Skoda Slavia 1.5 DSG vs 1.0 AT: Comparison after back to back drives

The shift quality of both transmissions are very good. They are tuned to be in the right gear all the time and make use of the powerband of the engine well.

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Took back to back test drives of the Slavia 1.5 DSG and 1.0 AT today. My sole intention was as mentioned before check if the 1.5DSG really feels as powerful as it is on paper and cost I am pretty impressed. Thanks to TAFE Access in HSR for promptly arranging the cars and literally back to back so that I could feel the difference easily and on the same driving route. Some observations from my end:

  • The 1.5 DSG has a very controlled clutch response starting from standstill. This is much slower compared to the 1.2 Polo TSi which would creep like an automatic. I believe this has been done to save the clutch pack. In comparison to this, the 1.0 Torque converter due to its nature allows for strong creep and easy movement from standstill or bumper to bumper traffic.
  • The shift quality of both transmissions are very good. They are tuned to be in the right gear all the time and make use of the powerband of the engine well. Both transmissions respond to kickdown in the same manner as well as manual gear changes. While the DSG shifts quickly and you get a direct feeling of the engine revving with vehicle speed increasing, the torque converter compensates for the bottom end of the 1.0 by letting the engine rev freely until a point where it comes into the powerband and then the TC locks up. This masks the poor low end of the 1.0 engine.
  • Both engines are potent enough to keep you moving in traffic and the 1.0 performed better than the 1.6L engine of my SX4. Hence there should not be any concern of its small displacement. For someone sticking to city traffic and trying to cover up gaps, the 1.0 AT is the best choice.
  • The 1.5 DSG on the other hand is an engine you would really like to baby around in traffic owing to its insane response if pushed hard. While I was comfortable pushing the A pedal of the 1.0 close to halfway mark in mixed traffic to gain good speed, the 1.5 would do it with less than 25%.
  • In open areas or when trying to overtake etc, it is the 1.5 that shines out with its linear response and definitely picks up speed like a different animal. Its definitely a highway mile muncher and would promise loads of fun on open roads.
  • The real difference between the two engines is felt during in-gear acceleration. Switch to manual mode in both automatics in 2nd or 3rd gear and vary speeds. The turbo lag in the 1.0 is very prominent. It is so prominent that you might feel I am exaggerating, but it is similar to the low end of my K10 Celerio, where the engine feels dead. The moment the engine crosses a certain RPM, it suddenly wakes up and then the car picks up speed well. On the other hand, there is turbo lag in the 1.5, but to the extent that you would just experience linear acceleration like any other NA petrol and then once the turbo spools up thats a different league altogether. I had faced this issue even in Germany when I had a 1.0TSI Golf and a 1.5TSI T-Roc both in manual disguise. Hence if you are looking for the manual, I would any day prefer the 1.5.
  • Also, I felt the AC performance in the 1.0 to be just poor. While the 1.5 also did not have a chilly AC, I could not just bear with the 1.0 AC in a typical Bangalore afternoon. Of course the car was a bit hot standing in the sun, but the ten year old AC of my SX4 which hasnt been touched so far still beats both the 1.0 and 1.5 ACs.
  • NVH of the 1.5 is superior both while idle and while driving. This is one factor which makes the 1.5 feel less sporty while picking up speed. It reaches high speeds without hearing much from the engine, while the 1.0 can be heard revving across gears which gives a feeling of it being fast.

There is this stupid gap to the right side of the drivers seat all the way down to the carpet. Don't understand why someone would do this, or if it is done intentionally to accommodate the seat airbag inflation. But I haven't seen this in any other car I have driven so far. Overall I was impressed by the car and its performance.

Perhaps old time VAG owners might not be impressed, but this happens with most manufacturers with time and there are many such changes which are not appreciated. But on the other hand, do we really have an alternative for the Slavia? I do not consider the City as an alternative even though I had plans to buy one. The City has better interiors in terms of quality and would be more reliable, but that's it. The Verna is a dated product and its interior space is nothing to write home about. All this in comparison to the 1.0 Slavia. The 1.5 is a niche product, and would be sharing its segment with the Virtus.

The Kushaq has better alternatives, which would be tough to compete against. But for now, not the Slavia unless one is cross shopping between compact SUVs and crossovers.

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