gemstones. This split headlamp design is unique in the Skoda lineup, but I can’t decide whether I like it or not. It’s cool to have something different, but it seems to me that the layout doesn’t blend in very well with the rest of the fascia.

2019 Skoda Kamiq
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The European front fascia looks sportier than its Chinese counterpart

Skoda also revised the grille for this SUV. The chrome frame has sharper corners and the entire grille is a tad flatter, which allows the engine hood to extend a bit more over the nose. The lower section is clearly separated from the bumper compared to the Chinese version, mostly because the apron doesn’t extend as much in front of the nose. The wide grille in the bumper was mounted a bit higher to make way for a splitter-like protection plate. The fog lamps have static cornering lights, a premier on a Skoda.

Overall, the European front fascia looks sportier than its Chinese counterpart. On the other hand, the split headlamp design could make it less familiar to Skoda enthusiasts.

The Kamiq looks rather generic onto the sides, but Skoda made quite a few changes compared to the Chinese version. The engine hood extends all the way to the beltline, the quarter windows were redesigned, and the side skirts look more elegant thanks to their body-colored design and black trim. The large wheels, available in 16 to 18 inches, prevent the Kamiq from looking like a hatchback.

2019 Skoda Kamiq
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Interestingly enough, the European Kamiq is a tad smaller than the Chinese version

The Kamiq’s rear end was redesigned as well for the European market. Skoda dropped the large taillights used on the Chinese version, opting for the newer C-shaped units. The tailgate goes deeper into the bumper, which should make loading big items in the trunk a lot easier. The lower bumper is new as well, now sporting a diffuser-like design.

Interestingly enough, the European Kamiq is a tad smaller than the Chinese version. At 4,241 mm (163 inches) long, the Euro SUV is 149 mm (5.9 inches) shorter. On the other hand, it’s 12 mm (0.5 inches) wider and sits 62 mm lower (2.4 inches), which gives it a more planted stance. Despite being shorter, the Euro Kamiq has a longer wheelbase than the Chinese model. Specifically, it benefits from an extra 41 mm (1.6 inches), which translates into extra legroom inside the cabin.

Interior

  • Modern design
  • Big infotainment display
  • Digital instrument cluster
  • Optional premium features
  • Spacious trunk
  • Foldable front passenger seat
2019 Skoda Kamiq
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Skoda offers three different infotainment displays, including a range-topping 9.2-inch unit

Just like its exterior, the interior of the Euro-spec Kamiq differs from the Chinese version. But not by much. The dashboard layout looks similar to Skoda’s other SUVs, but it stands out when compared to the Karoq and Kodiaq as well. While the bigger crossovers have the infotainment display flanked by A/C vents, the Kamiq features a new layout, with the vents placed underneath the screen. The display also has a free-standing design, sitting on a small "tray" on the center stack.

Skoda offers three different infotainment displays. The base model comes with a 6.5-inch screen called Swing. Opt for a more expensive trim, and you get the larger, eight-inch Bolero display. Finally, the range-topping Amundsen system has a 9.2-inch display, which is also the largest in this segment. The 6.5-inch system has four audio speakers, while the other two come with eight. If you’re an audiophile, you can get the optional 405-watt system with ten speakers.

2019 Skoda Kamiq
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The Virtual Cockpit option adds a big 10.25-inch, all-digital instrument cluster

The instrument cluster is also similar to other Skoda SUVs, but the digital screen between dials is much smaller, which isn’t surprising given the subcompact size of this SUV. However, the Virtual Cockpit option adds a big 10.25-inch, all-digital instrument cluster. Other cool features include ambient lighting in colors like white, red, and copper, diamond quilting on the seats, and contrasting stitching. Optional comfort features include a heated steering wheel, heated windscreen, and heated seats.

The Kamiq comes with a permanent internet connection to keep all passengers connected. The Skoda Connect app includes many new features, like the ability to lock and unlock the car and to check if the windows are closed remotely. You can also check how much fuel you have in the tank, as well as the mileage or the speeds the Kamiq has traveled.

2019 Skoda Kamiq
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With the rear seats folded flat, trunk space increases to 1,395 liters (49.3 cubic feet)

As far as passenger comfort goes, Skoda has yet to release numbers, but did say that the longer wheelbase provides 73 mm (2.9 inches) of knee room for rear passengers.

Trunk space is rated at 400 liters (14.1 cubic feet) with the rear seats in place. That’s on par with the Seat Arona and 44 liters (1.5 cubic feet) bigger than the Nissan Juke. However, the Kamiq falls behind the Volkswagen T-Roc by 45 liters (1.6 cubic feet).

With the rear seats folded flat, trunk space increases to 1,395 liters (49.3 cubic feet). The Kamiq offers an extra 206 liters (7.3 cubic feet) over the Juke, but it’s 137 liters (4.8 cubic feet) behind the T-Roc. The good news is that the front passenger seat can also be folded down, allowing longer items up to 2,447 mm (96.3 inches) to be transported in the cabin.

Drivetrain

  • Engines from VW T-Roc
  • Gasoline and diesel
  • Up to 148 horsepower
  • Up to 184 pound-feet
  • Six-speed manual
  • Optional seven-speed DSG
  • Sport mode
  • Not suitable for off-roading
2019 Skoda Kamiq
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The base engine is the 1.0 TSI rated at 95 PS and 195 Nm of torque (94 horsepower and 144 pound-feet)

As expected, the Kamiq features the same engines as the Volkswagen T-Roc and Seat Arona, two crossovers built on the same underpinnings. Unlike the Chinese version that only comes with the 1.5-liter four-cylinder, the Euro-spec Kamiq is also available with the 1.0-liter three-cylinder and the 1.6-liter diesel unit.

The base engine is the 1.0 TSI rated at 95 PS and 195 Nm of torque (94 horsepower and 144 pound-feet). This tiny and not-so-powerful mill mates to a five-speed manual gearbox. But Skoda also offers a more powerful version that cranks out 115 PS and 200 Nm of torque (113 horsepower and 148 pound-feet). Besides the extra oomph, this unit mates to a six-speed manual as standard and it can be upgraded optionally to a seven-speed DSG.

2019 Skoda Kamiq
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The 1.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engines delivers a solid 150 PS and 250 Nm of twist (148 horsepower and 184 pound-feet)

If you need more power, the 1.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engines delivers a solid 150 PS and 250 Nm of twist (148 horsepower and 184 pound-feet). This mill also features Active Cylinder Technology that shuts down two cylinders to save fuel. The same six-speed manual and seven-speed DSG automatic transmissions are available.

All three engines feature brake energy recovery, the stop/start system, and a particulate filter.

If you’re a fan of oil burners, the Kamiq can also be specified with a the 1.6 TDI, a turbocharged four-cylinder diesel. This engine cranks out 115 PS and 250 Nm of torque (113 horsepower and 184 pound-feet) and it also mates to a six-speed manual as standard or the seven-speed DSG as an option.

2019 Skoda Kamiq
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Sport Chassis Control lowers the suspension by 10 mm (0.4 inches) and adds a Sport mode with firmer shock absorbers

All told, the Skoda Kamiq is identical to the Volkswagen T-Roc and Seat Arona under the skin, save for a few minor trim-related features.

Although it sits 37 mm (1.4 inches) higher from the ground than its compact car equivalent, the Skoda Scala, the Kamiq isn’t exactly an off-roader. While it can tackle rough terrain with some success if you add the optional underbody protection. This crossover was design for city duty and its driving modes will attest to that.

Skoda brags that the Kamiq behaves like an authentic compact car thanks to its Sport Chassis Control feature that lowers the suspension by 10 mm (0.4 inches) and adds a Sport mode with firmer shock absorbers with adjustable valves. In addition to the Sport mode, the Kamiq also features Normal, Eco, and Individual setups. The first two speak for their own, while the latter allows you to customize every setting to your liking and save it as a bespoke mode.

Pricing

2019 Skoda Kamiq
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The Kamiq will become Skoda’s most affordable SUV, but we don’t know yet how much it will cost. Chinese pricing starts from CNY110,000, which converts to around £12,500 as of March 2019, but the Euro-spec SUV will cost a bit more than that. It won’t be as expensive as the Volkswagen T-Roc, priced from £19,270, but it will probably cost a bit more than the Nissan Juke, which starts from £15,505.

Competition

Volkswagen T-Roc

2018 Volkswagen T-Roc Exterior High Resolution Wallpaper quality
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The Kamiq competse against the Volkswagen T-Roc, the crossover it is based on. Although the T-Roc has better features in order to stand out as a more premium-oriented hauler, the Kamiq will definitely steal a few customers who prefer Skoda’s design and the most affordable sticker. The smallest VW SUV you can buy comes with a selection of five engines. The gasoline lineup includes a 1.0-liter three-cylinder rated at 113 horsepower, a 1.5-liter four-banger that generates 148 horses, and a 2.0-liter TSI that cranks out 187 horsepower. The latter comes with 4Motion all-wheel drive. Diesel options include the 1.6-liter TDI with 113 horsepower and 184 pound-feet and the 2.0-liter TDI with 148 horses and 236 pound-feet. Transmission choices include the familiar six-speed manual and seven-speed DSG automatic. Pricing for the Volkswagen T-Roc starts from £19,270.

Read our full story on the 2018 Volkswagen T-Roc.

Seat Arona

2018 Seat Arona High Resolution Exterior
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Essentially a rebodied T-Roc, the Seat Arona arrived in 2017, alongside the Volkswagen-badged crossover and riding on the same underpinnings. The Arona has the same engines as the T-Roc, but it’s specced a bit different inside the cabin. Volkswagen wants to keep the Arona below the T-Roc feature- and technology-wise, but they’re actually pretty similar in these departments. Much like the T-Roc, the Arona can be specced with higher quality materials in its more expensive trims and include the company’s latest infotainment system and apps. The Arona is a bit more affordable though, as it retails from £17,145.

Read our full review of the 2018 Seat Arona.

Nissan Juke

2014 Nissan Juke High Resolution Exterior
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The Juke is the reason why Volkswagen developed the T-Roc and why Seat also wanted the Arona. Introduced in 2010, it competed almost alone in this niche until recent years and became quite popular, despite its weird-looking front fascia and hatchback-like stance. Based on the Nissan B platform, shared with the Renault Captur, the Juke is still popular in Europe, but it was replaced by the Kicks in North America. It appears that the nine-year old Juke will soldier on for a while in Europe, but its successor might have a different name and design. For the time being, you can have the Juke with either a 1.6-liter gasoline engine or a 1.5-liter diesel. The 1.6 comes in two guises, a naturally aspirated version with 115 horsepower and 116 pound-feet and a turbocharged variant with 197 horses and 184 pound-feet. The 1.5-liter dCi cranks out 109 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of twist. Priced from £15,505, the Juke is the most affordable vehicle in this comparison.

Read our full story on the 2018 Nissan Juke

Final Thoughts

2019 Skoda Kamiq
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For some strange reason Skoda chose to launch the Kamiq in China first, despite the fact that subcompact crossovers are doing really well in Europe. It might have something to do with Volkswagen’s strategy for the T-Roc and the Seat Arona, but Skoda is finally doing the right thing and it’s bringing the Kamiq to Europe. This is an important car and a big step for the Czech automaker, which is adding a third crossover in only three years. Profits will likely go up starting 2019 and hopefully Skoda will use some of them to design more exciting cars. The Kamiq may look a bit strange due to its split headlamp design, but it might become popular with SUV enthusiasts looking for an affordable commuter that rides higher than the norm.

  • Leave it
    • Tough competition
    • Quirky front fascia?

Further reading

2017 Skoda Kodiaq
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Read our full review on the 2018 Skoda Kodiaq.

2018 Skoda Karoq Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2018 Skoda Karoq.

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