There’s no denying Skoda are making some great cars at the moment. Well made, well kitted out and well-priced.

This is one (well, three) of the reasons I voted for the Kodiaq in last year’s Car of The Year awards; A fantastic 7-seat SUV just a smidgen under $40K? Well worth the CoTY title.

But then something happened. Skoda New Zealand simply couldn’t hold the price for the base Kodiaq any longer, and it went up $3K to $42,990.

This week, the pricing for their new compact SUV, the Karoq, came out. We’ll only get two models to start with; the Ambition+ and the Style with the new 1.5-litre turbo motor with active cylinder technology, and the turbo diesel AWD in Style only.

This isn’t a bad thing, but the pricing was much more than I had expected; the petrol Karoq Ambition+ retails at $38,990. That’s just a grand less than what the base full-size Kodiaq started at last year. In comparison, that’s $2K more than a mid-spec, AWD Hyundai Kona – even a top-spec Peugeot 2008 (GT Line) runs at $34,900.

The Style model with the petrol motor is $42,990 and if you want the turbo diesel AWD you’ll pay $48,490.

The new 110kW, 250Nm 1.5-litre petrol turbo does sound interesting, to the point where Skoda claims the engine ‘is to be considered a bit of a freak’.  Their words, not mine. It can run on two cylinders when it can, and has a combined fuel rating of 5.6l/100km. Apparently New Zealand is the first country to showcase this engine, so we can’t wait to drive it when Drive Life heads to the Karoq launch next month.

I hope this surprise pricing doesn’t mean that Skoda has lost its edge in the market. For the Karoq, Skoda New Zealand says, the car is “Running the risk of becoming New Zealand’s most oversubscribed SUV for 2018”. That’s bold claim for a compact SUV starting at $39K.

Also, according to the press release, Skoda aims to launch a new SUV every year until the EV SUV 2020. Let’s hope the brand continues to keep market share, and not at the expense of too many price increases.

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How on earth to start this? I've been car/bike/truck crazy since I was a teen. Like John, I had the obligatory Countach poster on the wall. I guess I'm more officially into classic and muscle cars than anything else - I currently have a '65 Sunbeam Tiger that left the factory the same day as I left the hospital as a newborn with my mother. How could I not buy that car? In 2016 my wife and I drove across the USA in a brand-new Dodge Challenger, and then shipped it home. You can read more on www.usa2nz.co.nz. We did this again in 2019 in a 1990 Chev Corvette - you can read about that trip on DriveLife. I'm also an Observer for the Institute of Advanced Motorists - trying to do my bit to make our roads safer.

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