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Skoda Kamiq Ambition 2022 review


Daily driver score

4/5

Urban score

4/5

In just a few years, Skoda's SUV line-up has increased from zero models to three. And with the Enyaq EV expected in the next year, that will soon rise to four.

Sitting at the bottom of the line-up is the Kamiq small SUV that, in just over a year, has developed a reputation as a solid, capable offering in a crowded segment.

The Volkswagen Group-owned Czech brand has repositioned the Kamiq line-up more than once since launch and last year Skoda lobbed a new entry variant, dubbed the Ambition.

But has the likeable model lost some of its sheen now it's no longer a circa-$25k bargain? Or is it still one of the top small SUV picks in Australia?

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

When the Kamiq launched in Australia in late 2020, the line-up started with the entry-level 85TSI manual from $26,990 before on-road costs. Given how much safety and other standard gear was packed in, it was seen as incredible value for money.

That variant – powered by a 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine – was dropped in 2021 and now the most affordable Kamiq is the recently added Ambition manual from $34,690 before on-road costs. 

Granted, it has a more powerful and responsive 110kW 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine – also found in a bunch of other VW Group products – but it's a big jump from the previous entry car.

The Kamiq comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels. (image: Tim Nicholson) The Kamiq comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels. (image: Tim Nicholson)

We tested the Ambition automatic which is priced from $35,690 before on-roads and for that you get cloth seats, 18-inch alloy wheels, tinted windows, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, a power tailgate, manually adjustable front seats, dual-zone air conditioning, keyless entry and start, and an umbrella in the driver's door – a clever Skoda signature.

UPDATE: The Kamiq 110TSI Ambition  has now been replaced by the Kamiq Style 85TSI, which was announced on May 5, 2022.

Tech-wise it has a fully digital instrument cluster, wireless phone-charging, 8.0-inch multimedia display with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a lengthy list of standard safety gear (see safety section below).

The Kamiq's 16-inch space-saver spare wheel is housed under the boot floor. (image: Tim Nicholson) The Kamiq's 16-inch space-saver spare wheel is housed under the boot floor. (image: Tim Nicholson)

But, it is missing some key features like a digital radio and satellite navigation. The former is not available on any Kamiq grade and the latter is standard on the flagship Signature, which is priced from $38,090, and it's part of an option pack on the mid-grade sports-focused Monte Carlo from $37,590.

We can maybe forgive the lack of sat nav, given an increasing number of people use phone-based maps, but the absence of digital radio is weird.

It's much less of a bargain than when it first launched.

In terms of rivals, the Mazda CX-30 starts at just under $30,000, the Kia Seltos starts from $27,290, while the Renault Arkana kicks off at $34,590.

As well as the two USB-C ports up front there’s a further two in the rear, as well as lower air vents, map pockets, grab handles and coat hooks. (image: Tim Nicholson) As well as the two USB-C ports up front there’s a further two in the rear, as well as lower air vents, map pockets, grab handles and coat hooks. (image: Tim Nicholson)

Is there anything interesting about its design?

The Kamiq is something of a contradiction in that it is visually appealing, yet conservative at the same time.

The standard Candy White paint of our test car probably didn't help the staid vibe.

But, there are elements – such as the split headlights with a crystal-like pattern of the daytime running lights, and the well-crafted rear end – that set the Kamiq apart.

  • But, there are elements – such as the split headlights with a crystal-like pattern of the daytime running lights. (image: Tim Nicholson) But, there are elements – such as the split headlights with a crystal-like pattern of the daytime running lights. (image: Tim Nicholson)
  • And the well-crafted rear end – that set the Kamiq apart. (image: Tim Nicholson) And the well-crafted rear end – that set the Kamiq apart. (image: Tim Nicholson)
  • These features and the signature grille leave no doubt that you’re driving a Skoda. (image: Tim Nicholson) These features and the signature grille leave no doubt that you’re driving a Skoda. (image: Tim Nicholson)

These features and the signature grille leave no doubt that you're driving a Skoda.

If you're after a more visually arresting Kamiq, check out the sporty looking Monte Carlo.

Inside, the design is again on the conservative European side. In fact, in Ambition grade at least, the Kamiq's cabin looks a little drab.

The cream headliner and a metal-look insert running the width of the dash breaks up the grey, and there are some interesting angles to the dash and door panels, but it all looks a bit generic.

Inside, the design is again on the conservative European side. In fact, in Ambition grade at least, the Kamiq’s cabin looks a little drab. (image: Tim Nicholson) Inside, the design is again on the conservative European side. In fact, in Ambition grade at least, the Kamiq’s cabin looks a little drab. (image: Tim Nicholson)

How practical is the space inside?

The cabin might look a little drab, but you'd be hard-pressed to fault the overall quality of the interior.

There are some hard plastics on the lower part of the dash but soft-touch materials on top. The Kamiq features a lovely flat-bottom, perforated leather steering wheel that feels nice to touch and has simple controls. However, the cruise control buttons are housed on a stalk on the left side of the steering column. It can be hard to see the controls on these secondary stalks which are often hidden behind the steering wheel and we don't know why carmakers insist on using them. Keep cruise controls on the steering wheel, please.

Tall folk will love the headroom in the Kamiq, and it's easy to find a good seating position but the front seats aren't super supportive. They could do with a little more thigh padding.

The cabin might look a little drab, but you’d be hard-pressed to fault the overall quality of the interior. (image: Tim Nicholson) The cabin might look a little drab, but you’d be hard-pressed to fault the overall quality of the interior. (image: Tim Nicholson)

The Kamiq's design ensures it is one of the best models in its class when it comes to visibility; there's plenty of glass and narrow pillars, meaning no obvious blind spots.

It features a small but deep central storage bin, a decent glove box, good space for big bottles (1.5L bottles, according to Skoda) and more in the front doors.

The configurable ‘Virtual Cockpit' digital instrument cluster is hard to fault. Although the system asks to hit the ‘OK' button to reset the trip computer, we could not locate an OK button anywhere on the steering wheel.

The 8.0-inch multimedia system has a logical menu and it houses functions for the driver-assist features and other vehicle functions.

There’s a surprising amount of occupant space in the rear, with plenty of legroom behind my 183cm (six foot) frame. (image: Tim Nicholson) There’s a surprising amount of occupant space in the rear, with plenty of legroom behind my 183cm (six foot) frame. (image: Tim Nicholson)

Annoyingly, the air conditioning controls are split between analogue switches and digital controls via the touchscreen. You can only adjust fan speed on the screen. Surely it makes more sense for this function to be either digital or analogue, not both?

There's a surprising amount of occupant space in the rear, with plenty of legroom behind my 183cm (six foot) frame, and acres of headroom.

As well as the two USB-C ports up front there's a further two in the rear, as well as lower air vents, map pockets, grab handles and coat hooks. Door storage is narrow and will only fit tiny bottles.

The rear seats fold 60/40 and there's no centre armrest.

  • At 400 litres it’s a decent-sized boot. At 400 litres it’s a decent-sized boot.
  • But it can’t match the Kia Seltos (468L). But it can’t match the Kia Seltos (468L).
  • Boot size increases to1395L with the rear seats folded. Boot size increases to1395L with the rear seats folded.

At 400 litres (1395L with the rear seats folded), it's a decent-sized boot, but it can't match the Kia Seltos (468L).

Being a Skoda, it has handy touches like a storage nook on the side of the cargo area, rubber mats, hooks for a luggage net and a solid cargo blind for added security.

The Kamiq's 16-inch space-saver spare wheel is housed under the boot floor.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

As mentioned, the Kamiq is no longer offered with an entry-level 1.0-litre three-pot unit. Instead, all variants are powered by VW Group's 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine delivering 110kW of power at 6000rpm and 250Nm of torque at 1500-3500rpm.

The Kamiq is front-wheel drive only and the Ambition is available with a six-speed manual gearbox and the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission offered as standard on all other grades.

All variants are powered by VW Group’s 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine delivering 110kW of power at 6000rpm and 250Nm of torque at 1500-3500rpm. (image: Tim Nicholson) All variants are powered by VW Group’s 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine delivering 110kW of power at 6000rpm and 250Nm of torque at 1500-3500rpm. (image: Tim Nicholson)

How much fuel does it consume?

According to Skoda, the official combined fuel-use figure for the automatic Kamiq is 5.6 litres per 100 kilometres. The manual is more frugal at 4.9L.

After a week of mixed but mostly urban driving, we recorded 8.5L/100km in the Ambition. That's quite a difference from the official figure.

In terms of CO2 emissions, the figure is 128g/km.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

The Kamiq is offered with a solid range of safety gear as standard.

Features like front and rear autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, multi-collision braking, a rain braking feature, reversing camera, rear parking sensors, automatic flashing brake lights in the case of an emergency, adaptive cruise control, tyre pressure monitor, driver attention alert, lane assist and more.

Blind spot detection and rear cross traffic alert are usually standard on the Monte Carlo Signature, but Skoda says these two features are not currently available as they are impacted by the global semiconductor shortage. These two items are not offered at all on the Ambition grade.

The Kamiq has a five-star ANCAP rating that was awarded in 2019. It has seven airbags but does not include a front centre airbag that is designed to reduce the risk of injury during a side impact.

On the road, the adaptive cruise control is a bit slow to respond when you pull out to overtake on a freeway, for example.

The lane keeping aid functions well for the most part but can sometimes tug on the wheel.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

Skoda offers a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty for the Kamiq.

The servicing schedule is every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever comes first.

The Czech brand offers customers two service packs for the Kamiq Ambition, including a five-year/75,000km term for $1500, or a seven-year/105,000km for $2100.

Skoda offers a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty for the Kamiq. (image: Tim Nicholson) Skoda offers a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty for the Kamiq. (image: Tim Nicholson)

What's it like to drive around town?

Prior to getting behind the wheel of the Kamiq Ambition, I was impressed by the former base Kamiq with the 1.0-litre engine, which I sampled shortly after it launched.

Now having driven the 1.5-litre version, I'm even more enamoured with the Kamiq.

It is quick off the mark, with the responsive 110kW engine providing a lot of urge. Previous-generation VW Group models with the brand's dual-clutch transmission (they call it a DSG) have a tendency to lag on take-off -  a combination of the jolty transmission and the turbocharger.

These days the lag is much more subtle and doesn't impact the responsiveness, certainly when it comes to the Kamiq. Even the idle-stop function lacks the delay found in older VW Group product.

The Kamiq is a star performer among its rivals when it comes to dynamics. (image: Tim Nicholson) The Kamiq is a star performer among its rivals when it comes to dynamics. (image: Tim Nicholson)

There is a bit of low-speed jerkiness caused by the transmission, but it's not a deal-breaker.

The Kamiq is a star performer among its rivals when it comes to dynamics. as well as super-sharp steering - typical of Skoda and VW models - it impresses when cornering, planting itself thanks to a balanced chassis, well-calibrated traction control and good tyres.

Road manners on loose surfaces are also hard to fault, and the Kamiq's cabin is relatively well insulated from outside noise.

The Kamiq's ride is mostly settled, particularly on urban streets, but the low-profile tyres and slightly firm suspension tune mean you will feel potholes and speed bumps. But again, not to the point of being a deal-breaker.

The Kamiq's entry price is much higher than when Skoda Australia launched the small SUV, and it is missing key features - some of which are a result of the semiconductor crisis and beyond the company's control.

It also proved a little thirstier than expected too, but for the most part, the Kamiq is a solid pick.

It is one of the most enjoyable small SUVs, of any price, to drive, with sharp dynamics and a willing turbocharged engine.

A spacious-for-the-segment cabin and top-notch tech add to the Kamiq's appeal.

$35,690

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

4/5

Urban score

4/5
Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.