Welcome to the latest in Skoda’s range, the Kamiq. And guess what? It’s an SUV. A crossover to be precise. This is of course no surprise as SUVs are selling like hot cakes. The question is, is this all you need for the family car?

We drove a top-spec Monte Carlo model for a week to find out.

The Range

There are three models of Kamiq, starting with the $30,990 Ambition which has a 1.0-litre 3-cylinder turbo engine and makes 85kW of power and 200Nm of torque driving the front wheels via a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Standard spec includes front, side, curtain and driver knee airbags, keyless start, cruise control, lane assist and auto emergency braking, LED headlights, auto lights and wipers, power heated mirrors, rear parking sensors, manual aircon, 8-speaker audio, 6.5” central touchscreen, and 16” alloys. 

Next is the Ambition+ at $36,990 with a 1.5-litre 4-cylinder turbo making 110kW and 250Nm. You also get KESSY keyless entry, dual-zone climate control, red ambient interior lighting, 8” central touch screen, 17” alloys.

Finally we have the Monte Carlo, tested here, at $42,990 with the same engine and transmission as the Ambition + but adding Drive mode selection with adaptable suspension, adaptive cruise control, side assist and rear traffic alert, bi-LED adaptive headlights with cornering function, auto-dimming power-folding side mirrors, front parking sensors, tinted rear windows, panoramic glass roof, carbon and chrome interior decoration, sports steering wheel with shifter paddles, split-folding rear seat, sports seats, 9.2” touch screen with satnav, and 18” alloys.

There are twelve colours available; solid white, red, blue and grey, and in metallic we have black, white, grey, silver, and some nice bright colours – Race Blue, Rallye Green, Velvet Red, and finally, crystal black. The last two are $1000 extra.

First Impressions

Our review car, sporting the plate KAMIQ, came in Corrida Red. The Monte Carlo version has all-black details, no chrome. I think in this combination it looks fantastic. With LED headlights as standard it’s able to have smaller light units than cars with halogens, giving it a quite different front-end look.

Those 17” black and silver wheels really work too. Being a crossover it’s taller, but not too tall and I think the proportions look great. It’s a handsome looking car.

The Inside

The Monte Carlo front seats really make an impression, they were the first thing most people commented on. They look excellent with their integrated headrest, deep side bolsters, and carbon and red highlights. Very sporty, and the rears match well. Sometimes manufacturers put all the work into the front seats and kinda forget the rears. I had no trouble finding a good driving position and it was comfortable on longer runs.

The dash is a pretty clean design with that huge 9.5” touch screen in the centre. Below the screen are knobs for the dual-zone aircon, and buttons for front and rear demisters. Everything else is done via the menus in the touch screen. The Kamiq Monte Carlo has Volkswagen Group’s excellent Virtual Cockpit system, which we first saw in high-end Audis. This is a fully configurable digital driver’s display, and it’s excellent. It has several different main layouts, from a single central speedo, to the classic dual-dials, to a full-screen colour satnav map, to the minimal all-black with just digital speedo and range in the bottom corners. This last would be great for night driving.

Each display can be configured to your requirements using the buttons and scroll wheel on the right of the steering wheel. There are lots of options and you’re sure to find one that suits. It’s a very clear high-contrast display that looks great in all lights. 

On the left of the steering wheel are controls for stereo volume and track skip, which are intuitive and comfortable to use. Skoda has chosen to put the radar cruise settings on a third stalk on the lower left, which is easy enough to use once you get the hang of it, and saves another 6 or so steering wheel buttons, though personally I prefer buttons. The wheel itself is great; flat-bottomed with red stitching, and covered with perforated leather, giving it both a sporty look and feel. 

There are two USB-C ports in the front as well as a traditional power socket. A standard USB adapter is included. Next to the sockets is a good-sized cubby there for your phone or wallet. No wireless charging though, which would have been nice to have. There’s a flip-up central arm rest with a small storage cubby underneath. Rear passengers get their own aircon vent and two more USB-C ports. Leg room in the rear is very good for a car this size.

Sitting in the back seat allows you to fully appreciate the full glass roof on the Kamiq. It’s an $1800 option on lower models but standard on the Monte Carlo. It has a dark tint from outside to protect you from the sun, and there’s an electric blind to cover it over on really sunny days. It’s a long blind and seems to take aaages to open and close. In fact it’s 15 seconds, I timed it!

Despite the glass roof, headroom is excellent in all seats.

Moving to the rear, there’s a good-sized 400-litre boot, expanding to 1395 litres with the seats folded. It’s quite deep and there’s a biggish lip at the back. It contains the usual array of little touches that Skoda like to add – bag hooks (small and larger fold-down), a boot light that pops out to be a rechargeable torch, luggage net, tie-down loops, usable side bins, and a full-sized steel spare wheel underneath.

There’s also the other nice Skoda touches – ice scraper in the petrol flap, umbrella in the driver’s door, ticket clip on the windscreen, felt-lined door bins. And you get the Skoda Connect app which connects the car to your phone and can perform various convenience functions. All little things that make the car a little nicer to own.

All in all the interior feels good – more premium than previous Skodas, although you can find some scratchy plastics if you look for them.

The Drive

I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised by the way the Kamiq drives. A lot of the current crop of crossover SUVs are perfectly good cars, but don’t have much to make them stand out from all of the rest. The first time I set off in the Skoda, it surprised me as it felt more eager and perky than I expected from the little 110kW turbo 4. I checked the drive mode setting to make sure it wasn’t in Sport, and it was definitely in its normal mode. Added to that, the steering is very quick, and very light, making the car seem more nimble and maneuverable than most of its peers. A great start!

The Kamiq has a 7-speed DSG dual-clutch transmission, and most of the time it shifts so quickly and smoothly that you don’t notice. There are the usual quirks – occasional low-speed jerky shifts, and it can take a fraction longer than you expect to go into reverse. But these are just normal DSG things and are easy to adjust to.

In traffic, the Kamiq is easy to get along with. It has blind spot monitoring with good-sized, but not too bright, lights in the inner side of the mirror housings. It also has smart cruise control which can come to a complete stop, but for some reason if it’s stopped for more than about 5 seconds it beeps then disengages the cruise. The car then starts to creep forward towards the car in front. Most systems, including other VAG brands, enable you to resume with the stalk or a tap of the accelerator so it’s strange that Skoda’s system works differently.

The Kamiq also has VAG’s typically over-eager engine stop/start system which often turns the engine off when you’re still doing about 3-5km/h. Not a problem if you’re actually planning to stop but occasionally it’ll activate when you don’t want it to, giving an awkward engine stop then slightly jerky immediate start. Not great.

The Kamiq Monte Carlo comes with several drive modes – Eco, Normal, Sport and Individual. Eco does what you’d expect and softens the throttle to encourage more efficient starts. Normal, as I’ve noted, is surprisingly quick-feeling, and Sport tightens things up a bit further, including the steering weight and suspension. Individual, as you’d expect, lets you tinker with each setting as you wish.

On one of my favourite twisty roads I put the Kamiq into Sport, manual shifting, music off, aircon on (I’m not an animal), and pointed the Kamiq at a few corners. And you know what, it was almost fun! Actually I’m being facetious there, it is very competent on a twisty road, with little body roll, combined with a very good ride quality. It turns in well and can really move, for a small crossover. It made me smile more than expected, and that engine makes quite a nice noise when pushed. Those sports seats showed their worth too.

In normal use, the Kamiq is a very quiet, smooth, comfortable, and generally pleasant driving experience. The longer I spent time with it, the more I really liked it and began to think that maybe this is all the car you need, for a small family.

Over the time I had it, I averaged 6.9l/100km compared to the quoted figure of 5.8, but around 70% of my driving was in the city so I think that’s pretty good.

Negatives? Not many, really. I did note that the sound made when you shut the front doors is more of a clang than a thunk. A little thing but it does affect the perception of quality. And the stereo, it’s pretty average. Not bad, but not great either. Certainly nothing I couldn’t live with.

The Competition

Brand/ModelEnginePower (kW)/Torque (Nm)Fuel, L/100km (claimed)SeatsBoot Space, LitresTowing Capacity, KgPrice Highest to Lowest
Volkswagen Tiguan TSI R-Line1.4 litre 4-cylinder110/2506.856151800$54,490
Citroen C5 Aircross Shine1.6-litre 4-cylinder133/2507.955801500$53,990
Peugeot 3008 GT-Line1.6-litre 4-cylinder turbo121/2407.35591$52,990
Hyundai Tucson GDi Elite1.6-litre turbo 4-cylinder130/2657.754881600$52,990
Seat Ateca FR2-litre turbo 4-cylinder140/3206.954851900$51,900
Mazda CX-30 Limited2.5-litre 4-cylinder139/2006.8 54221200$50,990 
Jeep Compass Limited2.4 litre 4 cylinder129/2299.751000$46,990
Kia Seltos Limited AWD2.0-litre 4-cylinder130/2657.654331250$46,990
Toyota RAV4 Limited2.0-litre 4-cylinder127/2036.05580800$46,490
Skoda Kamiq Monte Carlo1.5-litre 4-cylinder turbo110/2505.554001250$42,990
Hyundai KonaGDi Elite AWD1.6 litre turbo 4-cylinder130/2656.753611250$42,990
Subaru XV Premium2 litre 4-cylinder115/1967.053101400$42,490
Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross VRX AWD1.5-litre 4-cylinder turbo112/2547.753741600$40,990
Honda HR-V Sport NT1.8-litre 4-cylinder105/1726.95437800$40,990
Toyota C-HR Limited Hybrid1.8 litre 4-cylinder72/1424.35318$39,390

The pros and cons

ProsCons
Great seats
Virtual Cockpit
Panoramic Roof
Perky, eager performance
Ride comfort
Handles well
Average stereo
Cruise control quirks
Over-eager stop/start
Small central storage cubby

What we think

I really enjoyed the Kamiq Monte Carlo, it’s a great-sized small family car with some premium features that even a couple of years ago would be reserved for top-spec Audis. There’s room for the kids, dog and some luggage. The driving experience is better than most crossovers I’ve driven too.

It looks good, feels good inside, and has a five-year warranty. This top-spec Kamiq should be on your shortlist of crossovers to check out.

Vehicle TypeSmall SUV
Starting Price$42,990 plus on-road costs
Tested Price$42,990 plus on-road costs
Engine1.5-litre 4-cylinder turbo intercooled petrol
Power kW / Torque Nm110/250
Transmission7-speed DSG auto
0 – 100 kph, seconds8.4
Spare WheelFull-sized spare
Kerb Weight, Kg1197
Length x Width x Height, mm4241 x 1988 x 1553
Cargo Capacity, litres400 seats up
1395 seats folded
Fuel Tank, litres50
Fuel Efficiency Advertised Spec – Combined – 5.8 L / 100km
Real World Test – Combined – 6.9 L / 100km
Low Usage: 0-6 / Medium Usage 6-12 / High Usage 12+
Towing630 kg unbraked
1250 kg braked
Turning circle10m
Small: 6-10m / Medium 10-12m / Large 12m+
Warranty5 years or 150,000km
ANCAP Rating5 stars

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