We drive the Skoda Kamiq Monte Carlo SUV in the UK with a new, more powerful petrol engine
4.0 out of 5
The Monte Carlo takes the Kamiq’s good bits and adds extra power and equipment, even if it’s pricier than lower-powered, mid-level models. They’re still where the sweet spot of the Kamiq range lies, but this smart and swift small SUV is a nice book-end that also looks great and offers the same level of practicality.
Skoda launched its Kamiq small SUV last year with what’s best described as a compact engine range, but now the Czech brand has added a more powerful (and pricier) 1.5-litre TSI petrol turbo unit.
It’s available on all but the base-spec Kamiq S, and we test it here as a top-spec Monte Carlo, with a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic gearbox for £26,600.
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That’s quite a bit of cash – some £2,695 more than a 1.0 TSI 115 manual model in the same trim level, in fact.
Still, Monte Carlo spec contains plenty of equipment. It’s a sporty trim, and the gloss black exterior detailing looks good, along with the standard 18-inch alloy wheels. There are also LED headlights, a panoramic roof, a digital dash and some sports seats.
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Otherwise, it has the same kit as SE L, so parking sensors, cruise control, a 9.2-inch touchscreen with nav, Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay are present. There’s also autonomous braking and blind-spot detection, plus dual-zone climate control.
The new engine is sourced from the VW Group, Skoda’s parent company, so it’s a known quantity and performs just as we expected. There’s a nice, linear power delivery with good torque (250Nm) that means you don’t have to rev it out too much to get on the move, but it does respond to a bit more aggression with the accelerator, even if the motor is noisier at higher revs.
The DSG transmission is the weak point. It’s fine when you drive gently at medium and higher speeds, but at low speed the shifts are a little laboured, while the clutch engagement is jerky when pulling away, which can make manoeuvring and parking not quite as smooth as it should be.
This is the only gripe with how the Skoda drives, because the steering is light, and the Kamiq handles with a good degree of precision for a small SUV.
Despite its higher ride height there’s not too much roll, but there’s also enough compliance in the suspension that, on 18-inch wheels, the ride is comfortable.
Boot capacity still stands at 400 litres, and even with those chunkier sports seats, there’s still decent legroom in the rear. The tall, square roofline also means headroom is good, and the higher ride height will make it easier to place children in car seats than in a lower-riding family hatch.
Skoda claims that the Kamiq, when equipped with the DSG gearbox, will do between 38.2 and 43.5mpg. When you put that into context (a 1.0 TSI 115 manual model returns 42.8 and 47.1mpg) it’s not too much of a penalty for the extra performance and automatic gearbox.
|Model:||Skoda Kamiq 1.5 TSI 150 DSG Monte Carlo|
|Engine:||1.5-litre 4cyl turbo petrol|
|Transmission:||Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, front-wheel drive|
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