The mid-sized SUV space is, in 2020, more diverse than ever. After all, it consists of the Kia Seltos and Hyundai Creta along with the Renault Duster and Nissan Kicks at the lower end, with cars like the Jeep Compass in the higher-end of the spectrum. And let’s not even talk about the MG Hector and Tata Harrier, both of which while sitting in this space are more in comparison in size with full-size SUVs.
Sure, picking an SUV has never been an easier task, and with such fierce competition, especially in a single segment, it’s become rather gruelling too. The newest entrants in this space are the Volkswagen T-Roc and Skoda Karoq, both of which, as you may have guessed by now, are cousins but, let me assure you this, are very different than one another.
After all, we’ve seen sloppy rebadging jobs with the Glanza and Urban Cruiser earlier this year. But the German siblings – they’re German on the root level – are quite different from one another. In fact, these are so different that they are even priced very differently. But what still calls for this comparison is how different they are in real life from one another. And if the Skoda Karoq, which is priced relatively higher than the Volkswagen T-Roc is worth the stretch for your wallet.
In this heavily packed mid-sized SUV space, both these SUVs stand out. The Volkswagen T-Roc goes the extra distance with its slightly quirky design, replete with a low-set front end and steeply raked rear windscreen. And in the yellow shade, in which Volkswagen is marketing this car, it really looks stunning. However, even with all the sharp detailing, the T-Roc looks more like a crossover – a hatchback on stilts, if I may – rather than an SUV, which might be a deal-breaker for some.
The Skoda Karoq, on the other hand, looks a bit more elegant and less quirky than the Volkswagen cars. It is also a wee bit larger than the Volkswagen, and it will certainly appear as a much more valuable proposition to India’s bigger is better buyers.
Stepping inside, the extra dimensions of the Karoq make for a very spacious cabin inside. Helping the SUV’s cabin to look a bit airier is the use of beige upholstery for the seats and the lower area of the dashboard. Sitting in the middle of the dashboard is an 8.0-inch unit with all the necessary bells and whistles. While both the cars miss out on the currently trending connected car tech, both come with a fully-digital instrument cluster, which makes them a bit more special than their head-on rivals.
The T-Roc has a tighter cabin, which results in a bit less space than the Karoq. But if you’re one sitting on the front seat, you’ll like this own more given the sporty all-black theme of the dashboard combined with grey and black leatherette seats. Both cars also get panoramic sunroof to help the cabin feel a bit airier, but the Karoq, hands down, wins in the space department. It also has a bigger boot than the T-Roc.
Both cars share the same platform and mechanicals. Therefore, loosely translated, both the cars are powered by the same engine and should be very similar to drive. The engine in question here is a 1.5-litre four-cylinder TSI gasoline unit, which is capable of churning out 148bhp and 250Nm of torque. It is mated to a 7-speed DSG gearbox on both the SUVs.
We’ve tested both the cars side-by-side and it’s the T-Roc that feels a bit tighter around the corners and stiffer around the bumps, while the Karoq is simply a bit more liveable in this aspect. It may not have the tight handling, but it, too, feels confident around corners and has a more absorbable suspension setup.To put it simply, it’s the T-Roc that you should pick if you’re looking for a sporty SUV that demands a second look and drives very well. The Skoda cars, on the other hand, excels in every other department but is a bit pricier as opposed to the Volkswagen T-Roc.