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Think an SUV with a powerful petrol engine would be a bonkers company car choice? Not necessarily.
Having sampled left-hand drive versions of the Kamiq at the international launch, our first UK encounter is with the 150hp petrol variant.
Standard equipment on SE:
17in alloy wheels, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, black roof rails, 8in touchscreen with Apple Carplay (wireless) and Android Auto, cruise control, electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors, autonomous emergency braking, lane assist, LED headlights with LED daytime running lights, LED rear lights, automatic headlights, automatic wipers, air conditioning, manual driver's seat lumbar support, rear parking sensors.
More than a decade since the idea of SUVs as family cars really started to take hold, many mainstream manufacturers have standardised around a three model line-up: small (Nissan Juke, Peugeot 2008), medium (Qashqai, 3008), and large (X-Trail, 5008). Skoda completed its own version of this trio late last year, when the Kamiq arrived to sit beneath the larger Karoq and Kodiaq.
We previously sampled the model with diesel power under the bonnet, but for our first UK drive we have got the keys to a Kamiq with the most powerful engine in the range, a 150hp petrol. This might not seem like the obvious fleet choice, but it comes with cylinder deactivation technology, which can shut down two of the engine's four-cylinders when cruising. This means that in fact on official CO2 emissions tests, this engine scores almost as well as the less powerful 115hp and 95hp petrols that are also available, often in the same BIK tax band, while on fuel economy it only loses out by one or two mpg. It does have a more serious mpg deficit compared with the diesel; however, taking into account the 4% diesel surcharge, it is a whole four BIK bands better on CO2. In addition to all this, the 150hp petrol offers punchy performance capable of taking the Kamiq from 0-62mph in just over eight seconds, and impressive levels of refinement.
The engine is available with a seven-speed, DSG, automatic gearbox, but as tested here comes with a six-speed manual. A benefit of this is you can get at the power immediately, without the slight delay when pulling away that we have found before with VW Group DSGs, but on the downside the gearchange action isn't very slick, making it something of a chore to use.
Despite having the most powerful engine available, the Kamiq tested here does without the optional Sport Chassis Control, and there is a bit of roll in corners, but nothing untoward for a car of this type. It is disappointing, however, that this isn't compensated for in ride comfort, which most of the time is reasonable but no more than that, and can get a bit rough on uneven roads.
As you would expect with the mid-range SE equipment grade tested here, interior materials aren't the last word in luxury, but certainly feel durable enough. Silver dashboard trim brightens things up a bit, and the leather steering wheel feels like a quality item. There is manual air conditioning rather than full climate control, but wireless Apple Carplay (and wired Android Auto) connectivity to the standard touchscreen mean most drivers will feel well catered for in terms of essential tech.
Having mentioned earlier the role of SUVs as family transport, it is worth noting that even grown-up kids should be happy in the back, where, despite this being Skoda's smallest SUV, there is lots of leg and headroom. Not quite as stand-out is the boot, which, while perfectly adequate at 400 litres, is a bit smaller than those found in rivals such as the Juke, 2008, and the new Ford Puma. But overall the Kamiq is a car that doesn't do a lot wrong, and in this spec allows drivers a bit of extra shove under their right foot without breaking the bank.