I confess I’m not well acquainted with the Czech language but it does seem to have a lot of letters which really shouldn’t go together.
A bit like Welsh, the Czechs also seem to have been short-changed when vowels were being handed out and instead got more than their fair share of consonants. As a result, it’s difficult for non-speakers to get their tongues round even common words.
It strikes me that as a result, the Czech car company Skoda could have faced a problem when it came to naming their models if they’d decided to follow a nationalistic language route.
Instead, in recent years they’ve gone for some straightforward labels while cleverly managing to incorporate a little exotic flavour with the likes of Fabia and Octavia. Others express the car’s character like the small town runabout, the Citigo and the well-named excellent big Superb although calling their compact saloon the Rapid may be a touch optimistic.
Recently though I think they’ve been raking around in the depths of the letters spare parts bin at company HQ in Mladá Boleslav and found a huge pile of unused Ks and Qs.
That’s one explanation for the names of the latest crop of SUVs to come forth from the East European branch of the Volkswagen Group empire.
Last year they unveiled the Kodiaq, supposedly named after Kodiak island in Alaska, best known for its big brown bear. I’ve not yet heard an explanation as to why the final K became a Q.
Now they’ve come up with the smaller version, which will in time replace the hugely successful Yeti, which is starting to show its age after eight years, and again they’ve called upon the 11th and 17th letter of the alphabet.
The Karoq continues the Alaskan theme, apparently. The official line is it’s a combination of ‘kaa’raq’ (car) and ‘ruq’ (arrow) in the language of the state’s indigenous people…..but I suspect it’s just a ploy to use up those spare letters.
The name apart, the new car looks a very smart proposition and if it attracts the same positive response which has been heaped on its big brother, it will be very successful.
We will have to wait some time to find out though because it’s not scheduled to arrive on these shores until early next year. What Skoda have done is kick-start anticipation as they did with the Kodiaq, drip-feeding information about it well in advance of its appearance in the showrooms.
Having seen it in the metal, touched it and cast my eye around the interior on a static preview in Sweden, I’m impressed with what it offers – all the attraction of the Kodiaq on a smaller scale and a worthy more rounded successor to the squared-off Yeti. But it does have more than a passing resemblance to its cousins in the other parts of the VW Group, the Seat Ateca, the Audi Q3 and the VW Tiguan – with whom it shares some under-the-surface components and technology – so it will have to carve out its own market based on price and badge loyalty.
It’s certainly an impressive package incorporating the attractive dynamic corporate Skoda look which is spreading through the range.
There will be five petrol and diesel engine choices, four of them brand-new, and stacks of technology along with up to five driving modes including a special off-road mode. There will be an extended range of driver assistance systems for safety and comfort, the Skoda Connect infotainment system and touchscreen, full LED headlights and a programmable digital instrument panel for the first time in a Skoda.
For a compact SUV it promises bags of space, helped by the rear-seat VarioFlex system of three separate seats, which can be individually adjusted and can also be taken out completely to effectively turn it into a van.
There’s an expansion of Skoda’s Simply Clever theme with more than 30 features, four of which, like the ‘virtual pedal’ which opens the tailgate by waving your foot under the rear bumper and the automatic electrically retractable towbar, didn’t appear on the Yeti.
It’ll be some time before we get behind the wheel for a full assessment of the Karoq on and off road but if it’s anywhere near as good as the Kodiaq – which is almost a certainty – it’ll be a very worthy successor to the Yeti.
The only other element that remains is the price and the speculation is that it’ll be priced below the outgoing model to give it the edge over the serious competition from the likes of the Nissan Qashqai and Kia Sportage.