Skoda Kamiq: Rhymes with comic
Second-hand Style, with Richard Cooke
USED cars have got more expensive since a Chinese laboratory definitely didn’t accidentally leak a new and potent flu onto an unsuspecting world.
Component prices have jumped, production is down, supply and demand comes into play and we all pay more for a second-hand motor.
What’s the alternative? Well, buying a new car is anathema to this column, but what if they were actually the better (ie cheaper) option?
I understand that 90% of new car buyers use some form of financing deal, so maybe I should test a new car and see what the fuss is about? Enter the Skoda Kamiq, which was only launched in the UK a year ago.
Turns out you can lease the 110bhp version of the Kamiq that I drove for £165 a month (£7,920 over the four-year period), with £1,750 as a down payment. That’s just under £10,000 in total (or £2.5k a year), which effectively covers the depreciation on the list price of £21k.
If you are buying new, you have to accept those numbers, and that after four years you have nothing to show for it. So far, so very boring. It also sounds expensive to me – why should I shoulder that much depreciation every year?
If the Kamiq was a real looker, it might be an easier sell.
Skoda says that this car ‘sets a new design standard for Skoda’. Wow. That standard can only be described as ‘Deathly Dull’, because the Kamiq is the definition of a wall flower.
Nothing wrong with that per se, and I actually prefer the looks to the more expensive (and mechanically identical) VW T-Cross. The VW tries to look like an SUV, which it isn’t. The Skoda keeps much closer to the look of an ordinary hatchback, which feels more honest.
After all, this is a front-wheel drive three cylinder hatchback that just happens to have some useful headroom. Manufacturers have squeezed the definition of the on-trend SUV segment so hard recently that they’ve just ended up making rivals to the ordinary Vauxhall Astra.
Step inside the Kamiq and all comparisons with an Astra vanish, though.
This is a really well made, expensive-feeling interior. Still deathly dull, but in a clinical and robust Germanic fashion.
I’d feel less annoyed about my monthly payments from the driver’s seat, that’s for sure. Start the Kamiq up and it thrums, like all three cylinder petrol engines. I like that.
The 6 speed manual is a delight to use, and the turbo-charged 1 litre engine (how cute) feels strong. I thought it was the 150hp 1.5 at first. It runs out of steam as the revs rise, but buyers coming from a diesel will be used to that.
At motorway speeds there’s more wind noise than I expected from a VW Group car, but it feels totally planted and safe.
For those who care, there are all sorts of infotainment extras you can add when buying new. The central screen is very clear and of an excellent resolution, and the dashboard is fashionably digital. I missed out on a USB charge port, but then I was driving the cooking model ‘S’ spec, so I should have been thankful it even came with a radio.
Room in the back is excellent; I’m not sure how Skoda have managed this given the length of the Kamiq (not very long at all). The boot is also a decent size.
Whether you want a Kamiq is, of course, your decision. I don’t want one, despite the excellent build quality, solid interior and willing little engine. I’d have a standard hatchback or even, shock, a saloon car.
The Kamiq is playing fast and loose with the definition of a ‘Crossover SUV’ (whatever that is).
But let’s assume you have your heart set on one – should you buy new or used? A year-old Kamiq with 8k miles will cost you £17k, £4k less than new. That makes economic sense, but if you’re paying monthly will you notice the difference? And if you aren’t, you will have to find 17 large, which most people can’t.
I have to admit, I did rather like driving something looking, feeling and smelling new, even something as dull as the Kamiq.
If I had specified the car myself, in dreary white paint with a depressing all-black interior, I might even be feeling a little bit special.
But look away, dear reader, for that way ruination lies! Stick to the huge savings that are usually routinely found on the used car market. Those bargain prices will come back.
What to pay: Skoda Kamiq, brand new out of the box, get the best deal you can find.