Skoda Karoq Velo review: Concept car for cyclists with built-in washing machine – Mirror Online

Concept cars are test-beds for brilliant and bizarre ideas, pushing the bounds of convention to see if they can be broken or at least bent into something new.

But people tend to be more restrained about their car choices, which is why the Fiesta has been Britain’s best-seller for the past two years.

Buyers prefer to know something is tried and tested. Most don’t want to be the guinea pig for a designer’s radical ideas, which is a shame and a drag on innovation, not to mention putting some fun into driving.

The Skoda Karoq Velo is a concept car but it’s not so far removed from reality that it requires fanciful tech dreamt up by sci-fi wizards in a Star Wars reverie.

It’s a concept, just not a ridiculously high concept.

It looks like a normal car from the outside

Skoda Karoq Velo review: Concept car for cyclists with built-in washing machine - Mirror Online
And it has all the gadgets behind the wheel you’d expect to see

 

Billed as the “ultimate cycling companion”, it has been specially adapted inside and out to make it a cyclist’s go-to SUV.

Skoda’s concept researchers asked what owners might like from a car to enhance those cycling expeditions and they have created a highly practical wagon for cyclists.

The Velo is an enhanced 1.6TDi Karoq with a bucketful of extras for those trips into the wild or just to take you to those lonely lanes where you are more likely to be dodging deer than traffic.

The Karoq is a compact SUV/crossover which certainly looks the part, especially with this bike chain exterior wrap and even more so when carrying a couple of MTBs on the roof. 

But the 115PS put out by it’s 1.6 engine did struggle at times with three adults and a dog on board, at least in automatic mode.

We had a mildly hairy moment when the lack of zip was exposed, ironically it was as we passed a cyclist on a country lane.

Rather than dropping into a lower gear and racing past the lycra-clad rider, we drew alongside a bit too slowly for anyone’s comfort.

He had time to return our concerned glances, apparently sharing our fear that perhaps we might never get past before the oncoming traffic arrived.

Skoda Karoq Velo review: Concept car for cyclists with built-in washing machine - Mirror Online
Skoda’s are notoriously a bargain buy

Skoda Karoq Velo review: Concept car for cyclists with built-in washing machine - Mirror Online
But there’s more to this car than meets the eye

 

Eventually we did pull away. Lesson learned: Use semi-automatic with the paddles on the steering column and sport mode to get the best performance. The ride is sure-footed and free of roll, which can plague some crossovers on twisty-turny country journeys.

Skoda has been immersed in professional cycling for years, supplying support vehicles you may have seen on the Tour de France and Tour of Britain. The company says it was “born on the two wheels” in 1895 before car making took over and has a dedicated magazine Welovecycling.com.

With such a deeply embedded regard for cycling it seemed surprising for a concept with an eye on the future to be based on a diesel car.

Skoda’s parent company VW has been trumpeting its imminent electric vehicle range and cyclists as a breed are more likely to be looking for environmentally friendly options.

Skoda Karoq Velo review: Concept car for cyclists with built-in washing machine - Mirror Online
For a star cyclists will appreciate the built in washing machine

Skoda Karoq Velo review: Concept car for cyclists with built-in washing machine - Mirror Online
And then there’s the drone that will emerge and film you while you are riding

Admittedly the price of EVs is the main problem working against their wider acceptance right now but eco credentials are always a factor and diesels are becoming a no-no for many people. 

But the Velo did return almost 45mpg from the tank we used, impressively close to the 44.8-47.1mpg listed and the 125g/km emissions are respectable.

Some of the Velo’s cycling add-ons are obvious, such as the twin cycle racks bolted onto the Velo’s roof rails. These are the easiest option for those people who tend not a plan their cycling much. Just pop the bike on the roof and head for that cross-country cycle track or road route which is just out of reach on two wheels.

These roof racks are lockable but, if you have invested heavily in road going equipment which would make Sir Dave Brailsford weep with envy, you might prefer to take advantage of the extra security of the internal rack.

This sits where the third rear seat would be but if it keeps your ‘precious’ out of sight behind the blackened windows, it has to be worth the extra effort of removing a wheel to make it fit safely inside the car, not to mention the challenge of lifting my hefty hybrid over head into the roof racks. 

The nightclub lighting under the internal rack is just one of the quirky touches which give the Velo its distinctive character and will appeal to anyone who likes to see their bike bathed in an ambient green glow before hammering it over Britain’s grizzled roads.

Skoda Karoq Velo review: Concept car for cyclists with built-in washing machine - Mirror Online
The built in fridge has got to be another plus

Skoda Karoq Velo review: Concept car for cyclists with built-in washing machine - Mirror Online
It will keep any cyclists refreshments cool

Some of the extras on the Velo, however, are more eclectic and left me puzzling. 

First among these was the washing machine. Now, I can see the point of it. You’ve been carving through the muddy trails of some god forsaken forest and return to your pristine chariot looking like something out of Trainspotting’s toilet scene.

Ditching those caked clothes straight into the washer saves the car from a soiling and means you arrive home fresh and fragrant rather than soiled. But, if you’ve got to change, surely that dirty gear could just be stuffed in a bag until you get home.

Skoda Karoq Velo review: Concept car for cyclists with built-in washing machine - Mirror Online
And of course, the car will carry your bikes with you on your journey

Although the washing machine would be a god-send if you need fresh gear for the next stage of your expedition.

Anyway, the Velo has a pretty powerful pressure washer, which you could use on yourself as well as your bike to get the worst of the muck off.

There’s a very handy tool drawer on-board too if, let’s say, for no particular reason, you should happen to get a puncture while riding the disused railway line which is now the Valley Trail around Sudbury, Suffolk.

 

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If the weather’s on the warm side, Skoda has thought of that too. There’s a fridge on the back seat, like the washers it works off the car battery, keeping your water, electrolytes, beer or prosecco at a frosty level until you get back from your ride. The thought of a cold drink is enough to keep most cyclists on mission.

If that isn’t enough the Velo has the kind of secret weapon a spy would be proud of. Tucked into one of many storage pockets scattered around the Velo is a Mavic Pro drone.

This high-end piece of kit can fly alongside or high above you, tracking and filming your exploits while you keep your head down and your eyes on the road ahead.

Like most tech, however, it has its limitations.

It is distinct possibility user error came into it but so did a dicky gimbal and a thick canopy of trees overhead. Even with the wonderful tracking tech, reminiscent of a cruise missile on a mission of destruction, it was always going to have a hard time following us, never mind producing any useful footage. 

We’ll see whether the Velo has enough peddle power for Skoda put it into production or not.

But it’s a practical crossover with enough bike-friendly add-ons to make it a fun and highly functional bike carrier. 

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