Czech out this beauty: Skoda's new smaller SUV the Karoq is tasteful and ultra-safe, says RAY MASSEY

  • The Karoq is the smallest SUV in Skodas range, replacing the outgoing Yeti
  • Prices start from £20,875, making it one of the most affordable compact SUVs
  • The new model will be on sale in the UK from mid-January
  • We had an early drive in the car to find out what it's like before you can order it 

As we accelerate into the New Year, some lucky people will be taking delivery of the latest SUV from the name that's seen arguably the biggest turnaround in a generation. 

Arriving on British driveways from mid-January will be the new Skoda Karoq SUV.

This family friendly, flexible five-seater looks and acts the business both inside and out and is a joy to drive, with a bold and stylish exterior and a smart, but unfussy, interior with tasteful lighting.

Ray's verdict: Family friendly, flexible five-seater looks and acts the business both inside and out and is a joy to drive

Ray's verdict: Family friendly, flexible five-seater looks and acts the business both inside and out and is a joy to drive

The Czech company's renaissance since the collapse of the Soviet bloc nearly 30 years ago, when it was acquired by Volkswagen, has been stunning. Today it vacuums up all manner of awards.

The Karoq, named after an indigenous Alaskan tribe, is the smart successor to the successful Yeti off-roader. It's the smaller sibling of the Kodiaq 4x4, which takes its name from the island home of the Karoq people.

Prices start at £20,875 for the SE, one of three trim levels. The SE L model costs from £23,165 23 and the top-of-the-range Edition model is priced from £27,110.

Alloy wheels, privacy glass, LED rear lights, dual-zone climate control, front assist, pedestrian monitor and driver fatigue sensor are standard features fitted across the range.

I drove the range-topping Edition, powered by a 1.5 litre TSI 150 bhp petrol engine linked to a seven speed automatic gearbox. 

Sitting on 19-in alloy wheels, it's a smooth and engaging drive and nimble around town with light steering.

It can go from rest to 62 mph in 8.6 seconds with a top speed of 126mph. 

It claims fuel efficiency of 50.4mpg and CO2 emissions of 127g/km. 

Other engine options are a 1-litre petrol, and two 1.6 and 2-litre diesel injection variants.

The car is safe, too, recently achieving the top 5-star score in the EURONCAP crash tests.

Dog in boot: Plenty of room for ALL the family in Skoda's new SUV

Dog in boot: Plenty of room for ALL the family in Skoda's new SUV

Chores around town: Practical and safe family option

Chores around town: Practical and safe family option

Old favourites are disappearing from our roads

Many popular cars from past decades are on the verge of disappearing, according to a review of vehicles that are being used on the road.

The survival rate of the best-selling cars from 25 years ago is less than one per cent as scores of family favourites follow retail giants such as Woolworths into oblivion, says website Honest John Classics.

Recent forgotten models include the Citroen Saxo, Vauxhall Cavalier and Rover 400.

In the Britpop boom, the Mk5 Ford Escort was Britain’s best-selling car with 122,002 sold in 1993 — but now just 460 are left on the road, a survival rate of 0.37 per cent.

The second place Mk3 Ford Fiesta sold 110,449, but now just 435 exist; a survival rate of 0.39 per cent

Movie fans get ready for Fast and Furious Live

Fans of the high-octane thrills of the Fast & Furious blockbuster films, with stars such as Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez, get set for the live arena version which has its world premiere on January 19 at the O2, London, part of a world tour, taking in 23 cities in 14 European countries including the UK. Details at www.fastandfuriouslive.com

I pledge...to stop tailgating and learn to park

The next generation of drivers has been probing the bad habits of their parents and grandparents.

A survey of more than 1,000 current drivers by Young Driver (youngdriver.com), Britain’s largest pre-17 driving school, highlighted their new year resolutions.

One in seven (13 per cent) resolved to switch off their mobile when driving.

Some 11 per cent pledged to stop checking messages at traffic lights to speed less, and 8 per cent to stop using their handset, while 9 per cent pledged to be more courteous to other road users, including cyclists and pedestrians.

One in 20 (5 per cent) promised not ‘tailgate’ the car in front.

The survey also revealed that motorists’ top six New Year resolutions are to regularly check oil and tyres (24 per cent), learn how to properly parallel park (17 per cent), conquer fear of driving on motorways (16 per cent), get better at reversing (15 per cent), avoid road rage (14 per cent), and perfect reversing into a parking bay (13 per cent).

Pre-17 driving school: A youngster behind the wheel at a Young Driver lesson

Pre-17 driving school: A youngster behind the wheel at a Young Driver lesson

New year celebration for car fans

See in the New Year with automotive indulgence at Brooklands. The racing circuit and museum at Weybridge, Surrey, hosts Britain’s largest New Year’s Day gathering of classic cars.

More than 1,000 vehicles and owners are expected. Details at: www.brooklandsmuseum.com

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