Skoda along with the VW group has maintained their presence in the Indian markets for nearly two decades. While some cars were extremely popular, others were unable to withstand customers’ purchasing decisions and maintain sales in the face of fierce competition. They’ve seen great cars, such as the Yeti and the Fabia, succumb to the drawback of high pricing as they haven’t been able to assemble their cars in the country; however, Skoda has given this mindset a refresh. Skoda Auto CEO Bernhard Maier and Gurpratap Boparai, Managing Director of Skoda Auto India Private Ltd, announced the ‘INDIA 2.0’ project where they’d be investing €1 Billion to begin manufacturing and assembly of their cars majorly in India itself to provide to the Indian consumers a far more reasonable pricing strategy for their cars.
And it is under this project that the first car being launched is The All New Skoda Kushaq! With 93% of the vehicle being developed locally Skoda aims to bring the luxury and elegance from vehicles of a far higher segment well within the reach of a larger consumer base. As a matter of fact, being a midsize SUV, the Skoda Kushaq enters with stiff competition present in the market in the form of Hyundai’s Creta, Kia’s Seltos, MG’s Hector and Tata’s Harrier among other rivals. Skoda has a lot riding on this car’s success as it will determine how well they survive in the country. Let’s take a look at what this car constitutes and will this emerge victorious in the battle of being the best midsize SUV!
Up & Under the Hood
The exteriors of the Skoda Kushaq make it evident at first glance that it belongs to the Skoda family, with the signature front grill getting good layers of chrome and the perfect cuts and creases across the body, make for an aggressive yet elegant outer look that lives up to the idea of being a stylish SUV. The Skoda Kushaq sports the longest wheelbase in its segment (2651mm) and along with the 17 inch ‘Atlas’ alloy wheels, LEDs for the lighting the car does seem to make heads turn when out on the streets. One can certainly admit the designers at Skoda have worked hard to make a mark at the styling!
Skoda Kushaq comes packed with two engine options. The 1.0-litre TSI engine comes mated with a 6-speed manual gearbox which produces a simple 115 hp at 178 Nm of torque and the performance has not been one to get your adrenaline spiked, however, the engine to look out for is the 1.5-litre TSI which comes with twin gearbox options, the 6-speed manual or the 7 speed DSG automatic gearbox and its performance has been phenomenal. While producing 150 hp at 250 Nm of torque, the Skoda Kushaq also happens to be among the quickest SUVs by touching 0-100 kph in 9.54 seconds. The car dishes out the right amount of power by giving you a push into your seat with the foot going down on the accelerator. Skoda Kushaq has certainly not cut down any costing with respect to its technology.
They provide paddle shifters across their variant line-up and the 1.5-litre engine houses the cylinder deactivation technology for higher fuel efficiency. The car not only accelerates quickly, but it also maintains great stability at high speeds and has excellent road grip, giving the driver a sense of security.
Interior Design & Comfort
Upon stepping inside the cabin of the Skoda Kushaq, the familiar two-spoke steering wheel housing controls for the infotainment system is up to greet the driver bringing the European feel. Skoda, on the other side, has reduced quality by assembling the pieces domestically, however, the interior still feels fantastic. The infotainment system is an amazing 10-inch display of superior quality, housing Android Auto and Apple Carplay with apps to enhance the drive experience, touch-sensitive AC controls, automatic wipers and easy to get steering adjustments are a welcome addition to the cabin. The seats are comfortable with good under-thigh support but Skoda has missed out on getting a powered driver’s seat, which makes adjusting the seating position simply a click of a button, and also happens to be a needed feature on cars of this segment and also misses out on a panoramic sunroof thus making the Skoda Kushaq loses some of its appeal.
One can also make use of the Valet mode which is an interesting feature not seen generally on cars of this range. When in the hands of a valet, this function begins recording movements and behaviour. It keeps track of the car and alerts the owner at every move. When this option is enabled, the user has the ability to disable all infotainment functions. This makes for a more interactive experience with the Skoda Kushaq. On the other hand, the comforting leather upholstery, with cooled seat options present as well do make up for the customer’s satisfaction in the hot and humid Indian climate. And as the Kushaq comes with the longest wheelbase in the segment there’s a fair amount of space at the rear seat for a comfortable experience. Although the boot capacity of 385 litres is marginally smaller than that of its competitors, Skoda Kushaq does provide nets and hooks to make having luggage stacked in easier.
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The Ownership Experience
Skoda has aced this department, with excellent handling, a good balance of placing the suspension rightly and a stiff chassis make for an amazing drive experience. And with this, the safety features on the Skoda Kushaq are one to catch the eye! The top-spec variant comes loaded with security features such as six airbags, a TYPMS (The Tyre Pressure Monitoring System), Brake Assist, Multi-collision braking, traction control and so on thus providing a worry-free driving experience. Skoda also provides the MySkoda Connect App to make the ownership experience more interesting, with smart features such as walk to the car, tow alert, track my car, real-time speed tracking, driving behaviour alert and so on enabling the consumer to have hands-on knowledge of their car all the time!
More importantly, Skoda has an attractive maintenance policy with the 4-year care package which brings
1) The 4 year / 1,00,000 Kms manufacturer-backed warranty.
2) 4 year Skoda assist with unlimited roadside assistance and care.
3) 4-year maintenance package with 4 Years/60,000 km, 4 periodic maintenance services at the interval of 15,000 km or one year.
Skoda Kushaq Variants
The Kushaq is available in three trims:
1) Skoda Kushaq Active (10.49 Lakhs)
The entry-level model with the 1.0-litre TSI petrol engine option with standard features such as ABS with EBD, rear parking sensors, dual airbags, Halogen lamps with DRLs among others.
2) Skoda Kushaq Ambition (12.79 – 14.19 Lakhs)
Mid spec with the option to choose between Automatic or Manual transmission for the 1.0-litre TSI petrol engine, housing the 10-inch screen with a host of smart features added.
3) Skoda Kushaq Style (14.59 – 17.59 Lakhs)
The top of the line variant housing the 1.5-litre engine and both gearbox choices with all the bells and whistles on offer by Skoda for the Kushaq.
Skoda’s approach to making in India has been commendable, people now have the option to choose from a wider range of luxury cars well within the budget. The Skoda Kushaq brings an excellent driving and handling experience for its buyers, highly comfortable seating and very handy features. Especially how Skoda has paid attention to minute details such as providing a small ticket holder at the top, special smartphone pocket on the seats, 3kg hooks for holding baggage, document holding strings, and safety tape on all four doors. These additions make for an enhanced user experience and along with good after-sales as well. There are certain points the customers would miss such as a panoramic sunroof in place of the normal electric one or electrically powered seat adjustment, however, these can be just nit-picking and undoubtedly Skoda Kushaq is an exciting prospect to consider while purchasing an SUV.
What did you like the most about this car and what all you feel is missing, do let us know in the comment section below!