Skoda fills in the last gap in its crossover puzzle with the B-segment Kamiq. And it's a typically excellent Skoda: reserved and not hugely exciting, but somehow thoroughly likeable and wonderfully polished in all departments. Unless you absolutely cannot live without two-tone exterior paint jobs and a sense of youthful buzz, there are few things in this class better than the Kamiq.
In the Metal:
You could probably have guessed how the Skoda Kamiq would look, given the precursors in the form of the Karoq and the Kodiaq, but it has some identifying features of its own - like separate LED daytime running lights and main lamp clusters, and the Skoda name in large, widely spaced lettering on the boot lid. Overall, the styling of the bodywork is crisp, clean and nicely understated. It is also, perhaps, a little bit sedate in a more youth-oriented market where contrast roofs, bright alloys and side decals are all seen as desirables, while it looks strangely disproportionate in profile because it has the longest wheelbase in class (2,651mm) in a body that is only 4,241mm long from tip to tail, leading to very short front and rear overhangs. But it's certainly a pleasingly handsome shape all told.
The interior is marvellous. The long wheelbase and a body width of 1,793mm combine to bless this with one of Skoda's hallmarks: a big passenger compartment. It's not quite massive enough to transcend classes as does, for instance, the Skoda Superb, but the Kamiq is easily more commodious and pleasant to sit in the back of as a tall(ish) adult than anything else in the B-segment crossover class that we can think of. Chuck in a 400-litre boot, with a useful reversible floor mat (rubber one side, carpet the other), and 60:40 split rear seats that can increase the cargo capacity to 1,395 litres, and it looks like the Skoda has the practicality thing licked.
But it's also the quality that delights. There are analogue dials on base models and infotainment screens as small as 6.5 inches, yet many models will get the 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster and 9.2-inch Amundsen satnav/infotainment display, which makes the Skoda feel upmarket and classy. This supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, while an e-SIM ensures the Kamiq is 'always online'. There's plenty of standard fit safety equipment and driver-assist systems, with the option to fit more, and some of Skoda's 'Simply Clever' touches (door-edge protectors, an umbrella in the door, a torch in the boot and more) serve to make the Skoda's cabin one of the best in the small-crossover business.
There will be three engines in the Kamiq, all familiar from the Scala line-up with which the Skoda crossover shares so much. There's a 1.0-litre, three-cylinder, turbocharged petrol TSI unit, a larger 1.5-litre, four-cylinder TSI and then a 1.6-litre TDI, this being a four-cylinder turbocharged mill.
The 1.0-litre engine is available with either 95hp/175Nm and a five-speed manual gearbox only, or as a brawnier 115hp/200Nm version with a six-speed manual as standard, or a seven-speed DSG automatic as the cost option. The TDI matches the TSI's 115hp peak power but adds 250Nm to proceedings, with the same gearbox choices as well. All Kamiqs are front-wheel drive, as there are none with torque going to the rear axle.
Skoda predicts that the 1.0-litre 115hp will be the big seller in almost all markets, with a reasonably even split on whether customers go for the manual or the DSG transmission. And the good news is that the TSI is easily the sweeter choice for the smallest Skoda crossover, when compared to the TDI. The petrol three-cylinder is just so smooth from idle to redline and it's almost inaudible at 5,500-6,000rpm, which is incredible given it's not necessary to rev it out to such high levels.
Performance is adequate, rather than pacey, but with a sub-ten-second 0-100km/h time and good midrange responsiveness, it's a lovely engine to deal with. Shame it has such preposterously long gears, because you can be on a twisting mountain road and never need anything but second, but as that's a corollary of emissions laws these days there's not an awful lot Skoda can do about it.
One of the reasons you can barely hear that 1.0-litre engine at higher revs is the refinement of the Kamiq. It's just lovely to travel in. Tyre roar and wind noise are minimal, which speaks volumes about the sound-deadening Skoda has stuffed into the crossover, and so for mooching around towns or cruising along open roads or motorways, the Kamiq is - once again - as good as, if not better than, anything else in this class.
That it's not the most rewarding thing to drive quickly, then, is neither here nor there. It's not as sparkling to steer as a SEAT Arona, but nor is the Kamiq utterly bereft of interest. A lack of scruffy understeer, lots and lots of grip and nicely weighted, progressive steering all ensure you can maintain a tidy clip in the Skoda crossover, even if you are highly unlikely to be grinning broadly while you're doing so.
What you get for your Money:
We're still waiting for quite a lot of details on the Kamiq to be confirmed - the 1.5-litre 150hp model isn't yet ready for market, while prices/specs and economy/emissions figures for the rest of the Skoda's range haven't yet been confirmed. We'd expect it to be a little cheaper than a Volkswagen T-Cross, which starts at €22,495, and to have generous kit across the board; trims should run Active, Ambition and then Style.
The Skoda Kamiq is a 'classic' modern Skoda: it's confident and competent and admirably restrained, yet it's appealing enough in most departments that you don't immediately dismiss it as boring and soulless. It's one of the most grown-up, understated vehicles in the class and so it's perhaps not going to be the first choice for a buyer after flashy visuals and a wealth of personalisation, but if you want a B-segment crossover with a cracking drivetrain, acres of interior space, high-quality fixtures and fittings and a decent equipment list to back it all up, we can't think of many better things than the Kamiq 1.0 TSI.