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Detailed Skoda Slavia review by a 2019 Skoda Rapid owner

If you have driven cars based on older platforms, like the PQ35 (Jetta, Laura, Yeti), chances are that you would find all the newer MQB platform-based cars to feel lighter.

BHPian sachin_cs recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

My take on the Slavia

Skoda India organized a 2-day event in Goa for the existing customers of Skoda to experience the newly launched Skoda Slavia and understand the car better. The event was called #DriveWithSlavia and I was part of it along with fellow BHPians like Dr Vikas (the one with blue Octavia), Sanyog (fellow Rapid TSi owner) & I'm sorry if I'm missing anyone.

For those of you who don't know me, I drive a 2019 Rapid TDi DSG and have done close to 50k kms with my Heisenberg. The below observations are my personal views and are not meant to hurt anyone.

Positives

  • Ride and handling balance
  • Looks, it will age well
  • Tyre size of 205/55 offers good sidewall
  • Engine & gearbox combination- there's something for everyone
  • Comfortable-airy cabin & great ergonomics
  • Throw from headlights is strong (Achilles heel of Rapid)
  • Brakes are surefooted
  • 1.0 is an all-rounder and there's nothing like 1.5TSi
  • Features like seat ventilation, Rake-reach steering, XDS, MCB, TC, ESP, E brake boost etc.

Negatives

  • I need full underbody cover
  • Lights in the glove box are missing
  • No auto up-down on all 4 windows like Rapid
  • Ambition variant vis a vis Kushaq lacks features
  • Temperature & blower controls are fine but the rest needed me to take my eyes off the road to fiddle with climatronic control
  • Not offering monte Carlo edition is a crime
  • Steering is precise but lacks feedback, would have liked more feedback at least in the 1.5 TSi variant. I guess light EPS is the norm these days (I miss you fiesta)

Let me address the elephant in the room first:

I have been following the Slavia thread for a couple of days on the forum as well as on other social media platforms and I am so surprised to see the Slavia getting bashed Left-Right & Centre, I don't really know if these criticisms are coming from people who have genuinely experienced it or it's coming from keyboard warriors. My Rapid is my daily driver and I have driven it across various road surfaces, so my natural benchmark for Slavia would be the old PQ25 based Rapid.

Car lifting off its wheel which was shared in Insta Reels

That location is on the outskirts of Goa, it is a closed helipad with roads forming a shape of a rectangle maze with 90-degree turns. Road condition - bumpy and at places, gravels. Since we were driving in convoy, we had rules to follow and it was here that we were allowed to push the car to its limits as it was not a public road. I drove the car first and reached some unmentionable speeds (very easy to do in the 1.5TSi) and slammed on the brakes, car stopped in a straight line with no drama and has far better brakes than my Rapid. Next, I tested the handling and I got three corners to attack on the defined path, I was on the outside line-hit the apex-exited the corner with the throttle. So what did I observe? The car behaved normally as it should and there was no moment when I felt the car is losing traction or lifting off the ground. So that particular video must have been shot at a very high speed. Next up, my brother got in the driver's seat and he did the drill, me on the passenger seat again felt nothing abnormal, car held its line, there was no unnecessary body movements and did its job.

The same location where that Reels was shot and we drove on the exact same roads.

Observe the car holding its line properly while entering the corner. Also, observe a patchwork on the road which essentially acts as the mid-corner bump.

Observe the change in the axis between the front wheel and the rear. Note the wheel articulation of the front wheel.

There you go, the speed was so much so that the car left the ground for a moment.

Ugly looking rear with an exposed tank, torsion beam

After spending a day with the car and driving in the convoy also helped me realize that the video uploaded on youtube sometime back, showing the ugly stance was probably because of the spacers or maybe it was being tested on oversized tyres as Zac mentioned that they tested Slavia with 17 inchers as well. The following click from the event would help you understand what I observed:

The famous video of Slavia on the road sans camo

I purposefully sat on the ground and clicked from a very low angle

(Little trivia: Skoda lettering in the rear started in China as Skoda wanted to enhance its brand presence and then the idea moved forward & was introduced in other markets)

In normal stance, it looks fairly neat

Clicked by BHPian Sanyog during the drive. It gives a perspective of how a Slavia would appear from the rear when viewed from a low slung sedan.

Ride and handling

I saw many responses saying Rapid is a better handler, sorry, but I beg to differ here, I found the ride-handling balance of Slavia to be slightly superior when compared to Rapid. Allow me to explain, Rapid has very good high-speed stability and ride quality & so does the Slavia but when going gets slow, Rapid has the harsher suspension and on the other hand with Slavia, you can get a bit careless. Regarding body roll, both cars are similar in nature if I compare my Rapid when it was shod with Goodyear but now due to softer Michelins, body roll has slightly increased in my Rapid. Handling is again really good in the Slavia and its benchmark in the segment, no second thoughts on that. On the outskirts, I got some lovely winding roads and I pushed the car and it was rewarding the way chassis responded, it allows you to push the car. Turn-in is better in the Slavia, it's nimble during sharp direction change and on the other hand, Rapid feels front heavy and understeers a bit (it might be because of the heavy TDi motor).

Can't express how fun it was to push the car on such a lovely winding section, smooth surface & low traffic

Build quality

Going by the words, I'm getting an impression as if the Slavia has a build quality of an Asian car, well let me put it this way- it still is a European car, much better built than the competition. Can't conclusively comment on the safety aspect of any of the cars be it City 5th gen, Verna, Ciaz or the Slavia, as none of the made in India-sold in India cars has been tested yet, so let's keep the presumptions aside. Though I personally feel that City and Slavia should perform well on the test, rest two companies don't have a good track record on safety. On the famous "thud" quotient, I found it to be comparable to Rapid, nothing degrading as it has been made out, it still is 95% of what Rapid feels like. The reason which comes to my mind is- If you have driven cars based on older platforms like PQ35 (Jetta, Laura, Yeti) chances are you would find all the newer MQB platform based cars to feel lighter, so is the case with MQB-A0-IN. If the platform is safer, lighter, torsionally more rigid then I don't see a problem.

Interiors

People complain when a manufacturer gives-

  • Beige interior-difficult to maintain
  • White interior-difficult to maintain
  • Black interior- too claustrophobic and monotonous

So you are dammed if you do and dammed if you don't. The best way is that Skoda should come up with the Monte Carlo edition and keep both sides happy (applicable to all manufacturers).

On the interior quality, I would say it's a step up from Kushaq, feels a notch higher be it the roofliner or the colour scheme, thank you for listening to us. There's no use of soft plastic (Chinese have hit it out of the park in this department), whether soft or not, it should be of good quality and not rattle. Regarding interior rattles, the car I was driving was fairly silent and I think we should wait for a while to see how it fares in the long run, it will be too soon to form an opinion.

Pleasant place to start your day

Reminds me of Rapid, door pockets are better designed than the predecessor

You forgot to place a light, bring it back

I was happy with the blower and temperature control but switching to fresh-air mode made me look at the panel. It will take a while to get used to it.

Star of the interior, a very fluid and informative infotainment system (I'm looking at you Honda). Wireless Android Auto was impressive.

The only thing I can think of is placing a scale model here

Notice the improved quality of headliner

Frameless VAG IRVM is a beauty in itself

To keep the aam janta happy, biggest sunroof of the segment

I was so lost in the driving that I did not even realize that I'm driving a 2-spoke steering wheel, it was only after an hour I observed it so, works as intended so hardly bothers.

Overall the cabin offers very good visibility, ergonomics are spot on too.

Makes up for a nice cozy cabin and you can do all day long mile munching in it.

Black top helps in minimizing sunlight reflection

Prices

I don't know how some people were expecting it to start at 9L, I mean it's a full-sized sedan, comes standard with ESP-XDS-Multi collision braking and the likes along with European build quality, I don't see a point.

Kushaq if you ask me, yes it was overpriced for what it offers and Slavia I think is fairly priced (baring some variant), just to give you a context, the similarly equipped Style AT/MT of Slavia is almost 1L cheaper than Kushaq in my city and offers more features. In 2019, a decade-old platform Rapid ambition DSG was retailing at 15L on-road, Style/Monte Carlo would cross 16+, Vento Highline+ was touching 17L, if you do some calculations, bring in the development cost, newer & bigger car plus inflation, I feel the price is justified. If I have to upgrade from my Rapid under 20L, I literally don't see any option other than Slavia 1.5 TSi. To each his own, I would any day prefer a car with a great engine-gearbox combination and has the basics right instead of the one with a voice-operated sunroof.

Style 1.0 AT has 80k difference & MT has an exact 1L gap. The gap is not so much in the 1.5 TSi though but it's still lower

Ground clearance

The very reason buyers are ditching Sedans is low ground clearance and here we have a sedan with good ground clearance and it still is a problem for some. I personally would prefer a sedan with good ground clearance and enjoy the best of both worlds. In the past, Linea with raised ground clearance, Volvo S60 cross country were great attempts but unfortunately, they couldn't strike a chord with the masses because many want their cars to look imposing, tall, butch etc which is the trend right now. People like me and Dr Vikas who drives Octavia were very impressed with the ground clearance and practicality. Plus, when compared to raised hatchbacks, a car sitting lower to the ground gives the engineers a bit more liberty to play with suspension tuning and hit the right balance between ride & handling.

I will happily drive this to Ladakh

Much cleaner underbody than Rapid/Vento. No rear spring protrusion or hanging handbrake cable

For comparison

After-sales support

Skoda is very infamous for their after-sales support and there have been cases of reliability issues in the past and recent saga with EPC errors. I, fortunately, have been lucky on this front despite having the dreaded DQ200 and many in my circle have had good experiences only so far, personally speaking, I see they are trying to make a difference and efforts can be seen, kindly go through my ownership review. Also, with Skoda getting rid of some dealers recently instils confidence that they are in the right direction. Only advice would be to make your complaint escalation system more cohesive and efficient, so that whatever complaints we make to you directly should be assessed internally & not directed back to the dealers. We can't escalate everything through Zac all the time.

Let's talk about the experience now

First of all, it's a brave move by Skoda to offer a brand new Sedan in the market where buyers are clearly steering towards pseudo SUVs. We have already seen the demise of cars like Elantra, Altis, Civic, Accord, Yaris and the list continues and it's a no brainer that the threat still looms around the remaining handful of cars available in the market right now. At the end of the day, manufacturers are here to run businesses and if they ain't making a profit they will eventually phase out sedans. It will be a big loss for people like me, who are die-hard sedan lovers and who don't think twice to venture out with our cars to territories where other FWD Suvs are anyways going. I don't want to see that day when I don't have options to choose in the 3 box format. If I could remember the cars I used to draw behind my school notebooks, well, they were sedans. Enough of my rants now!

I got the chance to drive Skoda Slavia 1.0 TSi on the roads of Goa, it was a convoy drive from Taj Exotica to some isolated helipad on the outskirts where we got to experience the crazy 150 PS 1.5 TSi. We got mixed driving conditions to experience the Slavia right from narrow streets of Goa to a NH to small ghat section to a private road to push the cars. The drive was very well organized and I experienced it on both good roads & pothole ridden roads to get a fair idea of the suspension setup.

Continue reading sachin_cs' review for BHPian comments, insights and more information.

 
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