2021 Skoda Kamiq 110TSI MONTE CARLO owner review

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Review written by:
Aaron Dominguez
PROS
  • Great cabin and cargo space
  • Fantastic level of standard equipment
  • High-tech feel
CONS
  • Lacks an electric handbrake
  • Missing adjustable boot floor
  • Trade off in equipment between Monte Carlo and Limited Edition

About the Skoda Kamiq

Aaron Dominguez purchased this Skoda Kamiq new with additional options for $40,070 (including all on-road costs). Aaron Dominguez would buy this car again because: “I would buy the Kamiq again for the same reason I bought it in the first place, I believe that compared to its competitors it offers the best package for the price.

The Hyundai Kona N-Line Premium is externally appealing, but the interior is much smaller particularly the boot, and the interior plastics despite a facelift leave a lot to be desired, yet their asking price is far more.

Similarly the Volkswagen T-Cross, is also visually appealing externally, but the hard plastics throughout really didn’t impress.

Then there is the Ford Puma, having driven one, I was impressed with the driving experience, but the interior, particularly the back seat, is claustrophobic.

The Focus Active which was probably more comparable in size to the Kamiq, wasn’t highly specified enough for my liking. If a wagon was offered in a Titanium spec that would have been something I’d consider.

Other cars like the Kia Seltos and Toyota CH-R, I just didn’t find appealing. If I were being more practical, then I would have considered the Skoda Scala, as it is basically the same as the Kamiq but with a bigger boot. However, the Skoda Rapid really put me off any Golf-sized Skoda derived hatchback forever.”

How reliable has your car been? Tell us about any issues.

So far, so good. At 3500 kilometres it has only been to Skoda for a minor issue. That is the sound system, which will go mute randomly. The only fix is to turn the car off and walk away. Skoda have yet to find an issue.

Amongst some of the owners in a local forum it seems to be an issue if you have the upgraded ‘Skoda Sound System’ offered in the Kamiq and Scala. Hopefully there will be a software update eventually.

What do you think of the ownership experience with your car?

I have been impressed thus far, but it hasn’t been very long. I wouldn’t rate the ownership over and above any previous vehicle so far, but I don’t have any regrets like I have with previous purchases.

How has the purchase and aftercare experience been with your car?

I purchased my car through a car broker who negotiated the price on my behalf. In the current climate where car stock has been scarce, I consider myself lucky to only have had to wait a month. I managed to time the pick up of my car just right, collecting it between lockdowns. The dealer I purchased from in Essendon, was very helpful and it was a fun experience “unveiling” my car.

My local dealer in regional Victoria were unwilling to negotiate on price which is why I didn’t buy from them, but they will be the ones servicing my car. In terms of aftercare they have been helpful, even if they couldn’t diagnose my audio issue. I do get the sense that they could do with more staff. It will be interesting to see the level of service I get particularly as they seem to be dealer with many smaller other brands. Think Suzuki, GWM, Renault and more.

Unfortunately if I’m not satisfied, Skoda don’t have too many regional dealers, so my next nearest is Shepparton. But I am optimistic that that won’t be necessary.

Are you happy with the price and features of your car?

By far my favourite feature is the infotainment system and virtual cockpit followed by the glorious panoramic sunroof. I’m glad that I paid for the additional Travel Pack, which includes the 9.2-inch Amundsen system featuring wireless Apple CarPlay.

It is also the only way to get mapping in the Virtual Cockpit, which really wouldn’t be the same without it. The upgraded ‘Skoda Sound System’ despite its issues from time to time, was well worth it too. It isn’t quite as deep or warm as the Sony system in our Ford Focus, but it has good clarity and a wide sound stage and the ‘panoramic’ option works well.

What I am not so happy about is the omission of some ‘clever’ features praised by many reviewers with MY20.5 test vehicles. Gone are the nets in the cargo area, the removable torch and hooks/covers on the top tether points.

I have actually ordered both the nets and missing hooks but the torch requires a wiring harness. On the plus side, I do get the much nicer steering wheel from the new Octavia, which is a nice upgrade and generously, floor mats and a double sided rubber/carpet boot mat are still included from factory.

I thought this was worth mentioning as Skoda seems to have provided older MY20.5 test cars to most media outlets including CarExpert which still have these features.

As mentioned earlier, I like a fully specified vehicle and so I wish there wasn’t a trade off between the Limited Edition/Signature and the Monte Carlo with Travel Pack. If you get the Limited Edition then you get electric memory seats but you don’t get the Skoda Sound System, if you get the Monte Carlo then you get the upgraded sound system but not the electric seats (an option overseas).

If I’m spending $4,500 for the Travel Pack, then why not just make it $5,000 and give me the electric seats? I’m already spending more than the Limited Edition/Signature. One of the reasons I didn’t go for the Limited Edition was because it looks identical to the base model 85TSI, but you’re paying $8000-$10,000 more, unlike the Monte Carlo.

Other options missing for overseas include the variable loading floor and heated windshield, both useful features. It’s good to see that a heated steering wheel will be offered on MY22 and I’ll be keen to see if any of those missing options also make an appearance.

I have to say that I do miss the electric handbrake from my Astra, I think it would really help free up some space for a better cupholder/storage area. There are two switch blanks just begging for it. On the upside, I’m loving the convenience of an electric tailgate and an auto-dimming driver’s side mirror.

I dig the heated sports seats, I just wish they had a middle setting between warm and fire. The seats are super comfortable, holding you in nicely but not too snuggly – for reference I’m a larger guy. I’d also like to mention because it wasn’t clear to me when researching, but they have leatherette/carbon patterned inserts, they look a little like cloth in pictures.

Another highlight is the headlights. I’ve got the AFS (adaptive) LED headlights and they’re so bright and the cornering lights while somewhat gimmicky are actually useful. However, the adaptive portion of the headlights are very subtle, unlike LED matrix headlights, so don’t expect to see the beams bending around corners. It also strangely misses out on automatic high beams.

Overall, I’m very satisfied. There are some inclusions I would’ve liked but I’m unlikely to have got any of them on the competition anyway.

What do you think of the performance and economy of your car?

In terms of performance, I’m glad that I have the 110TSI. I just like the extra response it gives. It is pretty reasonable on fuel, using premium unleaded I get an average of 6.7 litres of fuel per 100km around town. That drops to 5.5L/100km on long trips down the Hume Highway. It is much that same fuel economy that I was getting in my previous car, a Holden Astra RS-V 1.6T.

This is my second experience owning a dual clutch transmission. The first was an Alfa Romeo Giulietta JTD-m TCT, which ended with the clutch needing to be replaced – very expensive. I’m hopeful, that won’t happen again. The transmission in the Kamiq is far more refined and less ‘quirky’. There was an adjustment period when it came to taking off from standstill, but I’m mostly on top of that now.

What do you think of the technology in your car?

As I mentioned in the features section, I love the infotainment system. The biggest upgrade by far is wireless Apple CarPlay combined with wireless charging. Both work almost flawlessly with my iPhone 12 Pro. The only time I had issues was on longer trips, where my phone actually overheated. So I would advise not leaving it on the charger for more than an hour while using wireless Apple CarPlay, as both features seem to generate a fair bit of heat.

I love the crisp 9.2-inch display and I don’t find the lack of a physical volume knob an issue because you have one on the steering wheel. I’ve seen a couple of reviewers suggest you shouldn’t bother with the better infotainment system because of this which is just ridiculous. The same thing goes with the lack of physical fan buttons, just move with the times and use the auto climate control as it was intended, adjusting the temperature not the fan speed.

Also the trick to using the gesture control, is to move your hand along the infrared bar. If you wave your hand at the top of the screen, it won’t work.

In terms of Skoda’s own software, the mapping is clean and crisp, the voice control works well, waking on the command “Hey Laura”. However, you’re unable to control the climate controls via voice which means the whole system is rather useless unless you’re not using CarPlay.

I can’t help the feeling that Skoda has handicapped the system because Skoda Connect isn’t offered in Australia. Without it, the car can’t connect to the internet to get software updates despite being able to connect to my home WiFi (what’s the point of including that?), you can’t use the user profiles and there is mention of internet radio, but no way of making it work. When compared to Ford Sync in that regard it’s a bit backwards.

Similarly, with Ford you get the FordPass Connect app and you can connect to the car to control functions like remote start, central locking, fuel levels etc… Hyundai also have a similar system too, as does Skoda, just not for Australia. The MySkoda app is for the most part useless, all it can do is tell you where the nearest service centre is and provide a digital copy of the owners manual. I’m told that you could access the digital service records but that feature is now gone. Considering you have no physical service record, you have no way of actually checking your service history, which concerns me when I go to sell the vehicle eventually.

Back to things that I like, because I am actually very impressed with this car. The active cockpit, and how customisable it is and the amount of customisability within the infotainment system and car settings in general is fantastic. Overall, the car has a very modern feel to it, which I think is helped by the inclusion of USB-C ports in the front and back, wireless charging and wireless Apple CarPlay.

The adaptive cruise control also works quite well, it isn’t too overbearing and it pulls up and leaves appropriately sized gaps in traffic. It would be nice to have steering wheel mounted buttons but I have gotten used to the stalk-mounted controls and I like that it can be engaged with one tap, and that it can be increased by 1km/h or 10km/h.

I was a little disappointed that lane centring isn’t enabled, as the Kamiq is capable of predictive cruise control with the right software coding. The lack of traffic sign recognition support in Australia prevents this from being a reality on any Skoda/Volkswagen product sold here. The GPS speed sign data steps in here and for the most part is accurate from what I’ve seen. But competing brands like Mazda and Ford have shown that it isn’t impossible to develop for Australia.

The self-parking isn’t the best at detecting spaces, but it is very quick once it finds one. I think it would be better if I could manually select the type of space e.g. perpendicular, parallel etc. The reverse camera provides a decent picture quality, and it is the first reversing camera with a washer (activated with the rear washer) but it doesn’t include active guidelines surprisingly and disappointingly.

What do you think of the ride comfort and handling of your car?

I find the ride to be a nice balance between sporty and comfortable. If you change the adaptive dampers to ‘Sport’, it can be a bit rough around town particularly across expansion joints and pot holes. Although not anywhere as harsh as a Kia Cerato GT.

I would suggest reserving the ‘Sport’ setting for a nice twisty road, as the increased throttle response and heavier steering really can be a lot of fun. If you utilise the ‘Individual’ setting then you can have the heavier steering and more responsive throttle without the firmer suspension.

There is a third setting, ‘Eco’ but I honestly don’t notice any difference between it and normal.

Overall, I think the Kamiq has a warm hatch feel. It might be a good option if your partner wants an SUV but you don’t want the sloppy top-heavy feeling of a traditional SUV. I’d say it was comparable to the handling if a little more refined to an LW-LZ Ford Focus, which was great in the corners.

Do you have any additional comments about your car?

I strongly believe that the Kamiq is one of the strongest options in this segment for value, practicality and quality. I think Skoda will sell a ton of these if they can get enough supply.

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Ratings
Overall9.1
Show Breakdown
Technology 9.5
Reliability 8
Ride & Handling 9.5
Price & Features 9
Purchase & Aftercare 8.5
Performance & Economy 9.5
Ownership Experience 9.5
Top Line Specs
5.6L
110kW
128g
Not tested
View all specifications