Skoda Kamiq 85TSI 2021 road test review

Moving Well | Tim Nicholson | Posted on 07 June 2021

Tim Nicholson puts the new Skoda Kamiq small SUV to the test.

Last year yet another new nameplate arrived to tackle the burgeoning small SUV segment – the Skoda Kamiq. Closely related to the Volkswagen T-Cross, the Kamiq has a good chance of luring byers away from higher volume brands thanks to its strong mix of value, style and likeability.  

  • Thumbs up: Value for money, extensive standard in-car and safety tech, quirky Skoda touches, handling, spacious cabin.
  • Thumbs down: Dual-clutch transmission causes significant lag, overly enthusiastic lane keeping aid, busy ride, cabin noise. 

The Skoda Kamiq is one of the latest models to join the small SUV segment.


Skoda Kamiq 85TSI 2021 review

How much does the Skoda Kamiq cost? 

The Kamiq is the latest SUV added to Skoda’s model line-up, sitting below the Kodiaq large seven-seater and the medium Karoq. 

Pricing starts at $26,990 before on-road costs for the 85TSI with a six-speed manual. Opting for the dual-clutch auto adds $1000 to that price. The Monte Carlo adds some visual flair, more features and a more powerful 110kW four-cylinder engine and is priced at $34,190, while the Limited Edition tops the range at $35,490. 

The Volkswagen Group-owned Czech brand has always had value on its side, and the Kamiq is no exception. It’s offered with a very generous list of standard goodies, starting with the entry level Kamiq 85TSI we tested. 

It has the latest multimedia and safety gear as well as features you’d be hard pressed to find in similarly priced rivals, like privacy glass, ambient lighting, wireless charging, fully digital instrument cluster, a power tailgate and more. In keeping with the Skoda brand, it has quirky but handy touches, like an umbrella holder in the driver’s door. 

If you want heated seats, a fancier stereo or larger touchscreen then you could select one of option packs. But honestly, there is so much packed into the 85TSI we wouldn’t bother. The only option on our test car was premium paint ($550). 

Other light-small SUVs competing with the Kamiq include the Volkswagen T-Cross, Hyundai Kona, Mazda CX-3 or CX-30, Toyota Yaris Cross or C-HR, Honda HR-V and many more. 

What safety features does it have? 

The Kamiq comes with a 5-star ANCAP crash safety rating awarded in 2019 and it’s packed with the latest safety equipment and driver aids (see table). In base 85TSI guise it misses out on a blind spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert which are offered as part of the driver support option pack. 

The adaptive cruise slows and increases speed accurately, but the lane keeping aid can be aggressive. On freeways and other roads with clear line markings, it keeps the Kamiq centred in the lane. However, on poorly marked roads, it tends to pull the steering wheel to the side where the system detects the line. The VW T-Cross did something similar.  

Interior view of rear seats in Skoda Kamiq

Despite its small size, the rear seats in the Skoda Kamiq are surprisingly spacious.


What's the space like inside?

While it shares its VW Group MQB A0 platform with the VW T-Cross, it is larger inside, thanks to a longer wheelbase.  

This is most noticeable in the rear which is more spacious than expected. Legroom behind my six-foot tall driving position is impressive. The rear seats are nicely cushioned for comfort and rear occupants can access two USB-C ports, map pockets, air vents and smallish storage for bottles in the doors.  

Up front, the dash design is typical of VW Group – you wouldn’t call in minimalist but it’s far from fussy. It’s thoughtfully laid out, but the integrated touch screen of the T-Cross is a cleaner look than the Kamiq’s upright unit.  

Skoda’s well-executed multimedia setup has modern, appealing graphics and it’s easy to navigate. The only complaint is that some air conditioning controls are housed in the touch screen, while the temperature dials are located underneath. Why can’t it all be in one place? 

There’s a further two USB-C ports up front, and wireless charging. There’s ample room for large bottles in the doors, which makes up for the small central storage bin.  

In the 85TSI, the seats are covered in an eye-catching cloth fabric, and while the front seats are comfortable, they could do with a little more under-thigh bolstering.  

The rear windscreen is small but visibility is generally good.  

The power tailgate is a welcome standard feature on an entry-level small SUV. Typical Skoda additions include a handy luggage net and extra storage nooks.  

A space-saver spare tyre lives under the boot floor, making room for 400 litres of cargo space, increasing to 1395L with the rear seats folded. That’s more space than the T-Cross, CH-R and CX-3, but not as cavernous as the HR-V or Kia Seltos.  

How does it drive?

The Kamiq is one of a number of light-small SUVs powered by 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engines that have arrived in the past year or two. But the Skoda might be the most convincing of the lot. 

Acceleration from a standing start is decent, despite the lag caused by the turbocharger and the dual-clutch transmission. The stop-start system doesn’t help, and we turned it off every time we were behind the wheel. During parking manoeuvres, the dual clutch causes the Kamiq to roll a little before it works out what gear it’s in. 

The dual-clutch also produces a bit of jerkiness when accelerating at low speeds, but higher up the rev range on an open road is where the three-pot excels, offering punchy performance.  

In terms of dynamics, there are few rivals that can beat the Kamiq. Weighing just 1191kg, the nimble Kamiq is a joy to punt into corners, with the light, responsive steering adding to the experience. It pulls out of corners with ease and the well-calibrated suspension setup will have you hunting for winding roads.  

An 18-inch wheel and low-profile tyre combination usually makes for a harsh ride, but the Kamiq’s ride is on the comfortable side. It is, however, a little busy on uneven roads and can skip on loose surfaces.  

A tight turning circle only boosts the Kamiq’s credentials as a great city car.  

The cabin is generally quiet on urban streets, but noise starts to penetrate at higher speeds, regardless of the quality of the road surface.  

Skoda’s quoted combined fuel consumption figure is 5.0 litres per 100 kilometres. We finished the week with 7.3L/100km. 

The verdict

The Kamiq offers grin-worthy dynamics and performance, a practical interior, loads of kit and enough flair to outshine most of its rivals. Skoda has a winner on its hands. 

Skoda Kamiq 85TSI 2021

PRICING

List price: $27,990 before on-road costs.

Price as tested: $28,540 before on-road costs.

Model range: $26,990-$35,490 before on-road costs.

DRIVETRAIN

1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, front-wheel drive.

Power: 85kW@5500rpm.

Torque: 200Nm@2000-3500rpm.

Wheels: 215/45 R18.

FUEL

RON 95 ULP, 50-litre fuel tank.

Consumption:  5.0L/100km (government test), 7.3L/100km (RACV test).

Emissions: 113g/km CO2 emissions.

RON 95 ULP, 50-litre fuel tank, 5.0L/100km (government test), 7.3L/100km (RACV test), 113g/km CO2 emissions.  
STANDARD SAFETY

Five-star ANCAP safety rating, seven airbags, driver fatigue detection, lane-keeping aid, tyre pressure monitor, autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian and cyclist detection, rear AEB, multi-collision braking system, adaptive cruise control.

STANDARD FEATURES

Privacy glass, power tailgate, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, power, heated and foldable external mirrors, keyless entry and start, dual-zone air conditioning, wireless device charging, eight-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity, eight-speaker audio system. 

WARRANTY

Five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. Three or five-year capped-price servicing package. Servicing schedule every 12 months/15,000 kilometres.  

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