I own both the Kushaq & Slavia: My take on the Skoda India 2.0 cars

Replaced 2 Ford cars (EcoSport & Figo) with the 2 Skoda cars.

BHPian jc.on.wheels recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

Owning both of the Skoda India 2.0 vehicles – my thoughts

Hello BHPians!

This is my second post on the forum, and I wanted to take the time and post something valuable for you all. Just like I was, many are currently debating as to whether they should make the jump to the Kushaq/Slavia. And I think I can be of some help here. We have both the Kushaq and Slavia – the former was purchased in November 2022, while the latter in February 2023. We also have a Honda Jazz in the house, but that blog is for another day.

I’ve had some people come up and ask why we take the almost same cars from the same OEM. They are even more dumbfounded when they hear that they are in the same trim: Style (top model) with the 1.0 engine. The only difference is that while the Kushaq is manual, the Slavia is automatic.

Please note that I am not from an engineering background so this blog will not be very technical, it is from a simple consumer standpoint. With that out of the way, below is my detailed selection process for both cars, along with some background and thoughts/observations:

The Why

We had two Ford cars before this – the EcoSport 1.0 L EcoBoost engine (Titanium trim), and the Ford Figo 1.2 L (Ambiente trim) – both manuals. For buying the Kushaq, we sold the Figo, mainly because:

  • The car was Karnataka registered, and since I shifted to Kolkata at the beginning of the year, the 1-year NOC period was coming to an end. And after paying heavily for its shifting, I was not willing to shell out more. I must admit though, it was an amazing car and even after five years, the engine was smooth and peppy, and showed the prowess of Ford and their tough, no-nonsense and built-to-last cars.
  • A very common issue that Ford owners faced have since September 2021 – is their exit. Ever since that announcement, we have been quite worried about service and resale. While they had assured of 10 years of uninterrupted service and I believed them, I was pretty sure the resale value was going to sink faster than the Titanic. As of now, I’ve read that service from Ford is still decent, which I wholeheartedly believe. But I also know they have shut down several service stations, including the one which I went to when I was in Bangalore (Elite Ford).

For buying the Slavia, we sold the EcoSport, and here are the two key reasons:

  1. Unlike the Figo, the EcoSport was showing its age, particularly the engine. The EcoSport was purchased in June 2015, while the Figo in July 2017. Seven years in, I realized that turbo engines at the time were not as advanced as they are today. The engine was a little noisy from the start, but it was on another level now. Add to that the random problems which were coming up – oil leakages, gear lever suddenly becoming loose in the middle of the road (twice) – and we realized it was time to say goodbye. My dad loved the car, as it was a very tall and comfortable car (he has back problems so he can't sit in a sedan comfortably and only prefers SUVs).
  2. The second reason is similar to the one for Figo – the exit of Ford and so, reliability.

The OG "compact SUV" of India. This shot was taken on its farewell day..

The Kushaq belongs to my dad, while the Slavia was purchased by me. Before going for the Kushaq, here are the alternatives we looked at:

KIA Seltos

  • The most common one. Everyone was after the Seltos in 21-22. Naturally, we too wanted to have a look. We did not take a TD of the car though. Even though I liked the car, my dad was not convinced, primarily because:
  • The brand – as an auto enthusiast, I knew the brand very well and its amazing lineup abroad. But it was a name which he was not familiar with and made me think there may be a section of people who are yet to be familiar with and gain that level of trust with newcomers like KIA, MG, Citroen, etc.
  • All features and no substance – while this is debatable, I do agree that the Koreans focus more on features and cosmetics to woo their customers. It's not wrong at all – it's just something my dad wasn’t convinced with. To each their own.
  • Safety – with a not-too-impressive NCAP rating of 3 stars, and with the same reputation for other Korean cars, Dad was not convinced with safety either, and so, even though I was upset about the decision at the time, we dropped the Seltos from the list.
  • We had also seen the Sonet at the showroom and while we kind of liked it, the above factors apply, as well as the small size.

Hyundai Creta

  • We had checked out the Creta before the Seltos, and I had even test-driven it, but it was out of the race upon reaching home. While the brand wasn’t a problem obviously, points b and c apply here as well. Add to that the radical design which the Creta came with. While I eventually came to terms with it, it has still not grown on me. The interiors are nice and premium though, and what had bowled me was the panoramic sunroof – the first time I saw the feature on a car. It seems like magic the first time you see it.

Other cars in the category were not considered because:

  1. Jeep Compass – beyond budget, great brand but unsure about service and maintenance costs.
  2. Mahindra and Tata – the Indian duo is doing great right now, and kudos to them! It's just the belief that we have about the quality of Indian OEMs, with both Tata and Mahindra having infamous QC issues in their cars, and fit and finish not being at par with foreign counterparts. I just hope that there comes a time when I can overcome this fear and visit any of their showrooms to consider buying one (the way they are going, I’m sure it’ll be soon).
  3. MG Hector – have one in our complex, and looks like a dinosaur. No offence to any Hector owners here – this is just my personal opinion. To me, it looks too large for a five-seater, have heard horrifying fuel-efficiency figures, and I was not looking for an “Internet-Inside” car, I need a vehicle on wheels, not a computer.
  4. Nissan Kicks and Renault Duster – simply, no. They don’t even come into consideration.

With all that out of the way:

Why Kushaq?

  1. Size – yes, believe it or not, this was a major factor. The Kushaq was the perfect choice because it was just the right size. Dad wanted something larger than the Sonet, i.e., beyond 4 metres in length, but also shorter than the Seltos and Creta, which were too big according to him, thereby causing parking hassles in a city like Kolkata, plus we honestly didn’t need that much space, as it would mostly be him and mom. The Kushaq and we were like hand in glove.
  2. Brand – Skoda has always been a fascination for both of us. Ever since we saw the Octavia for the first time on the road, both of us became fanboys of the car and brand. The name meant quality and standard to us, and the thought that a car with that tag was now within our budget and perfectly fit our needs was bliss. We even confirmed with friends and other owners of Skoda vehicles and got to know that the infamous high maintenance costs are a thing of the past, and with the four-year service package, you’re all set. And with the service centre being quite close to our home, 6.5 km, that was set.
  3. Design – Creta? Too radical and in-your-face. Seltos? Good looks but the interiors seemed too busy. Kushaq – just right. Not too blingy – just a simple, clean and elegant design, both inside and outside, that will age well. The Kushaq has clean body lines, well chiselled, and the exteriors are easy on the eyes. The interiors are not too busy, just the right amount of features and tech. The plastics are good to the touch, and all the key touch points for the driver are soft touch.
  4. Engine – we were OK with the 1.0L engine, as it’ll mostly be used in the city. It has gone on highways and no issues at all – the engines are exactly what we asked for.
  5. Price – nothing to say much here, except that it fits our budget well. We were not willing to go beyond 18L, and this one came around 17.8, so it was the perfect fit.

Why Slavia?

  1. Design – let's face it, one thing sedans have going for is their sleek and aerodynamic looks. They seem to be moving even while standing still (at least the well-designed ones). Slavia fit into this bracket fair and square, and I have been in love with its looks since the day it launched.
  2. Boot space – Class-leading boot space, at least until the Verna came along. 521L is aplenty, and we had the 5th gen City before (bought in 2009), so I know how big and practical the boot space of a sedan is.
  3. Prior to the Skoda experience – the Kushaq had left me impressed, and the sales and service experience for that one was positive so far, so that motivated me even further.
  4. The above points for Engine and Price apply here as well.

With all that out of the way, let's get to the meat of the story – what’s it like?

The How is it:

I have a lot to say here, so bear with me.

Skoda Kushaq

The good:

  • Ride and handling: The suspension, ride & handling are rock solid. You can immediately tell that this is a sturdy car which, with the right maintenance, can last for years. You are not shaken around too much, it handles bumps like a pro, and you feel glued to the road, which is good for the city, and great for highways.
  • The infotainment system: As mentioned before, the Kushaq got the new 10-inch infotainment system as it was delivered before the semiconductor shortage. This system is beautiful. It’s got good screen resolution, smooth and easy to use. Wireless Apple CarPlay works like a charm, and overall, a thumbs up from me. Indian manufacturers and MS could learn from this one.
  • Alloy wheels: I truly believe they look better than the ones on my Slavia. Sleek, elegant and classy.

The not-so-good:

  • Boot space: It looks decent from the outside, but doesn’t meet expectations from the inside. Packing for 5 is not possible here, particularly for a long trip. Short trips should be fine though. This was an upgrade from the EcoSport, so maybe our expectations were a little more.
  • Ingress and egress: A little more difficult than I expected. Once you’re inside, its super comfortable. But getting in and out can be tricky, especially for seniors, as the floor is high and the roof not so much. For my dad this is a problem – I insisted on the sunroof model – had we not taken the sunroof, he probably would have been happier with the head space.
  • Build quality: As mentioned in multiple reviews and forums, the build quality could have been better. While I’ve not come across any creaks yet, the plastic quality on the dash is not entirely worth the price, and the headliner fabric is just horrible, it’s very rough – this is something they addressed in the Slavia.

Skoda Slavia

The good:

  • Again, the ride and handling. What’s more, as this is a sedan form factor, the body roll is almost nil. It’s built beautifully for highways.
  • Interior space and practicality: While not Honda City level huge, the space inside is more than what I need. It’s got good head and leg space.
  • Boot space: HUGE POSITIVE. We could easily go on a 5-member trip in the Slavia thanks to the massive boot. It could easily accommodate all our luggage.
  • The transmission: While the engine is the same 1.0 litre as the Kushaq, what makes the difference is the AT transmission. This is my first AT, and I am not purchasing an MT car again for my use – it's too convenient now. While the car is a little jumpy in stop-go traffic in S mode, it's about right in the regular D mode. Wish it had auto-hold though.
  • The design: I may sound biased here, but the design of the Slavia turns heads on the road. Especially in the Carbon Steel colour, it does leave an impact, and the car looks quite long while standing in traffic.

The not-so-good:

  • Build quality: After 9 months of ownership: I finally came across a small creaking sound coming from the right side of the dashboard. It’s not disturbing, but I can feel it nonetheless, and look forward to getting it fixed in the car’s first service.
  • The infotainment system: As I got shortchanged thanks to the semiconductor shortage, I do miss the larger touchscreen on the Kushaq here. This screen is good, but that one’s more vivid and crisp. Most importantly, I miss out on wireless Apple CarPlay, which is a must-have for me (it is wired though). I’ve bought an Ottocast U2-Air dongle for this purpose, and while it does the job, it has its flaws and is nowhere near the factory-fitted CarPlay experience.
  • Brakes: While good, could be better.

To summarize, I’m glad Skoda launched these cars in India. They are well-built on the outside, beautifully designed both inside and out, have potent engines which make them city + highway ready, and are comfortable enough for both long and short journeys.

The Skoda brand has been an aspiration for us for many years. Many people have commented that by pricing them higher and fixing the few niggles that they have, these could have been better overall packages. And while that is one way of thinking about it, I feel this price is just right. For many people like us, this price is the optimum price that we are willing to pay currently for the Skoda badge and experience (maybe more in the future?!). This makes the product quite accessible and sensible for us. Sure, it does have its flaws, but I think many Kushaq and Slavia owners would agree that the pros far outweigh the cons.

Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

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