Skoda is heading the India 2.0 strategy for the Volkswagen Group and that is why the brand got the privilege to launch the first car on the India-specific platform. The MQB-A0-IN platform developed specifically for the Indian market shows the group’s commitment to the Indian market and many new models will spawn on the same platform in the future. But first of all the upcoming vehicles is the much-awaited Skoda Kushaq. We did spend some time with the 1.0-litre TSI automatic variant of the Kushaq and here is what we think about the all-new model.
The Kushaq brings the spectacular European design to the segment. Looking at the Kushaq, you will not find it too small or too big. It actually is of a perfect size to navigate through the crowded city roads and park at the shrinking parking spaces of the homes.
Skoda has added the stereotypical Skoda Wing grille design at the front with good looking sleek LED headlamps forming the extension of the grille. Overall, the design does look sporty. Adding the muscular bits to the front-end is a skid plate. The Kushaq is narrower than its competitors. That results in decreased cabin space but driving through the crowded roads is a breeze.
The Kushaq gets 188mm of ground clearance and best-in-class wheelbase too. On the side, you get to deep creases with the ageless design language. The alloy wheels do get an aggressive design. The rear of the Kushaq also gets an interesting design, especially with the layered bootlid and split tail lamps. Overall, the Kushaq looks compact, sporty and has the perfect size for the Indian roads.
Let’s talk about the engine and drive
I know that features and cabin is important but the niche of the Kushaq is how it drives and the engine that powers it. We only drove the 1.0-litre TSI automatic of the car. It is the three-cylinder motor that we have already seen with the likes of Rapid, Volkswagen Vento and the Polo in India. Skoda has re-tuned the engine to extract more power – about 5 Bhp more power.
The engine produces a maximum power of 113 Bhp and peak torque of 175 Nm. There is a six-speed manual and a six-speed automatic available with the Kushaq. We drove a bit of the manual but primarily drove around the automatic version.
Since it is a three-cylinder engine, there are quite a lot of apprehensions about it. At idling, you may get to hear the engine clatter but only if you concentrate on it. As soon as you put the car in drive mode, the noise disappears. While driving around, you really do not feel that the Kushaq gets powered by a three-pot engine.
The engine is a rockstar. It is a turbocharged petrol engine and the power starts to flow after the tachometer crosses 2,000 rpm. The automatic transmission is tuned quite well with the engine and at most of the times, the lag is not very evident.
The Kushaq also paddleshifters, which can be used in the drive mode or you can shift it to the manual mode and use the shifters full time. The gearshifts are quick and most of the times, you do not even get to feel the gear shifts.
This engine-transmission offers a perfect balance between mileage and performance. We did a mileage run for about 30 km and got more than 16 km/l in a heavy traffic situation. All this while the climate control system was turned on.
Wins the ride and handling game
The Kushaq outrightly wins in the ride and handling game amongst the competitors. If you love to drive, then look no further than the Kushaq. You take control of the steering and realise that it is very precise and goes exactly in the way you intend to. Yes, you can take the small gaps, change lanes at triple-digit speeds and take corners without worrying about slowing down much. There is absolutely no sense of bodyroll in the Kushaq.
The steering wheel remains lightweight at the lower speed that allows you to navigate through tight spaces while it weighs up beautifully at the higher speed. There is no other car in the segment that matches the handling offered by the Kushaq and there should be no discussions about it. The ride quality, because of the suspension us stiff though. Yes, you do get to feel even the slightest udualations and cracks on the tarmac but that’s something true enthusiasts will not mind.
So what is missing?
Space in the rear is missing for one. Skoda offers sporty bucket seats in the rear too. It is good for two but a third person squeezing in for a long journey will make everyone uncomfortable. The side bolsters stick out and will poke your back if there’s a third passenger in the rear row.
Other than the rear seating space, the Kushaq gets a decent list of features including virtual cockpit, touchscreen infotainment system, wireless phone charger, a sunroof, and simply clever design of the dashboard that really makes you feel that you’re sitting in a premium space. I really liked the design of the dashboard, especially the textured parts.
But Skoda does not offer as much features with the automatic options as it does with the manual. Yes, you only get two airbags, tyre pressure monitoring system and a few other features with the top-end automatic options compared to the manual top-end. Also, the massive panoramic sunroof, which is becoming a standard in the segment is missing from the Kushaq.
Skoda sure has added some unique features like the Valet Mode, which will allow you to track the maximum speed and distance covered by the valet driver when you hand over the car. The mode also deactivates the infotainment system in the vehicle. The traction control system, disc brake wipe system and few other features are available with all the variants of the Kushaq.
So should you buy it?
If all you want is driving pleasure, there is nothing in the segment that comes close to the Kushaq. But then, when you compare it with the other vehicles in the segment, you may feel like that it is not a well-rounded product. We give full marks to its ride and handling but it scores low when it comes to the rear seat space. Overall, the Kushaq is an interesting product and has paved the way for the future models on the same MQB-A0-IN platform.