Skoda’s annual sales will now cross 50,000 soon with help of their game-changer vehicle, Kushaq
Kushaq was introduced in July 2021, a little ahead of Volkswagen Taigun and could keep its momentum even after the latter entered the market
If there is one single strategy that could turn around two automotive brands simultaneously, that is the India 2.0 plan by Skoda and Volkswagen. The two mass-market brands under Skoda Volkswagen India Private Limited have developed a special car platform for India.
India 2.0 was set in motion in 2018. And the new technology centre set up in 2019 in Pune played a huge role in the development of the two-star cars Slavia and Kushaq.
These two models are 95% localised and are already being exported to left-hand drive markets countries in the Gulf. These Made-in-India cars are going to be assembled in Vietnam in 2024 with parts and components exported from ŠKODA AUTO India’s facility in Chakan.
Skoda brought in Kushaq and VW introduced Taigun, the first products from India 2.0 plan, in the mid-size SUV segment. A few months later, they entered the mid-size sedan market with Skoda Slavia and VW Virtus. Four cars on the same platform.
Kushaq was introduced in July 2021, a little ahead of Taigun and could keep its momentum even after the latter entered the market. The dynamics of the market, which was ruled by Hyundai Creta and Kia Seltos, suddenly changed.
For Skoda, Kushaq became a game-changer. For the first time in India, Skoda’s annual sales will now cross 50,000 soon, with 44,500 cars sold from January to October this year. To celebrate this sales peak, Skoda conducted a special Himalayan Peak to Peak Drive, connecting two tourist hill towns Dehradun and Mussoorie, in Uttarakhand.
In Mussoorie, I could interact with Petr Šolc, Brand Director, ŠKODA AUTO India. He said the focus is on localisation to make the cars affordable, yet being luxury. The company plans to expand its portfolio and sales/service network and increase customer satisfaction. He said India is now the third-largest market after Germany and the Czech Republic, and the largest outside Europe for Škoda Auto globally.
Skoda Auto India offers five models in India – Slavia, Superb, Octavia, Kushaq and Kodiaq.
5-star rated SUV
Kushaq is among the two Indian cars that got a five-star rating for both adult and child protection in the Global NCAP Crash Tests. No other car in the mass market in India gained the same rating for child safety before.
What helped Kushaq is many active and passive safety features. The Electronic Stability Control (ESC) system comes as standard for all variants a first in this vehicle segment in the Indian market. Occupants are protected by up to six airbags, while ISOFIX anchors and top tether anchor points ensure the greatest possible safety for children.
Sensors and rear-view camera provide convenient assistance when parking; a tyre pressure monitoring system and hill-hold control are optional extras. The multi-collision brake prevents potential follow-on collisions in the event of an accident, by automatically going to a standstill. Three-point seat belts with individual headrests for all passengers, roll-over protection, electronic stability control, tyre pressure monitoring system, ABS with a traction control system, electronic differential lock system, electronic brake-force distribution and brake disc wiping are other safety measures.
Though Kushaq was designed for India, it has all the European style elements. The SUV looks athletic and powerful with large wheels and plenty of ground clearance. Its striking lines and crystalline features, wide Skoda grille, headlights and tail-lights with modern LED technology, two-tone 17-inch alloy wheels and black skirting are all eye-catchy.
Its compact exterior dimensions are ideally suited to cities, yet the car offers plenty of space inside. The SUV is 4,225 mm long, 1,760 mm wide and 1,612 mm high, with a wheelbase of 2,651 mm.
The interior offers ample space and storage options, plus a 385-litre boot. Overall, storage capacity is up to 26.2 litres. Front seats, in perforated leather, add to the travel comfort. A free-standing infotainment display measuring 10 inches is the central element.
Two-spoke steering wheel, lighting and chrome-plated details add class. Kushaq offers excellent connectivity with mySKODA Connect. Other elements include a wireless smart link for integrating Apple Car Play and Android Auto, and the SKODA Sound System comes with six high-performing speakers and a subwoofer. It is available in 5 monotone and 2 dual-tone colours.
Slavia is the sedan sibling of Kushaq. Technically it has the same powertrain and platform. Cabin space, high ground clearance and a massive look are the main attractions. The manual transmission variants come at ex-showroom prices between Rs 11.29 lakh and Rs 17 lakh. Automatic variants are available at Rs 14.29 lakh - Rs 18.40 lakh. Launched in March 2022, it garnered sales of 15,400 cars till September.
Kushaq has two engine options. The 1-litre turbo petrol engine with a peak power of 85 kW (115 PS) and the 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine with 110 kW (150 PS) power. The former comes with either a six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed torque converter automatic transmission. The latter has a 6-speed manual and a 7-speed Dual Clutch Automatic (DSG).
Kushaq has 4 variants Active, Ambition, Style and Monte Carlo. It has an anniversary edition too, with some added features. It is based on the style variant, with chrome embellishments on the grille, cladding and door handle. The ‘anniversary edition’ badge is there on the C-pillar and steering wheel. The Monte Carlo variant launched this year is noted for its racing car-like cosmetic add-ons.
The 60- km road from Dehradun to Mussoorie has some straight stretches, but mostly steep winding stretches to the hilltop, with a lot of hairpins. What I drove was the top variant of Kushaq with 7-speed DSG. This 1.5-litre turbo engine comes with an innovative feature active cylinder technology (ACT). It automatically shuts down two cylinders when the engine load is low. On relaxed strolls, we can feel this. This lowers fuel consumption.
Kushaq conquered all challenging situations like a breeze. The car is suitably powered, and with the smooth shifting gearbox, I never felt lag or a dearth of power. The stability at high speeds is also noticeable. Cabin is spacious. The fit and finish are good. Engine noise is felt inside the cabin only at high revs. Overall, Kushaq is a compelling package.
Rs 11.59 lakh - Rs 18.79 lakh
Kushaq Monte Carlo
Rs 16.39 lakh - Rs 19.69 lakh
Kushaq Anniversary Edition
Rs 15.59 lakh - Rs 19.09 lakh
Luxurious 7 seaters
Mercedes Benz continues its product offensive in India and is all set to launch its first-ever seven-seater luxury EV. The EQB also marks Mercedes-Benz India’s third luxury EV debut in 2022, preceded by the AMG EQS 53 4MATIC+ and the ‘Made in India’ EQS 580 4MATIC. The versatile GLB will be Mercedes-Benz’s second seven-seater SUV in the portfolio. The GLB and the EQB will make their combined India market debut on December 2. Booking started online and at dealerships for Rs 1.5 lakh.
Toyota’s CNG releases
Toyota Kirloskar Motor announced its foray into the CNG segment with the new Glanza and Urban Cruiser Hyryder. The Glanza with E-CNG technology is to be priced at D 8,43,000 (S variant) and D 9,46,000 (G). The engine capacity is 1197cc. Urban Cruiser Hyryder, comes with the 1.5-litre K-series engine and 5 Speed Manual Transmission. It claims a mileage of 26.1 km/kg.The price is yet to be announced.
The writer is a freelance auto expert who hosts TV shows and anchors the YouTube channel ‘CARKADUVA’