With its India 2.0 program firmly in place, Skoda now has its eyes on the mid-size sedan segment. We drive a camouflaged version of the Slavia to experience what it offers to the customers.
While the world is going gaga over SUVs, there is still enough strength left in the sedan segment to ensure manufacturers launch new products. Of course, the fact remains that a well-setup sedan is still infinitely more pleasurable and satisfying to drive than any SUV – the low centre of gravity, better dynamics, play a major role – and with their lower weight, sedans can potentially also be a lot more efficient than a similar-sized SUV.
Keeping all that in mind and given that it is based on the MQB A0 IN platform, the Slavia does offer a pretty good driving experience. With the inherent stiffness of the chassis, paired with the peppy TSI engines, acceleration in both the 1.0-litre and 1.5-litre engines is pretty brisk. Like the Kushaq, the gearboxes on the Slavia are also a delight, with the manuals being best-in-class, while the 7-speed DSG also offers excellent drivability. Right from launch, the Slavia will be offered in manual and automatic trims with both engines, and like the Kushaq, the Slavia will offer a 6-speed torque converter or a 7-speed DSG, depending on which engine you choose.
When it comes to road manners, the Slavia features fantastic high-speed stability, and the car feels planted and secured even at high three-digit speeds. Ride quality is also very good, but unlike its main competitors, the Slavia is going to be on the stiffer side, which means that the handling of the Slavia is also something that will set it apart from its competition. Interestingly, when it comes to space, the Slavia is bigger than the first-gen Octavia which was the first model that the Skoda brand brought to India in the early 2000s and which made the Czech carmaker a household brand in India. Like the Kushaq, the wheelbase of the Slavia is 2,651mm, while the overall length is 4,541mm. This means that there should be enough space inside the cabin for 5 full-sized adults.
Other than the performance and drivability, the main focus of Skoda with the Slavia will be on safety. As a result, the Slavia will offer up to 6 airbags, while Skoda also claims that the Slavia has been designed to not only match but exceed Global NCAP safety standards. At the same time, with up to 95% localization, the hope is that Skoda will price the Slavia competitively to take on its Korean and Japanese competitors.
The Slavia will replace the ageing Rapid in the Skoda portfolio, while the BS6 version of the Kodiaq will also reach the market in January 2022. With the success of the Kushaq and twin launches lined up in January 2022, it seems that Skoda is set to start the new year with a big bang.