Mountains, scree, slope. They still exist, the countries that can also be traversed off the asphalt. Albania is one of them.
Finally, the prove increased ground clearance and the off-road mode switch in the Skoda Karoq Scout times as really useful. Because the stony and narrow mountain passages south of Tirana demand that Skoda SUV shortly after the start so much off. And three days are still ahead of us.
It cracks and creaks under the floor pan, the wheels strive to find a foothold. One hangs in the air, the other falls into the pool. Entanglement calls this the SUV driver. And it gets even better. The path is not two and a half meters wide, on the left the gorge, on the right the edge of the cliff. Now do not lose your nerve. And please no oncoming traffic.
Welcome to Albania, the most unknown tourist country in Southern Europe. Until the 90 years there were only around 3.000 cars here. An almost homeopathic dose. All belonged to the party officials. The population was banned under the communist regime of private property. Millions of people suffered for almost half a century after the Second World War under a paranoid dictator named Enver Hoxha. He isolated the country politically and ruined it economically.
Fortunately, that is a thing of the past. Albania, just two hours flight from Germany, is open, hospitable and easy to travel. And it could develop into an insider tip in the predominantly German off-road vehicle scene. The reasons are obvious: favorable exchange rate, wide mountain landscapes (they make up a good 70 percent of the entire country) and never ending gravel and scree slopes - without prohibition signs. So the 4 × 4 paradise par excellence.
And exactly the right terrain for the fourth edition of the “Skoda Euro Trek Tour”. This year, the convoy of the Czech Volkswagen subsidiary will be the Karoq Scout models, equipped with the new top engine, the two-liter diesel with 140 kW / 190 hp and the seven-speed dual clutch transmission from the Kodiaq. The combination turns out to be successful not only on the road and leaves it Karoq comfortable And at the same time be efficient on the road, but also convinces in the field. After all, the TDI delivers 400 Newton meters of torque, and they are already available from 1.900 rpm. Skoda's compact SUV can thus sensitively take even challenging climbs and difficult surfaces under the wheels.
Away from the cities, Albania shows a fascinatingly beautiful side. The Karoq convoy keeps stopping, side windows whir down, cameras click. Mountain ranges, sometimes over 2.000 meters high, line the backdrop to the horizon. We sometimes drive up on the ridges, where one wonders who created paths here and when for what? But: thanks for that. It is definitely worth the effort to drive up here at walking pace for the most part. A few kilometers further, rivers cut valleys, meandered, and sometimes formed deep gorges, islands and meadows. No wonder that these areas have been declared national parks on a large scale.
The inhabitants we meet here seem to be at peace with themselves and the world, they are satisfied - despite their poverty. They live secluded, guard their sheep and goats, harvest olives or wine and produce yoghurt or cheese. As a means of transport is usually the donkey cart, the horse replaces the tractor. The rural romance vanishes quickly, however, as soon as you enter the cities - at least in some of them. Communism and the concrete brain of the dictator have left their ugly architectural traces. From old town charm and nice cafes, nothing is felt here. Occasionally, entire areas of land become deserted, as in the vicinity of Elbasan, where the ruins of abandoned steelworks form a spooky backdrop that would also be ideal for any end-time film.
On the other hand, at least the historic districts of Berat and Gjirokastra, which Enver Hoxha 1961 - it is hard to believe - are made into museum cities. Today, the two places are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. A title that could also secure the Greek city of Corfu, the goal of the Euro Trek Tour. The Karoq entourage did not mind the off-road trip through the Albanian mountain landscapes, apart from a few scratches and rockfalls. The danger of bending the sheet was more likely in the cities: in Albania, in a roundabout there is not the right of way, which is in it, but the one who enters it.
Skoda Karoq Scout - Specifications:
Five-door, five -seat compact SUV; Length: 4,40 meter, Width: 1,84, Height: 1,61 meter, Wheelbase: 2,63 meter, Boot volume: 521 - 1.630 liter
2,0-liter diesel, 140 kW / 190 horsepower, maximum torque: 400 Nm at 1.900 - 3.300 rpm, 7-speed dual-clutch transmission (DSG), four-wheel drive, 0-100 km / h: 7,4 s, Vmax: 211 km / h, standard fuel consumption: 5,2 liters / 100 kilometers, CO2 emissions: 138 g / km, emissions standard: Euro 6d-temp, efficiency class: B, price: from 38.290 Euro
Skoda Karoq Scout - short description:
Why: a lot of space; good off-road characteristics; powerful engine; good comfort.
Why not: comparatively high price; little extensive guarantees
What else: Hyundai Tucson, Toyota RAV4, Kia Sportage, Opel Grandland X
When will he come: already in the market