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ŠKODA Kamiq Monte Carlo review

Small SUVs are a favourite among drivers in the UK – and the ŠKODA Kamiq is ready to make its mark.

The ŠKODA Kamiq Monte Carlo

The ŠKODA Kamiq Monte Carlo

Almost every automaker is producing small SUVs nowadays.

Usually called ‘crossovers’, there are so many of them on the roads that it’s heavily diluting the traditional market leader, the family hatchback.

The point of the crossover is that you get the best of both worlds: the sought-after bigger feel of an SUV while retaining the general shape and practicality of a hatchback.

The Kamiq is the smallest SUV ŠKODA makes, although it’s slightly larger than the SEAT Arona and the Volkswagen T-Cross, which share the same underpinnings.

That should give the Kamiq the edge when it comes to practicality, then.

Looks-wise, the Kamiq is pleasant enough without setting the world alight, although it certainly looks more aggressive in Monte Carlo trim, which is what we’re testing.

It features blacked-out elements, including the grille, part of the alloy wheels, the door mirrors, window surrounds and the roof rails.

There are three lower trims, too, with the entry-level SE receiving 17-inch alloys, an eight-inch infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and a digital radio. It also gets electrically adjustable door mirrors, automatic windscreen wipers and a leather steering wheel.

The SE Drive acquires tinted windows and upgrades the infotainment to a 9.2-inch Amundsen sat nav screen with gesture control. Meanwhile, the SE L Executive gets a 10.25-inch virtual cockpit screen, larger 18-inch rims, keyless entry/go, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats and power-folding door mirrors.

The Monte Carlo grade adds LED front and rear lights, a panoramic glass roof, red and black sports seats and the previously mentioned distinctive exterior look, which sets it apart from the other trims.

A trio of petrol units are offered, although the entry-level 1.0-litre 95PS engine, which is only available with a five-speed manual gearbox, isn’t obtainable with the Monte Carlo trim.

There is also a 1.0-litre 110PS variant available, along with a 1.5-litre power unit producing 150PS. Both engines come with a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.

The Monte Carlo, under review here, boasts 150 horses and the seven-speed automatic, both of which provide smooth performance and feel more refined than the other engines. But this much poke in a small crossover seems excessive.

The 95PS entry-level unit has plenty to offer if most of your journeys will be in stop-start traffic, while the 110PS is a decent middle-ground which will likely suit most consumers.

While 150PS is nice, the Kamiq is a comfortable cruiser and features one of the most absorbing suspension setups in its class.

As a result, though, it doesn’t feature the keen handling the Monte Carlo edition’s sportier looks hint towards.

It is fine for everyday use, but if you think buying the athletic-looking model will translate to improved cornering ability, you’ll be mistaken.

The Kamiq is effortless and soothing to drive, but if you want a sportier car, there are better options to go with the energetic appearance.

As for the interior, it looks nice, but it's a step down from more luxurious brands, although the build quality is good.

The limited use of brighter colours makes it feel dingy, even though you get some nice red trim on the Monte Carlo’s seats.

The steering wheel looks nice, and the layout has a reasonably modern vibe, but nothing feels markedly futuristic.

Thinking of making the switch to electric?

On the other hand, ŠKODA’s infotainment system is pretty good, offering crisp graphics and an intuitive menu layout, but it can feel a little sluggish sometimes.

The top two trims get the virtual cockpit, which replaces analogue dials with a digital instrument screen. It is friendly and informative, incorporating the sat nav map on its display when the system is active.

The voice control system called ‘Laura’ makes adjusting things simpler, although it’s not always 100% accurate when interpreting commands.

Practicality-wise, the driving position isn’t high, but the seats are comfortable and finding an ideal seating position is straightforward. Adjustable lumbar support is offered as standard on the top two trims.

There is plenty of headroom and legroom in both the front and the back, and visibility out of the front is good as the pillars are relatively thin. Meanwhile, rear parking sensors are included as standard throughout the range.

The Monte Carlo edition also has a rear-view camera.

There are plenty of cubbies to store things in the cabin, and a useful optional extra adds some pull-out drawers underneath the front seats.

The boot capacity is 400 litres, expanding to 1,395 litres with the rear seats folded down, although they only fold in a 60/40 configuration. Meanwhile, a height-adjustable boot floor is offered to get rid of the load lip.

A figure of 47mpg is claimed in the 150PS engine of the Monte Carlo, emitting 137g/km of CO2.

That compares with 46-49mpg (130-139g/km of CO2) of the 110PS unit, depending on trim and transmission, and 51mpg (125g/km of CO2) with the 95PS engine.

ŠKODA is a reliable brand nowadays, and the Kamiq is a safe car, having earned a five-star rating when tested by Euro NCAP in 2019. It scored 96% for adults, 85% for children and 76% for safety assists, which include automatic emergency braking and tyre pressure monitoring.

You also get hill hold control, while technology including lane-keep assist, is available on higher models, along with various features offered as optional extras.

Overall, the ŠKODA Kamiq is an excellent little car that offers family-friendliness and practicality in abundance.

The Monte Carlo trim looks nice, but the car’s characteristics are at odds with its sporty looks.

On the plus side, it has a pleasant interior, a smooth transmission, a comfortable ride, and plenty of space inside.

If you keep your spec sensible and resist the enormous variety of options, you’re on to a winner – especially, if you’re willing to wait for bargains, given there’s a facelifted version on the way soon.

Fast facts – ŠKODA Kamiq [Monte Carlo trim, 1.5 TSI] as tested:

• Max speed: 136mph

• 0-62 mph: 8.5secs

• Fuel economy: 51.4-55.4mpg

• Engine layout: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine

• Max. power (PS): 150PS

• CO2: 137g/km

• Price: £40,110

About the Author

By Tim Barnes-Clay

Tim Barnes-Clay is a freelance motoring journalist. He test-drives the latest cars and attends new vehicle press launches worldwide.