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Skoda Kushaq 1.5 TSI MT: Ownership review

I had shortlisted XUV300, Creta & Seltos. I would have considered XUV500, Harrier/Safari twins but parking constraints and being bulky had to drop it altogether.

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This is a story of my journey from a humble Ford Figo 1.4TDCi to Škoda Kushaq 1.5TSI MT.

Having owned multiple cars and bikes, I have been lazy enough to contribute to this forum via ownership threads. I will try to cover the overall journey in detail as much as possible. Opinions and views which are expressed here are based on my experience of owning previous Ford cars and some of my views might be opposite with general opinions of many.

Background

Exactly a decade ago my automobile journey started with Figo. It had served me well for 7 years without causing any major hole in the pocket but it was clearly showing its age. With the car nearing 90,000 km I was feeling the need to upgrade and like many folks who have owned a Figo, my first choice was Ecosport. So in 2018, with Ecosport 1.5TDCi Titanium already in the garage, a decision was made to sell Figo. Car was in good shape and was sold to one of the SA whom I knew from the initial days of Figo. He knew in and out of the car, so I was super happy to let her go to the safe hands.

Thanks to the pandemic, me being in WFH mode and wifey being in govt. sector had to be in office for most of the time, Ecosport was at her duty, and having driven Figo it was an easy transition for her to shift to Ecosport. However, handling a comparatively bigger car passing through narrow streets to her workplace was a bit of a hassle for her. As days progress, it was getting difficult for her to cope with this and we did consider selling Ecosport briefly. But luckily she was transferred to a different location a month back and she had to relocate to a new location along with the car. Other the other hand, with mom and my kiddo at home, the need for having one more car was slowly coming into foray.

Requirements and Shortlisting

  • Car should be compact and should consume less parking space. Personally, I was never a fan of huge and bulky cars.
  • Car should have sufficient boot space and with all-black interiors.
  • Good ground clearance is a must.
  • AC performance should be good and chassis and dynamics should be superior to my Ecosport.
  • From servicing aspect, I am ok to compromise on cost vis a vis for driving pleasure.
  • Car must have a turbo petrol option as diesel was ruled out due to low running.

Based on my requirement and budget allocation which was set to 12 - 16lakhs, I had shortlisted XUV300, Creta, Seltos. I would have considered XUV500, Harrier/Safari twins but parking constraints and being bulky had to drop it altogether.

Personally, I was never a fan of new-gen Creta on how it looks and didn`t really plan to consider it. Even though the wife was more interested but didn`t find it tough to keep her away from the thoughts of Creta.

Test Drive and Booking Experience

Kia Seltos

With the above requirements in hand, my first visit was to ARM Kia, Mangalore. Showroom experience has been good but the Seltos GT variant commanded 3-4 months waiting time. Add to that recent crash test results were not confidence-inspiring either. Moreover, I felt, design of Seltos as such they age very fast. Even though it is not specific to Kia, I felt the overall design language of the Korean brothers itself won't be able to hold the candle to the German marque. Since I wasn`t willing to wait that long and decided to park it and the next stop was Karnataka Agencies to checkout XUV300.

Mahindra XUV300

Test Drive car was not available but I did check out the car on the display which was the base variant. Overall I felt interiors looked a bit dated, add to that beige interiors and less boot space forced me to drop it without even test driving it.

Skoda Kushaq 1.0TSI MT

Knowing Skoda dealers and being Kushaq a newly launched one, I had set my expectations a bit low, however to my surprise except for a couple of folks, the showroom was nearly empty. My SA Mr. Auf was assigned in few mins and got to spend nearly 2 hours checking the car which includes a fairly long 20kms test drive. My test drive route included full of dirt and potholes and a mix of highway and city driving conditions. I felt suspension is well sorted and unlike Ecosport this one gallops uneven surfaces and bad roads with ease. Overall cabin experience, fit and finish are decent and definitely an upgrade from Ecosport. Coming to the engine, it was my first drive with turbo petrol, and having driven turbo diesel for more than 1.5 lakh km, I am always kind of uncomfortable driving NA petrol but this one turned out to be a comfortable one to drive. We were only two people in the car and as expected 1.0 TSI was eager to pull right from 1700rpm, the exhaust grunt you feel while upshifting is so addictive. The car just glides through speed breakers in 2nd gear without making any fuss.

Variant Selection

I came super impressed and the next day after a detailed discussion, we decided to book 1.0TSI MT by paying 35k as the booking amount. However, one thing I was eagerly looking to check is the car's behavior in fully loaded conditions. Next weekend, we had visited the showroom once again and took one more test drive with 5 people on board. The majority of the route was within the city and twisty inclines. This is where things started falling apart, turbo lag was more prominent, and frequent downshift while driving in the car was really taking its toll on my leg. Add to that it was midday with blazing sun, AC performance wasn`t really convincing, even with the temperature set to 20C, cooling wasn`t really quick. Perhaps the first time when I drove this it was raining and the weather was cool and also might be I was just spoiled by Ford`s powerful AC compressor, overall I felt AC performance was just ok and with all these aspects in my mind, I wasn`t really ready to compromise on these two aspects given I have to shell out 18.2 lakhs for 1.0 Style MT variant. One thing I would like to mention here is, even though the same engine is used in Rapid but I have witnessed turbo lag is well contained in Rapid than Kushaq.

At this point in time, I wasn`t really ready to go for 1.5TSI owing to the fact that this engine is not localized and comes with many imported components. Fearing hefty maintenance bills and parts availability, I was even willing to compromise on the boot space and go for XUV300. A couple of days went by and went through few international forums, going over issues and concerns flagged by other customers. 1.5TSI EVO being used across different cars of multiple brands under the VW umbrella found nothing major reported by users around the globe. So after a lot of to and fro discussion and given the fact that ICE days are numbered, made to my mind to go for the engine which can bring a smile to your face every time you sit in the driver`s seat. The decision was purely driven by heart and finally asked my SA to change the booking to the Carbon Steel 1.5TSI MT variant which comes at a sticker price of 20.2 lakhs on road Mangalore. I could negotiate on insurance which along with my NCB from the previous car, could manage to reduce the final OTR to 19.8 lakhs.

I knew that VW would unveil Taigun and I had made my mind if the price and features match my requirement then probably I would switch to VW. Overall design of Taigun is eye catchy and striking in comparison to Kushaq. Even though Kushaq gets Skoda’s traditional butterfly grille, flanked by sleek LED headlamps, giving it a classier appearance, while the Tiguan-Esque slatted grille, upright hood, and square LED headlamps makes the Taigun look more SUV. But the real downer for me is the 1.5TSI MT variant missing out on many important features especially the 4 additional airbags. So it didn`t really dent my decision and happily decided to retain my Kushaq booking. Since bulky and big cars are not my cup of tea, I have decided to not entertain my mind with XUV700 thoughts.

Delivery Experience

As per Skoda DMS, tentative delivery was shown as 20th August. As soon as the car was dispatched from the factory, SA gave me a heads-up for getting funds ready and make myself available for PDI. Given the fact, the Tafe Access is one of the oldest dealers for Skoda, surprisingly they didn`t have a proper yard to keep the car. Perhaps I think they didn`t felt the need for it due to low volumes. I was told that given how the market has responded to Kushaq, they are opening a new Sales and service center at Shimoga and the new yard will be ready in few months. All cars were either kept in nearby empty parking spaces outside the service center which I felt very risky. Luckily mine was inside the service center and thanks to recent rains I found her in the below state.

After a thorough check along with dealer staff, I informed the bank to go ahead with the fund transfer and updated my SA about the preferred date and time of delivery. As far accessories go, Skoda did offer a Standard accessory kit which is priced at Rs18799 which I felt is too steep for what it offers, so I gave it a miss. My SA Mr. Auf was definitely one of the best I had ever interacted with. Even though he was new to the job but he has been very patient in handling all queries along with obliging multiple test drive requests. On D-day too he has kept everything in line without giving any opportunity for delay. There were few celebrations planned by the dealer as I happened to be one of the initial customers of 1.5TSI. Overall we spent around 2 hours in the showroom and with customary formalities and cake cutting, we were on our way. 60kms drive back home was full of nerves but thoroughly enjoyed every moment of being at the driver`s seat. Especially power on tap was an exhilarating experience and was really a boon to drive in countryside 2 lane roads.

First look

With my kiddo

So far I have driven around 2000 km which includes a couple of highways trips between Puttur-Bangalore. The way the car performed in the mix of twisties and boring 4-lane roads, reaffirmed my decision for going with 1.5-litre TSI, instead of 1.0-litre.

What I loved:

  • Classy European design with signature Skoda looks.
  • Punchy 1.5TSI motor which offers good driveability and heavy load or less load, the car pulls like a locomotive. If you are planning to buy Kushaq, then close your eyes and go for this motor.
  • Compact SUV which offers oodles of legroom space
  • Sorted suspension offers a balanced ride & handling package
  • Well kitted with safety features like 6 airbags, ESC, 3-point seatbelts for all, electronic differential lock, brake disc wiping, multi-collision brake, and EDR
  • Comes with useful features like Ventilated seats, 6 speakers set up with subwoofer, and Wireless charging with apple car play and android auto
  • Confidence-inspiring driving dynamics with less body rolls and excellent brakes
  • Classy old-school analog dials.
  • Delivers excellent fuel economy when compared to cars of this category and engine size.

What I disliked:

  • 1.5TSI is positioned at an eye-watering price. It's a huge price one needs to pay if you want a fun-to-drive car.
  • VW/SKODA India specific MQB A0 IN platform, which makes me nervous about the scale of cost-cutting being done.
  • Skoda's scary after-sales service.
  • Glaring omission of features that are available in other cheaper cousins and other product offerings in the segment.
  • Niggles and issues reported by Kushaq 1.0TSI owners.
  • Interior plastic quality is just ok, it is definitely below par when compared to the price one is paying for the car.
  • Touch-based AC control is a bit annoying to use especially while shifting gears, as hands often touch the panel and disturb the settings.
  • Window control panel switches look like it belongs to a different era.
  • 10" Infotainment system has a mind of its own, so far I have seen the rear camera and the sound system stopped working all of sudden. After the system reset, everything was back to normal.
  • Quality of reverse parking camera pretty average and add to it provides only static guidelines.
  • Cheap AC Vents, especially slider which is very fragile. In my case rear, AC vent slider is already broken.

Things could have been better:

  • Power window motor makes a loud noise while operating.
  • There are no visual differentiation between1.5TSI variants and 1.0TSI. Skoda should have gone VW way by clearly differentiating the Sporty 1.5TSI.
  • AC performance is decent but not the best and if you are a previous Ford owner, then it will take some time before you get used to it.
  • Unlike other Skoda cars and my Ecosport, doors are not heavy which doesn't inspire confidence in the build quality.
  • Skoda should have offered frameless wipers instead of normal ones for both front and rear.
  • 2 million car and would you believe you won`t get a puddle lamp.
  • Quality of leather seats, fit and finish are strictly average.
  • Infotainment system doesn`t come with physical buttons. Even if you want to switch off display at night, you have to take your eyes off the road or ask a fellow co-driver to do it for you.
  • Cabin insulation is average, engine sound seeps into the cabin which enthusiast in me don`t mind though but average Joe might feel irritated.

Niggles so far:

  • Frequent disconnection while using wireless apple car play. Need to verify if it is the same when connected via type C cable.
  • Driver-side power window buttons acts weird. If one presses the button down and halfway if he decides to close it and presses up, the window will go down fully and then it will come up which I felt a bit quirky.
  • Rear camera display and the sound system stopped working, system reset solved it.
  • Fuel gauge was stuck after fuel pump replacement due to recall. So effectively my car is running with 3rd fuel pump.

Continue reading DragonHawk's Skoda Kushaq review for more insights, information and BHPian comments.

 
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