While the all-new Kushaq is at the forefront of Skoda’s India 2.0 strategy, there is a lot in the pipeline that will strengthen the brand in more ways than one. Here’s what you should expect from the Skoda brand in the time to come…
We are just a few weeks away from the launch of the all-new Skoda Kushaq – the first product to come out of Skoda’s India 2.0 strategy – which is strategically important for the brand for myriad reasons. True, Skoda already had the Kodiaq and Karoq on sale in India, but both of them competed in a more premium space, leaving the brand without representation in the hot-selling mid-size SUV segment. The Kushaq, then, aims to fill the void in Skoda’s product portfolio and cement its position in the super-competitive mid-size SUV segment.
Additionally, the Kushaq is also the first product to be based on the MQB-A0-IN platform, which will be used for many new products in the Indian market. Skoda is also focusing on strengthening its brand presence across the country. In this article, we give you a quick glimpse at what you can expect from Skoda India in the next few years.
Skoda gave us a first glimpse of the pre-production iteration of the Kushaq in March. If first impressions are anything to go by, the Kushaq promises to offer a fantastic package. Being a typical Skoda, its design is a superb amalgamation of sharpness and sophistication. Inside, the multi-layered dashboard is quite distinctive, to say the least. Also, it packs quite a long list of features. The biggest highlight of the Kushaq, however, is the engines that it offers – a 1.0-litre and a 1.5-litre turbo petrol unit. Skoda’s Turbocharged Stratified Injection, popularly known as TSI tech, has gained tremendous recognition over the years for achieving a brilliant balance between performance and pocket-friendliness. By optimising the air-fuel mixture in the combustion chamber, Skoda has managed to extract more power from a small capacity motor, which effectively also results in better fuel economy. The TSI tech also ensures the availability of torque in the lower echelons of the rev range, making it a lot more tractable and enjoyable in comparison to any other MPI unit. Skoda has also made use of lightweight materials for the construction of the engine, which further aids performance and efficiency.
What’s more, Skoda has now commenced local production of both engines at its facility in Chakan, which is likely to make the Kushaq’s prices even more competitive.
In addition to localising the engine, Skoda has also heavily localised the MQB-A0 platform, dubbing it MQB-A0-IN. Specifically developed for emerging markets, this platform has been designed especially for Indian requirements. For instance, it addresses the issue of the large transmission tunnel at the back eating into the rear-seat legroom – something that was one of the biggest design challenges of all previous Skoda cars. Thanks to the new platform, the Kushaq no longer suffers from it and, consequently, offers more legroom for rear-seat passengers.
The MQB-A0-IN platform has another trick up its sleeve. All cars based on this modular transverse matrix have their engines leaning marginally forward, with a constant distance between the centre of the front wheel and the pedals. This gives Skoda great flexibility in terms of basing a range of vehicles on this platform – from SUVs and large sedans to smaller hatchbacks. As you would expect, this will also give Skoda the benefit of economies of scale, further ensuring competitive pricing of its products – a glimpse of which we will see at the launch of the Kushaq.
While cars based on the MQB-A0-IN platform will be competitively priced, there won’t be any compromises in terms of safety. They will continue to flaunt the signature Skoda rock-solid built, incredible stability and safety. Speaking of which, Skoda has already revealed that the Kushaq will be offered with up to 6 airbags as standard, with at least 2 airbags offered across the Kushaq range.
Skoda’s India 2.0 strategy is not just about new products for India and the heavily localised MQB-A0-IN platform. As part of the India master plan, Skoda will also expand its reach in the Indian market. The Czech carmaker aims to widen its geographical presence to 125 cities in India by 2022 and has a target to penetrate 50 new cities in the next three years. Customer touchpoints will also be increased from 60 to 165 by 2022. In fact, Skoda has been investing heavily to double its dealership facilities by 2025. In addition, Skoda has also redesigned its dealership network and has smoothened out the business processes.
The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed carmakers to digitise their business. With a new tool called ‘The Digital Way’, Skoda intends to change the way customer interests and queries are addressed. With innovations like a high-res 4K video wall to display products and a digital car information stand, the brand is aiming to simplify the car buying process for its customers.
Skoda seems to have a meticulous and comprehensive plan for the future, with an increased focus on the Indian market. Given that the Kushaq is the first product of the India 2.0 strategy, there is a lot of excitement and anticipation surrounding it, but frankly, it’s just the beginning of many great things to come from the brand.