In the past I’ve had Skoda’s other SUV offerings - Karoq and Kodiaq - as long-term test cars and been deeply impressed by both over the course of a few months. I didn’t have the Kamiq for as long but, due to logistical problems, I did end up with it for a few weeks. Sadly though, it never won me over in the way its stablemates did.
Like so many B-SUVs it doesn’t do anything particularly wrong but it doesn’t excel in many areas either.
Looks-wise, it’s recognisably a Skoda with the sharp creases and angles running from headlights to tail lights. But it lacks the presence of its larger SUV stablemates or the sleeker shape of the Scala hatchback. And, like many current rivals, the ride height doesn’t feel significantly taller than an equivalent hatchback, robbing it of one of the supposed appeals of the SUV style.
That height issue aside, the Kamiq’s driving position is at least good, with decent visibility, supportive seating and plenty of adjustment allowing drivers of all shapes and sizes to get comfortable.
Skoda Kamiq SE L
Price: £23,230 (£24,800 as tested)Engine: 1.0-litre, three-cylinder, turbo, petrolPower: 114bhpTorque: 148lb ftTransmission: Seven-speed DSG automaticTop speed: 119mph0-62mph: 10 secondsEconomy: 41.5-45.6mpgCO2 emissions: 113g/km
The interior is also recognisably a Skoda. Some dashboard inserts aside it’s a little plain but all the touchpoint materials are good quality without ever straying towards premium. Controls are laid out clearly and logically, and while there are relatively few physical controls there are proper dials to adjust the air con and dedicated steering wheel switches for controlling the stereo.
The interior also showcases the Kamiq’s one key strength, that of being more spacious and practical than its rivals. I cannot think of a direct competitor that offers as much rear leg and headroom. Certainly, I can’t name another model that would allow a 6’ 5” passenger to fit behind an average sized driver with room to spare.
The rear bench is tight width-wise for three passengers, especially if you’re carrying children in car seats, but for a family of four or even four fully grown adults, there’s more than enough room.
If you are going to be carrying those four adults regularly the test car’s 114bhp 1.0-litre petrol might prove a little under-powered but in day-to-day family and commuting use it held up well. There’s enough grunt from the three-cylinder turbo, and the seven-speed auto transmission takes the pain out of city driving. It’s a frugal machine, too - over several hundred miles it returned a solid 44mpg against official figures of 41.5-45.6mpg.
On the road, the handling is solid and reassuring, but falls well short of the standard set by the Ford Puma or even the new Nissan Juke, with a ride that feels slightly compromised by the 18-inch alloys that came as standard on our test car. It’s hardly going to break your spine but slightly taller tyres wouldn’t go amiss.
At £25,000 our SE L test car sits second from top in the Kamiq range. It packs a decent amount of equipment, such as dual-zone climate control, an excellent 9.2-inch media/navigation system, a fully digital instrument display, cruise control and safety features such as front and lane assist plus blind spot detection. But even still, there are a lot of blank plates around the cabin, indicating where extra features could be added at a cost. Go crazy and you could get your Kamiq close to £30k before you even look at a more powerful engine.
Like virtually every other B-segment crossover/SUV, the Kamiq fails to ignite much excitement and, personally, I’d choose the hatchback equivalent of virtually any of them. However, in the context of its rivals, the Kamiq again nails Skoda’s brief of offering an enticing blend of quality and space along with a solid and easy driving experience.
A version of this article originally appeared on our sister site The Scotsman